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Updated by Jonathan Buring on Jul 02, 2018
Headline for Technology Allows Specialty Food Providers to Adapt to Customer Needs
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Technology Allows Specialty Food Providers to Adapt to Customer Needs

Food service distribution has changed substantially over the years. Consolidation has made it more difficult for smaller distributors to compete. High-margin goods (i.e., specialty foods) are a potential alternative. If you are a specialty food manufacturer, you’ll want to work with a tech-friendly distributor who can position your products advantageously with customers. Technology integration can offer you a number of benefits in the specialty food distribution context. Consider the following.

1

Inventory Utilization

Specialty foods tend to be purchased in small batches, and offerings tend to be quite a bit more diverse than broadline food offerings. As such, it’s valuable for customers to have their limited inventory space utilized more effectively. Technology integration in the food service distributionsupply chain allows tech-savvy distributors to track and identify trends in customer purchasing habits (in real-time), and to modify distribution accordingly. Less wasted inventory space means that your products are more likely to be viewed positively by food service customers.

2

Freshness is Key

In the specialty food context, freshness is particularly important. Growing demand for specialty food products is — at least in part — driven by a desire for fresh, natural foods. As such, a distributor’s ability to ensure that food products are stored in a manner that preserves their freshness will improve the perceived value of your specialty food products. Technology integration has led to general improvements in freshness of food products moving through the supply chain.

3

Quick Replenishment of Specialty Food Products

Tech-savvy specialty food distributors often provide mobile ordering software that allows food service customers (i.e, restaurants, cafeterias, etc.) to quickly replenish their supplies if necessary by placing an order with the distribution company. This is particularly useful for small batch specialty food products for which there has been unexpected demand — of course, with the aid of sufficiently advanced trend analysis software, the likelihood of “running out” of product due to unexpected customer demand should be minimized somewhat.

4

Trackable Food Origin

In today’s world, specialty food customers increasingly demand to know the origin of the food products they consume. For example, if you are making cured ham, then the customers at a restaurant serving the cured ham may want to know where the ham was made, where and under what conditions the pigs were raised, and more. Though this may seem extraneous, it is important to a not-insubstantial portion of the buying public (in the specialty food context).

Though advanced software and tracking technology is not necessary to keep tabs on the origin of various food products, it certainly helps. In a fully integrated supply chain, the restaurant will have access to this sort of information (i.e., geographic origin, manufacturer name, etc.) at their fingertips.

5

Enhanced Customer Service

Whether technology enhances the customer service experience depends in part on the particular implementation. Food distribution companies that develop real-time supply chain tracking software, mobile applications, and other customer-friendly implementations will generally benefit from the tight integration of technology — customers have access to a more transparent supply chain, giving them more control than ever before.