Foodservice Distributors come in all shapes and sizes. While smaller foodservice distributors have the unique advantage of more personal service, larger distributors have traditionally had the leg up on internal resources, like IT systems.
Spreadsheets and emails may suffice for the smallest, most basic distribution models. However, most distributors don’t stay that small for long. With growth comes the requirement to juggle more products, more orders and more customers. To do that, distributors must add components to the business, like sales and marketing, and make sure everything works together with warehousing and purchasing. This requires communication on top of the many tasks already required to maintain core operations. At this point, the distributor needs a CRM solution.
Read 5 Benefits of CRM for Food Distribution, from it.toolbox.com:
1. Internal Communications
An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is great for tracking orders, but for many distributors, their ERP system was developed during the early days of the Internet. Interfacing data with other applications is usually easier from the CRM system, which is typically newer, than from the ERP system. Being able to share critical customer data with other applications means smoother operations and fewer customer complaints.
2. Better Reporting
The CRM system typically has better built-in reporting than the ERP system that is easier for business users to work with. Admittedly, the scope of the files in the CRM database is usually less than an ERP system, which makes training people to do their own reporting easier.
Better and more tailored reporting supports better decision making. Food service distributors need to respond quickly to changing customer demand and suppliers.
Keeping track of what one customer buys is good. Seeing what other, similar customers buy is even better. Salespeople and marketing can see individual and group purchasing behavior to find gaps in what is being sold to individual customers. Although such data may be in the ERP or accounting system, those applications tend not to hold enough customer descriptive data for meaningful analysis.
4. Mobile Interface
The ERP system does a great job of projecting order and invoice information to mobile devices, but sales and contact history comes from the CRM system. Those are vital bits of information that employees in contact with customers need to know to provide better service and resolve problems.
5. Customer-Facing Portal
The Holy Grail of distribution is getting customers to do their own ordering. Doing away with phone-based order taking saves the foodservice distributor a lot of money.
Most ERP applications have rudimentary ordering systems. Many are designed for a distributor’s employee to place orders while on the road, but few have a great-looking interface that distributors want to put in front of their customers.
Many CRM systems have customer portals. These portals typically need some work to interface data fields from the CRM system to the ERP system, and in some application combinations, the interface may not work well. When it does work, however, the CRM system’s front end is a lot more appealing than the ERP system’s.
Read more on it.toolbox.com
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