Wholesale & Distribution International - Fall 2017 - 69
With so many ways to order take-out, dine out or prepare food at home, it's a great time to be a consumer.
Not only do our smart devices provide direct access
to ingredients, allergens, recommendations and sustainability information, we have varied delivery and
pick-up options and new services that personalize and
curate our meal experiences.
In this data-driven marketplace, it could
not be more critical for foodservice businesses to improve data accuracy and operational efficiencies. Foodservice distributors recognize that they can play a
key role in enabling the fast and accurate
flow of data through proactive collaboration with manufacturers, operators and
other supply chain partners. Through the
Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative,
innovative distributors work together to
drive waste out of the foodservice supply
chain, improve product information and
enhance food traceability. They achieve
these goals using the GS1 System of
Standards, which include unique product identification numbers, data capture methods such as barcodes, and the
Global Data Synchronization Network
(GDSN), which enables trading partners
to globally exchange product information in an automatic and efficient way.
GS1 US recently interviewed executives from two leading foodservice distribution companies - Dot Foods and
Gordon Food Service - who play a leadership role in the initiative. They shared
their views on three key topics that shed
light on how distributors have become
a critical link in the foodservice supply
chain in the data-driven marketplace.
There are many reasons to implement
GS1 Standards - for these distributors,
moving away from manual data entry was
a top concern. Dick Tracy, president of
Dot Foods, believes data synchronization
leads to more complete and accurate data,
and fewer costs due to gained efficiency.
"In the past, we manually set up all of
our items and did not always have consistent guidelines on how this was done. We
can now tell a much better story about
the individual products we sell. Our sales
numbers back this up since we know that
items with information provided through
GDSN grow 7 percent faster than those
that were done manually.
"Weight, cube, images, nutritional information, allergens and preparation instructions are all good examples of things
we had a hard time getting and keeping
updated on our own. We can't effectively
sell the products we carry without them,"
Global data synchronization has been
used by foodservice distributors since
2009 to access real-time product attributes, which can include characteristics
like weights and dimensions. But, in recent years, distributors have been pushing for trading partner collaboration to
provide consumers with extended, relevant information such as gluten-free, Kosher or organic.
"In today's online information-enabled marketplace, the need for rich,
accurate and complete product data is
more important than ever," said Todd
Baker, senior manager of North American
merchandising, for Gordon Food Service.
Using data synchronization, Baker says
the company now has easy access to core,
nutrition and marketing information as
well as images, all of which are provided
to customers online. "We've experienced
significant efficiencies in our new item
sourcing and setup processes and in our
ability to capture and maintain nutrition
information and images," he explained.
Tracy's company is investing in better
options for customers to both view and
purchase the products they carry, knowing that consumer-facing attributes are
a priority in today's marketplace. "Consumers expect information on the products they purchase to be at their fingertips, literally. That is especially the case
with the food they consume and there is
no difference between where this happens - home or away," he said.
Innovation today seems to
THE PRESSURE TO INNOVATE
Innovation today seems to happen nearly
overnight, when in previous years change
in the foodservice industry happened
much more gradually. According to these
distribution executives, the pressure
from consumers to innovate faster has
changed the way they do business.
"The "information craze" is driving the
foodservice industry - all industries actually - to invest in processes and technology to efficiently capture, retain and
present product information in myriad
ways," said Baker.
Ultimately, with open industry collaboration, the foodservice industry can
serve as an important example to others
committed to working together to capture consumer loyalty. Now is the time
to determine how your distribution business will address critical business needs
to extend its relevance into tomorrow.
Angela Fernandez is vice president of foodservice and retail grocery for GS1 US. For
more information, visit www.gs1us.org.
Fall 2017 www.wdimagazine.com