For direct store delivery (DSD) companies, time and accuracy are practically currency. Particularly in industries where perishable goods are involved, the delivery team’s ability to get the right goods to the store on time can mean the difference between a profit or a loss for both the customer and the supplier.
Technology and automation can help improve the efficiency and accuracy of your DSD solutions. Automation can help DSD companies better forecast demand and adjust production planning accordingly. With real-time data from the field about current inventory, sales trends, out of stocks, stales/returns, and other information, companies have a better view of what consumers are actually purchasing. Using that data, you can respond more quickly to shifts in demand, unexpected events that impact demand (weather changes, for example), and other consumption patterns.
The Vital Role of Mobility
Mobile computers and mobile printers are key parts of a successful DSD solution. Mobile computers allow drivers to quickly view orders, use barcode scanners to check existing inventories, adjust orders, capture customer signatures, and even accept payment.
Mobile printers can also improve route efficiency by allowing drivers to print receipts and invoices on the road, in the truck, or at the store. By printing and verifying invoices on site, DSD companies can cut multiple days out of the billing cycle.
For example, Zebra Technologies IMZ Series mobile printers allow drivers to quickly print receipts, invoices, and labels at the point of activity. The printers are light enough to wear or carry for extended periods. They are also compatible with Windows, Android, and Apple iOS-based mobile devices — providing the flexibility needed to support a wide variety of mobile computing scenarios.
Streamline Processes for Efficiency and Profitability
Making mobility part of your DSD solution also streamlines operations that would otherwise be dependent on inefficient paper processes. When drivers arrive at a distribution center, they can use mobile computers and wireless technology to upload or download routes and customer files without a docking cradle.
Once they are on the road, they can receive updates or route changes in real-time and exchange messages with dispatchers or supervisors without having to make time-consuming phone calls.
Automated check-in procedures can also speed up the delivery process by eliminating manual data entry and item verification at the store. The DSD solution can allow drivers to quickly scan and verify orders and then transmit invoices electronically in seconds.
In addition, once the delivery is complete and new orders have been collected, drivers can even collect payment on site using a mobile computer equipped with a credit card reader. That saves time in the back office. The accounting team no longer has to process as many invoices or collect payments after the fact, accelerating the cash cycle and improving billing efficiency.
The Value of the Data You Collect
DSD solutions also help companies analyze and optimize their routes so that they can deliver goods to their customers in a more efficient manner. By using real-time information from the field to adjust routes and schedules, companies can save money on fuel and improve their competitive position by providing better and faster service to customers.
DSD solutions also help companies more effectively monitor vehicle costs, overtime, number of stops completed, route quality, idle time, and average stop time. If there are problems with a driver, a customer, or a particular route, managers can more easily identify the problem and address it quickly.
A DSD solution with mapping and routing functionality also improves address accuracy, and mobile DSD solutions can help improve inventory and delivery accuracy. Drivers can dynamically manage inventory on the shelf and in the truck, while providing accurate counts for stales and returns. The solution can be configured to automatically trigger reorders when specific stock levels are reached.
Drivers can also use the information available on the mobile computer (such as sales history) to work more closely with customers to increase sales or adjust orders to meet changes in demand. This prevents over- or under-ordering and strengthens the customer relationship.
DSD solutions working in conjunction with mobile computers and mobile printers can improve the efficiency and accuracy of your direct store delivery operation while also improving customer service. If your delivery processes still rely on paper forms and manual data collection, an investment in DSD automation can provide a rapid return on investment.