As one of the world’s most dynamic and fast-growing sectors, the hospitality sector is an attractive market for food and beverage suppliers. Wholesalers targeting the HoReCa (Hotel, restaurant, café/catering) industry have to deal with some unique challenges. A wholesale ordering software can help you to become a major supplier to this industry by addressing some of those issues.
Challenges of supplying the HoReCa industry
The hospitality industry is highly dependent on the distribution chain when it comes to food and beverage. As food is highly perishable, this industry is reliant upon wholesalers being able to safely and efficiently provide products, any time they are needed.
In addition, hoteliers, chefs and caterers are constantly challenged by their guests looking for new culinary experiences, eating according to ever-changing health trends, preferring seasonal produce and more.
HoReCa wholesalers and distributors need to be flexible and provide a high level of service to meet the following challenges -
- Increased demand for locally sourced produce
- Different food establishments require products of different quality and price
- Changing trends in food consumption means keeping up with a variety of products
- Seasonality affecting demand and availability of certain products
- Customers have limited on-site storage space, requiring constant replenishment
- Customers expect the freshest ingredients
All of the above contribute to the desperate need of HoReCa wholesale distributors to handle an ever-growing number of orders from their customers, to carry a large number of SKUs and to enable quick replenishment of products. That puts enormous pressure on their field operations.
How to better service your customers
Look for a solution with the following capabilities:
1. Present your products in the most attractive way
A flexible and customizable e-catalog is vital when working in the HORECA industry as there are so many products, and those keep changing all the time. Products need to be categorized to make finding items quick and simple – be that based on product categories (spirits, wines, dairy products etc.), seasonal products, or items on promotions - speeding up the ordering process for both customers and sales reps.
Product descriptions, nutritional values and visual images are just as important. Detailed product information will ensure that sales reps can quickly and accurately answer questions.
2. Simplify complex orders
The HoReCa industry has more complex sets of requirements than others. Hotels may want orders delivered to multiple shipping addresses if they have several branches in the same chain, or request that different items are delivered on different dates. Restaurants may need deliveries more frequently due to the short shelf-life of food and limited on-site storage space, so submitting and processing replenishment orders in the most effective way is a must.
All these different requests (and many more) will need to be managed efficiently, so it’s important that your wholesale ordering software can deal with these complex processes, without overloading drivers and sales reps.
3. Direct store delivery
Integrating your wholesale ordering software with a direct store delivery solution will also help to streamline the entire process and optimize your distribution logistics. When every activity performed by your staff is geo-tagged and time-stamped, you get full control and visibility of your route staff operations, as well as up-to-date information on van inventory status. It also means you can notify your customers of accurate delivery times and provide electronic proof of delivery.
4. Seamless back office integration
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of supplying this industry is speed. Food needs to be fresh when it’s delivered so there need to be a very short space of time between taking the order and getting it delivered. Immediate syncing with back office systems - ERP, accounting, warehouse system etc. - is vital. It lets your field staff know of out-of-stock items and once an order is taken, it will be immediately transmitted for processing, so delivery can be put in motion as soon as possible.
5. Mobile apps mean speed and efficiency
With sales reps continuously out in the field, your sales software must be tailored for mobility, so they can deliver products and take orders wherever they find themselves. Offline capability is a must – there’s no way an unreliable internet connection should put a delivery or a sale on hold.
Although the hospitality industry has its challenges, by making sure your wholesale ordering software incorporates the features above, your customers will remain happy and satisfied.
Watch this video to learn more about what you need in a sales force automation solution for the Food and Beverage industry.