For many wholesalers, direct store delivery (DSD) offers benefits that centralized distribution doesn’t. While centralized distribution works for items that ship easily, don’t require special handling, and that have a long shelf life, DSD as a sales channel is suitable for all products and gets items delivered to customers quickly and directly (hence the name!).
But direct store delivery does come with its challenges. First, you’ll have to keep your field staff organized, productive and up-to-date with the latest product and sales information so that they don’t miss out on spur-of-the-moment retail opportunities.
You’ll also have to keep your sales order management software and inventory data well-organized and ensure that transportation costs don’t run too high. To avoid these and other challenges, we recommend implementing these best practices in your DSD sales model:
Connect your systems & data
With so many field staff making deliveries and taking customer orders at different times, it’s essential that you keep your data organized and accessible from a single platform. This means that rather than using traditional pen-and-paper methods to enter sales and order information, you should use DSD software that’s easy to use and accessible to route staff, sales reps, and back-office staff alike.
This is where route accounting software is indispensable, as it can integrate your field sales, distribution logistics, inventory management, invoicing and payment collection. It will give route staff access to relevant information quickly and efficiently, and it will also eliminate the errors that inevitably come with pen-and-paper order entry. It’s essential that your software integrate real-time with your core systems, including your ERP, so that your field staff are consistently informed and up-to-date (as will your back office staff).
Keep your field staff informed
Your sales reps shouldn’t be the only ones who know the ins and outs of your company’s products. Your drivers should also be informed so that they can make sales and address customer inquires in the field.
As part of your DSD sales strategy, give your staff access to an e-Catalog with images and comprehensive product information. Your staff will also need access to customer sales data and order history. This will allow them to better advise customers and give them the product recommendations that help close sales.
To drive even more sales, you can provide your route staff with 'account-specific' promotions based on what you know about customer preferences and order history.
By using a digital platform that gives your field staff quick and easy access to customer and product information, online and also offline when disconnected from the network, you can effectively turn them into sales reps. Even when making a delivery, your field staff will be prepared to make a sale from anywhere, at any time.
With so many deliveries happening simultaneously, it’s critical that manufacturers and wholesale distributors have an organized system for tracking activities going on in the field. In addition to digitally organizing their sales and product information, managers should also have real-time access to information about staff locations and completed tasks. That way, they can ensure that route staff are on schedule, making deliveries on time and accurately responding to last-minute sales and delivery requests.
While it’s important to empower field staff with access to vital sales info, it’s also important that managers can oversee the direct store delivery process to minimize the number of mistakes your field staff make.
To further keep track of deliveries and sales, digital delivery and order entry platforms support electronic proof of delivery (ePOD), invoicing, and payments, and shorten the billing cycle in the process.
Use a route accounting app
Field staff no longer have to map out their routes on paper or memorize delivery stops by heart. Instead, they should be able to use their smartphones and tablets to map out the route for them.
Rather than opening up Google Maps and entering their delivery stops manually, field staff can be equipped with route accounting software that integrates with popular map applications. They can see their scheduled locations and with a click of a button have Waze, Google Maps or Apple Maps guide them to their next destination.
A route accounting app is essential for direct store delivery because it streamlines the delivery and ordering process, saving both time and money.
Make the most of mobility
Field staff need access to all customer, product, and sales information while on the road and mobile devices combined with a route accounting software can easily provide this.
Rather than purchase new devices for all your employees, you should use a DSD platform that’s accessible on a variety of operating systems, allowing field reps to 'bring their own device' while on the road. The platform needs to include offline functionality so that field staff can access data and information even when at retail stores or other locations.
Go native for added benefits
A native mobile app that works on both Android and iOS will be able to take advantage of the device's built-in features such as camera for scanning barcodes, calendar, push notifications and geo-location functionality to log places and times - enabling companies to collect valuable information on their drivers, while facilitating employee ease-of-use.
Direct store delivery shouldn’t be a haphazard process, by using the latest DSD and Route Accounting technology, wholesalers and distributors can not only optimize their DSD sales, they can also upgrade their route staff to make sales!
Want to hear more about DSD & Van-Sales? Schedule a demo to see Pepperi in action.