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 have long shelf lives, DSD software is suitable for all products and gets items to customers quickly and directly.
Nonetheless, direct store delivery comes 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, it’s important to implement these best practices in your DSD sales model:
Connect your systems and 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 a DSD software that’s accessible to route staff, sales reps, and back-office staff alike.
This is where a 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 come with pen-and-paper order entry. It’s essential that your software integrate real-time with your core systems, including your CRM and 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 information about products. You should also equip your staff with access to customer sales data and order history. Together, this information 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 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 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 information, 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
In this day and age, field staff shouldn’t 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 a route accounting software that integrates with popular map applications. They can see their scheduled calls and with a click of a button get Waze or Apple Maps to guide them to their next stop.
A route accounting app is essential for direct store delivery because it streamlines the delivery and ordering process while saving 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 a uniform set of smart devices for all your employees, you can use a digital platform that’s accessible through a variety of operating systems, allowing field reps to use their own devices 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.
Direct store delivery shouldn’t be a haphazard process, by using the latest route accounting technology, wholesalers and distributors can, not only optimize their DSD sales, they can also use their route staff to sell!
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