Over the past decade, the food and beverage delivery industry has become much more complicated. The number of SKUs for product varieties — everything from gluten-free bread to flavored smart waters and craft beers — has grown significantly. And the challenges of managing a larger inventory has occurred at the same time when consumer packaged goods (CPG) retailers are demanding faster delivery. And they’re ready to switch to competitors that can provide it.
To stay competitive and profitable, route and direct store delivery (DSD) operations are searching for solutions that can help them manage a larger, more diverse inventory, automate processes, and operate more efficiently.
Most route accounting and DSD operations have made the switch to mobile technology from paper-based recordkeeping. Mobile devices enable drivers to communicate with their offices in real time, keeping inventory, payment, and delivery data up to date. In addition, mobile technology allows drivers to quickly and accurately generate invoices, receipts, and other e-ticketing documents, which drastically reduces downtime and improves productivity. Mobile technology also gives route or DSD drivers the ability to improve customer experiences: It instantly connects drivers with account and inventory information, resulting in on-the-spot answers and real-time updates.
Even though much of the route accounting and DSD process can be managed digitally, mobile printers remain a critical part of the driver’s toolkit. With a mobile printer, the driver can create shelf labels for the stores on his routes, update invoices or receipts with last-minute orders, confirm credits for breakage or returns, and print real-time proof of delivery tickets with the customer’s signature captured via a tablet or other handheld device. Depending on the driver’s route, pick-up or deliveries may occur in areas without reliable network coverage, such as in a remote oil field, so a mobile printer provides the option to generate documents with signatures when real-time communication with the cloud service isn’t possible.
Pairing the mobile printer — such as Brother’s new RJ-4200 series — with a mobile device allows route accounting and DSD drivers to save potentially up to 60 minutes per day on deliveries. For companies with hundreds of daily routes, that adds up to measurable ROI.
Opportunities for ISVs
With Microsoft ending support for Windows Mobile, many route accounting and DSD operations are now forced to migrate to a new operating system, and many are drawn to Android and iOS for their ease of use and device options. For ISVs, this gives you the opportunity to reinvent route accounting and DSD solutions. Unlike early solutions for this industry, however, you have the advantage of feedback from end users that have used these solutions for years, which you can incorporate into solutions perfectly tailored for the industry.
To find success in this market, it is necessary to form smart integration partnerships. The best strategy is to form alliances with mobility hardware vendors with experience designing solutions for route accounting and DSD. Vendors that know the industry will have hardware with features important to this market, including durability, battery life, ergonomics, and will actually answer the phone if you need hardware or software engineering support.
Hardware vendors with experience in providing solutions to route accounting and DSD operations will also be able to help you with solutions for common pain points. For example, Brother understands the need for these companies to deploy and upgrade mobile solutions more quickly and easily, so we’ve developed our free cloud-based Mobile Deploy printer management app. It also enhances ROI of hardware solutions by allowing centralized and remote management for all Brother mobile printers in the field. We also excel in reproducing bitmapped generated documents, such as signatures captured digitally, and printing logos and images so the tickets generated in the field are extremely legible and professional.
When you partner with a mobility hardware vendor, it’s smart to look beyond solutions for a single industry. It will save you time and resources to integrate with mobility hardware with applications inside the four walls as well as for route accounting and DSD.
Route accounting and DSD operations are looking for software applications that can help them through industry disruption and allow them to stay competitive. Take the opportunity to provide the solutions they need — and to grow your business.