OPERATIONSNew processes are necessary for your organization.

By Scott Deutsch

I recently visited a third-generation wholesale distributor whose business was being challenged by its customers’ growing service level expectations. It appeared to the company’s owner that consumer supply chain advancements were hindering his business’ ability to keep up while providing no protection to its profitability.

While the business attempted to keep up with the times, its technology infrastructure investments have been targeted. Much of its investments have been around improving the technical knowledge of its sales and support teams to further differentiate and create a value proposition that has been able to limit margin shrinkage. The company has also invested heavily in its fleet operations, which has enabled its to greatly expand their delivery frequency and reduce parcel costs dramatically.

OP NON DURABLEBy Angela Fernandez

With so many ways to order take-out, dine out or prepare food at home, it’s a great time to be a consumer. Not only do our smart devices provide direct access to ingredients, allergens, recommendations and sustainability information, we have varied delivery and pick-up options and new services that personalize and curate our meal experiences. 

In this data-driven marketplace, it could not be more critical for foodservice businesses to improve data accuracy and operational efficiencies. Foodservice distributors recognize that they can play a key role in enabling the fast and accurate flow of data through proactive collaboration with manufacturers, operators and other supply chain partners. Through the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative, innovative distributors work together to drive waste out of the foodservice supply chain, improve product information, and enhance food traceability. They achieve these goals using the GS1 System of Standards, which include unique product identification numbers, data capture methods such as barcodes, and the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN), which enables trading partners to globally exchange product information in an automatic and efficient way.

GS1 US recently interviewed executives from two leading foodservice distribution companies — Dot Foods and Gordon Food Service — who play a leadership role in the initiative. They shared their views on three key topics that shed light on how distributors have become a critical link in the foodservice supply chain in the data-driven marketplace. 

OP MANUFACTURERS
By Steve Damerow

How do you differentiate your wholesale offerings when competitors have similar product lines trying to sell to the same B2B audience? In a decent economy that, however, has not been able to grow more than 3 percent GDP over the past 10-plus years, how do you generate above average sales increases that your CFO demands?

The answer is to be among the first to take advantage of the new technology and smartphones that appeal to the majority of America’s workforce.

OP DURABLEBy Tony Donofrio, Stephen Francis and Jim Shepherd

Imagine a water tank with two valves: one lets water out at the bottom, the other refills the tank from the top. If we let too much water in, the tank overflows; if we don’t keep up with the rate of consumption, we end up with too little (or none). Many organizations manage inventory by manually draining and refilling their “tank’” at will.

The problem with this is that they can only hope to hit the optimal level of inventory by accident. The result is stock-outs – the water in the tank goes to zero – or cash that is tied up in excess inventory. Like water in a tank becoming stagnant, inventory ages. Given enough time, the inventory becomes obsolete and that cash has gone down the drain.

FLEET LIABILITYHere are ways to reduce your fleet’s liability.

By Stephen Washkalavitch

In 2016, the U.S. commercial auto industry reported a combined underwriting ratio of 110.4 percent – a 15-year high according to a recently released Fitch Ratings report – and has also produced an underwriting loss for six consecutive years. With this consistent poor performance, it isn’t surprising that the industry has also seen the fastest-escalating insurance rates compared to all major commercial segments. Liability premiums grew by nearly six percent in the last year alone.

The notable hike in premiums is partly attributed to the increased frequency of claims. In 2016, Verisk Analytics reported that accident occurrences were at their highest level in decades, rising steeply throughout 2014 and 2015. Insurers are not only witnessing more claims, but also an uptick in claim severity. For instance, the cost of repairs has risen significantly over the last several years as a result of the types of automobiles on the road. Since the effects of the 2008 recession are lessening, people are beginning to purchase newer, more modern vehicles. These cars are often embedded with expensive technology like adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist features. Accidents that damage this technology can be extremely costly to repair.

EFFICIENCYThere are many ways to automate your warehouses.

By Derek O'Carroll

Technology-driven automation often sparks images of "robots," especially in warehouse situations where thousands zip throughout a fulfillment center picking orders. Take Amazon for example; which has determined that adding an army of robots is the key to improving revenue and the customer experience by making their distribution centers (DCs) as efficient as possible.

For small to medium-sized businesses, the ability to compete with large brands deploying leading edge technology may seem unimaginable. The reality is that there are technology solutions that can make warehouse and distribution operations efficient across smaller businesses' entire operations. Improving efficiency enhances margins and drives bottom line impacts while allowing for successful omnichannel growth.

The results of using solutions that marry automation and technology for warehouse efficiency exist today. Some improve perfect order rates and lower costs and processing time by reducing human error and speeding up the picking process. Others streamline workflows and order processing by removing inefficient human intervention that focuses solely on checking order details and accuracy – actions technology can easily manage.

CAPITAL INVESTMENTS
Which warehouse management system is right for your digital order profile?

By Richard Barnes

In a recent column, I discussed how distribution centers are going to have to deal with a more diverse order profile in the new digital age.

Wholesale orders will be changing from pallet-size orders to case-size orders. Digital orders from the web will be more frequent with a smaller number of items and customers will ultimately be ordering only what they need. Previously, I examined the four major picking categories, including the advantages and disadvantages of each. This article will explore the features of warehouse management systems (WMS) so you can determine the correct WMS for your digital order profile.

OP MANUFACTURERS REPS 01By Sanford E. Watson

Manufacturers’ representatives often are sued by consumers. Some claims are related to advertising, while others may allege that a product itself is defective or unsafe. In the vast majority of these lawsuits, the manufacturer – not the representative – is the true target. Being sued may be inevitable depending upon the industry, but there are certain precautions manufacturers’ representatives can take to avoid or mitigate the impact of any lawsuit. In my practice defending manufacturers’ representatives, I have identified four common mistakes that can paint a target on the back of any unknowing manufacturer’s representative.

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