Creating Disruption in Food and Beverage Distribution – Like Amazon in Retail

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The results of the second Amazon Prime event were impressive as they added 19 million U.S. members since the last Prime Day — for a total of 63 million as of June 30, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, or CIRP, in Chicago.

Amazon has also expanded Prime with the launch of its Prime Now restaurant service last August. What’s unique about Prime Now is that the cost is the same as eating at the restaurant itself given there are no delivery fees.

Amazon is hoping its Prime services will increase sales by providing a shopping experience powered by a digital ecosystem that resonates with today’s on-the-go lifestyles. They are tapping into the busy family that is managing their children’s schedules, a long list of work responsibilities and basic household needs such as feeding the family. Amazon is providing a solution in an easy-to-use self-serve portal to help families shop and put food on the table.

As a distributor, take a moment and consider the daily challenges that your customers face. They are managing any number of employees, customer requests and basic business needs such as order management. If you think about it, your customers’ work lifestyle is somewhat comparable to their personal lifestyle.

Does this then open the door to disruptive opportunity in the B2B market as well? What if you offered a self-serve portal where your customers order their inventory anytime, anywhere rather than requiring them to meet a sales rep to take their orders? They may appreciate the ability to order inventory at a more convenient time such as in the morning before the hectic day begins. Using the portal, they may have more time to peruse new products, see sale items or send a question to customer service.

If you offered this service, you are also able to generate additional efficiencies for your business. One advantage will be the ability to redirect your staff’s efforts towards value-add activities. For instance, customer service can focus on solving problems versus sending out product catalogues. Your sales teams can focus on developing and executing sales strategies for strategic accounts rather than spending their time order taking.

It can also help save marketing costs. You can host an online “No Show Food Show” to highlight new products rather than hosting your annual food show. Also moving online will reduce print costs for product catalogues. Another big advantage is to offer your vendors a more targeted approach for promoting specific line items from order guides by giving more prominence to a specific audience segment.

Amazon is a significant disruptive force in the B2C market. The challenge is how to carry a similar disruptive advantage into the B2B world of food and beverage distribution and possibly extending right into home delivery.

Learn more about AFS Order Management System.