Food and beverage manufacturers and distributors have a lot to gain from the new digital tools available to them today.
Industry-specific software programs can enable food manufacturers to improve both the front- and back-ends of their operations. Software is getting more adept at taking advantage of data generated by inventory management, supply chain management, and customer behavior tracking. The resulting data, combined in some cases with machine learning, can yield increasingly valuable insights for business leaders.
Software programs may also make it easier to comply with certain laws and regulations by keeping clear records and allowing users to monitor compliance.
Plus, now that many programs are moving to a “software as a service” model, businesses can get started with top-of-the-line software more quickly and affordably than in the past.
Here are five types of SaaS tools that modern food and beverage manufacturers are using today.
A Web-based POS system
Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable ordering food and beverage products online.
As this Forbes piece sums up, “grocery may be one of the rare markets where brick-and-mortar retailers—rather than Amazon—are actually setting the pace.” Almost half of consumers had purchased a “consumer packaged good” online in the past three months. For millennials, the rate was even higher, at 61%, and among Gen Xers, it was 55%.
Food and beverage manufacturers should take this data to heart. Although in the past, consumers may have hesitated to buy a food product direct from the manufacturer online, neglecting to create an online presence these days could put your business at a significant disadvantage.
A point of sale system that integrates both wholesale, retail, and ecommerce sales can be a huge benefit.
These modern POS systems integrate directly with your website and can manage in-store sales, online sales, and wholesale orders. This makes managing inventory across channels much easier, and gives users access to real-time financial reports from all sales channels.
Once your web store is up and running, you can also start to diversify sales, such as with branded apparel and accessories (for example, pint glasses for brewers and mugs for coffee roasters).
Your ecommerce systems may also come equipped with integrations to other programs, such as marketing (email marketing, social media), customer service, and boosting conversion rates.
Dynamic Pricing Software
To stay profitable, food and beverage manufacturers must be vigilant about how they price their products each day.
The cost to make food and beverage products can change with little notice in the face of natural disasters, severe weather, health concerns, and even political factors, such as changing import laws.
Taking too long to come up with these quotes can hurt your business. The process typically used to come up with quotes for food products can require a lot of time for back-and-forth negotiations and internal approvals. The resulting slowdowns can cause big frustrations for your clients, as this Manufacturing.net column notes. If your competitors can provide better quotes more quickly, you’ll start to lose business.
To speed up the process and make it more transparent, some food and beverage companies are using “dynamic pricing software.” These programs use machine-guided learning to calculate ideal prices based on the market factors that are important to your company.
Pricing management software can replace all of the spreadsheets your team was manually updating and save hours of time. It can also include other useful features, such as the ability to analyze customers’ buying patterns to identify new opportunities, and the ability to manage communications and quotes through a CRM system.
Enterprise Resource Planning Software
There are many internal processes that must happen quickly and without error each day at a food and beverage manufacturing facility.
Manufacturing staff must obtain the raw materials required to make their products, keep a firm handle on inventory, manage relationships with supply chain partners, process sales, and oversee distribution, to name a few.
Enterprise resource planning software can help automate and streamline many of these processes.
ERP software, which can generally be described as software that helps businesses manage their core processes, is used in many industries. Today, there are several solutions that were developed just for the food and beverage manufacturing industry. Although these kinds of programs have traditionally been deployed “on site” through installed software, a growing number are offering SaaS-based models (source: Software Advice).
Programs like Priority Food and Beverage can help streamline processes with tools such as these:
- workflow building
- forecast and demand planning
- production planning and scheduling
- shelf-life and seasonality management
- raw materials and inventory visibility
- tracking and traceability
- batch control/tracking
An ERP program may also come with an impressive suite of financial tools to help you manage budgets, make payroll, and identify savings opportunities. The reporting power that these systems provide can help you spot any potential problems and get a better feel for how your operation is running.
Quality Assurance and Safety Testing Software
Food and beverage manufacturers have plenty of responsibilities when ensuring their products are safe to eat. Different governments regulate safety in different ways, but they all tend to require that food manufacturers implement best practices for facility security, ingredient tracking, testing of the final product, and safe transportation.
Food safety analysis software can make the process of checking for safety throughout the supply chain easier. These programs also provide good records that can prepare your facility for any potential audits.
As one example, the company Safetychain touts the following features:
- SmartCapture Mobile Forms
- Sampling & Grading
- Real-TIme Alerts & Reports
- Pre-Shipment Reviews
- Real-Time Spec Verification
- Corrective Actions
- Statistical Process Control (SPC)
- Task Scheduling
Some ERP programs for the food and beverage industry already come equipped with supply chain management and testing features, but other manufacturers might prefer to use a more specialized option.
Visitor Management Software
If you’re like most food and beverage manufacturers, you welcome many visitors into your facilities throughout the day. Visitors may include contractors checking in for repairs, drivers making deliveries, or executives coming in for meetings.The best food and beverage manufacturers have learned to be proactive about managing all visitors. #receptionistapp Click To Tweet
Left to their own devices, visitors can interrupt your employees and even pose safety and security threats.
Someone wandering through the office unescorted could accidentally stumble upon a dangerous area of your plant, for example, or access sensitive areas without being noticed. These threats can result in injury, contamination, fines from regulatory agencies, and all kinds of business interruptions.
A solid visitor management plan will protect your plant (an effort that is required by regulations such as the U.S. Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2011), protect the people inside, and make a great impression on visitors.
Visitor management software takes your front desk staff through the steps required to create the perfect check-in process for each visitor type. Users can add legal agreements, safety videos, and custom fields to the check-in process for each visitor type.
Visitors can even start the check-in process themselves through tablets stationed at entrances.
With a program like The Receptionist, administrators at food and beverage manufacturers can view visitor data from across multiple facilities in real time.
To learn more about how food and beverage manufacturers are using The Receptionist visitor management software to streamline their operations, click here.
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