Digital Transformation in Food Service Distribution: Today and Tomorrow

Dave Foreman

With the rapid pace of change in the technology industry, as well as the food service distribution industry, food service distributors can quickly find themselves stuck from a technical standpoint.

Once you create the foundation for your software, you can’t change the way the system works. It’s impossible to take advantage of today’s technology on some of the older solutions that food distributors are using. We’ve seen that while you may be updating your warehouse solution or other systems, the core system that runs your business often gets neglected.

Most of the products that food service distributors are running their businesses on today are very transactional in nature; focused on moving the transaction through the system, whether it’s an order that comes in, getting it to the warehouse, getting an invoice out, or getting the financials done. This has been true of business management, or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions for the first 25 years of their existence.

However, while the food distribution industry has been focused on transactions, there has been a digital transformation. We’ve moved from transactional to the cloud, but not just cloud. Digital transformation causes us to ask “what can we do in the cloud?”.

With modern cloud ERP, we’re looking at how an ERP system can do more than just transact, but how can it make us more efficient, how can it help us stay top of mind with customers.

When we were introduced to the cloud, about 8 years ago, the focus started to shift to being mobile-enabled and enabling automated workflows – how can the system take information it is given and either take an action on its own or notify a human to take an action. That’s where the value is – It helps us drive efficiency. It gives us greater insight into what’s right, what’s wrong, and what actions need to take place. It helps us stay top of mind with customers because it is looking for these trigger conditions and then doing something, like sending an email or text to a customer, or notifying a salesperson.

That’s where we are today.

What’s more interesting is where we’re heading in the next 3-4 years. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), the software is going the next step to look at other conditions and not just wait for you to interact with it, it’s going to suggest what you should be doing.

Even today, AI and ML are starting to make their way into the software by looking at PDFs and scraping information from a PDF, trying to determine what it’s saying, and putting that into the system. Every time it does that, the system is learning and getting more and more accurate. There are lots of applications for that capability within the food distribution business setting.

When it comes to Digital Transformation, it’s not just about “what can I get if I change my system today.” It’s a question of “how can I stay competitive 3+, 4+ years from now when everyone else is starting to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to have the software help them run their businesses and make smarter decisions, or even making decisions for them in many cases.

To take advantage of where we are today and moving forward, you need to have a modern platform to do that on. That is what is made possible with Prime FoodService Software and Acumatica, the fastest selling ERP platform on the market.

Learn more about digital transformation in the food service distribution industry and how Prime FoodService Software, with Acumatica, can prepare you to thrive today and tomorrow. View this on-demand webinar now!