We spoke to Steve Whitwam, commercial director at Harvest Fine Foods to discuss technological changes within their wholesale operations.
Harvest always had ideas to develop technology within the company as we recognised that our customer facing platforms were a little outdated. Although we were aware that this was an issue that needed addressing, the pandemic pushed our agenda forward as the world developed to be online. Historically around 10% of our Food Service order capture was placed via online ordering. While developing our Home Delivery business in the Spring of 2020, we quickly realised that dealing at a B2C level was so different to that of B2B that we were used to.
Since March 2020, our e-commerce system has had three new versions and is now unrecognisable to where it was a year ago. Our new B2C order capture runs at around 95%, and our Food Service (B2B) order capture now runs at around 50%. The developments we have put in are functional and aesthetic and are more in line with what shoppers would see on the familiar sites they are used to shopping on.
We decided early on while developing the Harvest to Home brand (our B2C business) to build a second e-commerce platform that would focus on retail pack sizes rather than massive Food Service products. Alongside two e-Commerce platforms came two new websites. Both brought our online presence into the modern age, showing great content targeted individually either to B2C or B2B via a bespoke site along with social media platforms for ‘Harvest to Home’ and ‘Harvest Chef’.
Along with our B2C offering came the need to communicate more effectively regarding expected delivery times. We developed a system to communicate with our customers with an approximate 2 hour delivery slot via email. We are likely to roll out this feature to our Food Service customers soon as well.
Our plans for the future also include developing more technology in our back of house operation, including the development of our WMS and looking at systems of picking, similar to systems used in retail home delivery that we plan to roll out over 2021 and 2022