Peter van der Merwe is the chief executive officer of Qnetex by CSD
BW: What is the biggest or most common mistake that wholesalers make?
PvdM: Not prioritising getting a single view of their entire business. It’s easy for teams to get so focused on their own processes that they end up working separately, using completely different systems and recording data in different ways and in different places.
That makes it almost impossible to share information across the business and get clear insights into how efficient the company is as a whole, though, so spotting problems and opportunities is much harder.
How can wholesalers understand their customers better and why does this matter?
The visibility issue is key here, too. Most customers will have more than one touchpoint with you (it might be a website or app, or by phone, email, social media, in person and so on). If your data is spread out, however, it’s hard to build up a clear picture of their overall behaviour and interactions – so relationships are often weak and loyalty is low.
You need to look at the whole journey your customers are on, not just single interactions, which means bridging the gaps between different information silos. Food waste can be a big problem for foodservice outlets, and has been exacerbated in some instances by the ongoing nationwide driver shortage. How does your solution help wholesalers manage food waste for their customers?
Ultimately, you best help your customers avoid wastage by making sure the food you bring them is as fresh as possible and that it arrives exactly when they need it. That means you need to have excellent stock control and warehouse management and tight delivery processes.
Qnetex gives you all the insight you need for your purchasing in a single glance – from historical and forecasted sales to current stock figures and expiry dates. It’s also set up to record a high level of detail (and flexibly handle non-standard data), which minimises problems such as misplaced stock, lost orders and incorrect picking. With everything from automated route-planning to vehicle tracking and real-time journey dashboards, it hugely reduces delays and errors with deliveries.
Qnetex has been supplying foodservice software for 31 years
How much slack is there in a typical wholesaler’s supply chain, and how much of an efficiency gain is possible through embracing the right technology?
It’s not about how much efficiency you can gain using the right tech – it’s that you can’t gain any without it. Most wholesalers hold three-to-four weeks’ worth of stock, to cope with supply disruptions and so on. Increasingly, though, businesses are seeing the huge benefits of just-in-time (JIT) stock control, such as more warehouse space, less wastage and better cashflow.
JIT is only achievable if you can manage purchasing processes and supplier interactions extremely quickly and flexibly – and that’s almost impossible without the technology to automate and digitalise those processes.
Read more: How has the technological landscape of the wholesale channel changed?
One dilemma with new technologies is how well they fit with an existing system. How easily does your software fit with an existing wholesaler’s delivery IT?
Most of our customers only need to integrate Qnetex with one or two other systems, as it brings together most of the key elements of your business (from purchasing and warehousing to sales and deliveries) in a single ERP.
When they do need to connect it with other bits of software – such as Sage Accounting or Phocas BI, etc – we’ve never run into any problems, it’s built to be very accessible. The same goes for the standalone elements of Qnetex, such as our warehousing software Qstock or our ePOD solution Qdrop.