Take Advantage Of Economic Downturn

The slow economy means downtime for many distributors. Now is the time to invest in people and systems that will help you get through any current difficulties and position your company to profit from the rebound that is sure to come.

New enterprise technology can assist foodservice distributors in getting through difficult economic times. Distributors can leverage functionality that allows them to become easier to do business with, promoting customer loyalty by making the entire ordering process easier. New system capabilities can also help distributors buy better, letting them take advantage of every possible supplier discount and assisting them in tightly managing the collection of rebates and chargebacks from suppliers.

Additionally, new technology can enable distributors to operate more efficiently, replacing low value activities with ones that provide greater business benefit.

Taking advantage of new enterprise technology is not new to the wholesale distribution industry. Many distributors have already put new enterprise technology in place to drive superior performance and profitable growth. For others, however, the timing has not been right to improve their systems.

Implementing new systems can be temporarily disruptive and requires some of the best business people to be on the project. As most distributors run their business with lean headcount, high operational demands during bullish economic times often prohibits them from investing in new systems.

The foodservice distribution industry is full of some very adaptive and loyal companies. During tough times, they do not often have major layoffs, as they prefer to retain experienced employees needed when transaction volumes pick up and growth begins again. Their opportunity to retool is now, during this economic slowdown.

They can take advantage of this slower period to place experienced "subject matter experts" on projects that will help pave the way for profitable growth in the future.

Following a new system implementation and post "go live" tuning, many employees who were on the project get redeployed back into the business, adding new strategic business experiences to their existing tactical operational backgrounds, increasing their value to the company.

When economic growth begins, distributors with new enabling enterprise technology in place will be prepared to grow profitably, not just grow. The agile distributors who can leverage new industry-specific solutions will have a competitive advantage over traditional distributors who must continue to rely on dated and disparate systems.

In an economic downturn, traditional distributors face the challenges of streamlining operations, enhancing efficiencies and reducing overall costs. Midsize and smaller distributors are additionally constrained by time, budgets and resources. That’s why SAP offers a wholesale distribution-specific pre-configured enterprise solution to support business agility.

By clearly defining how the software will behave for standard wholesale distribution business processes (best practices), system implementations are streamlined, minimizing business disruption and cost and maximizing enterprise-wide adoption and benefit.

Imagine if you could efficiently support business growth of the future with wholesale distribution-specific functionality, not generic technology, effectively execute on business decisions made from current information, not latent data, and rapidly adapt to new business requirements by changing process rules not software code.

SAP enterprise solutions today delivers on all three of these requirements. Now is the time to take advantage of an economic downturn to prepare your foodservice distribution business for a prosperous future.

Pretko is an industry principal for wholesale distribution at SAP America, Newtown Square, PA. He is a wholesale distribution technology and operations leader with over 25 years of experience in distribution and logistics environments, executing operational improvement strategies through technology. He can be reached at paul.pretko@sap.com.

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