The food and beverage industry has already started to gradually integrate digital technologies and solutions into production processes and across their value chains. As we all adapt to the “New Normal” and align to market volatility combined with new demands, companies are more under pressure than ever to improve their agility and resiliency. This has been a fantastic propeller to accelerate digitization.
Manufacturers’ supply chains are complex and well-integrated both upstream and downstream. As the pandemic forced companies to reorganize supply chains more regionally, challenges arise such as fast adaption, flexibility and visibility across these complex systems.
Growing consumer demand for more healthy and sustainable products has accelerated pushing for more access to trusted, reliable and transparent information around the products’ journey. Companies and retailers need to react quickly. Recent research from McKinsey found that the pandemic has sped up online grocery shopping adoption by 10 years in the space of only three months.
Technological solutions are already available to address these challenges and turn companies into more sustainable efficient and resilient businesses.
The food disruption
The growth and development of the food and beverage industry has been mostly about scale, the ability of the world’s biggest mass market brands to shape developing markets and to drive and expand their businesses even further, while driving costs down and increasing productivity.
Then, food and beverage companies realized the importance of collaborating with their entire “ecosystem,” including customers, employees, communities, partners and suppliers as well as their shareholders, each of them having a different definition of “value.” Before the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), there was a fundamental change of thinking in the food and beverage industry around aligning with the value that these different stakeholders place on the manufactured products.
Then COVID-19 happened, ushering in a ‘New Normal.’ The pandemic added further disruption to supply chains that were already challenged with variety and velocity, amplifying the need for resilience and increased visibility across the supply chain.
Suddenly, the need for an increased visibility into their entire suppliers’ network became prevalent. Tracking and tracing the manufactured products downstream in the supply chain up to the point of sale to improve traceability, better manage inventory and logistics streams, reduce food fraud opportunities, enable quicker product recalls and align with consumers’ requirement is also needed for more transparency.
Trust in product data for transparency
The internet has changed consumer behavior forever, and the pandemic only accelerated the shift to the online world. Today, the path to purchase includes a whole suite of tools both on and offline.
Product visibility with complete and quality information relevant for consumer’s decision is now more important than ever with the rise of e-commerce. As consumers can’t physically see or touch products when shopping online, manufacturers and retailers need to ensure a seamless shopping experience, making sure the product information are accurate and visible across all their channels.
Therefore, it is urgent for manufacturers and retailers to collect correct, qualified and complete information to position the products in top search results, to increase the visibility on e-commerce platforms and to deliver product transparency for consumer’s buying decision.
This growing demand is also driving for a more “intelligent” packaging, enabling an increased visibility and access to specific data such as origin of ingredients, supplier ethics and practices as well as environmental impact, thanks to QR codes, serialization and track-and-trace technologies. Consumers can directly interact with the product and the brand via multiple smartphone apps and have access to the requested data.
Failing to meet these expectations can make consumers suspicious of the industry and susceptible to criticism from social and traditional media. Therefore, it requires full product data information to be accessible.
As consumers move rapidly between the online and physical world, they expect consistent product information along their individual paths to purchase. They demand deeper details than just the label info. For this reason, manufacturing companies and retailers, jointly working together, need to carefully ensure seamless experience around their omnichannel strategies. Because without accurate, robust and centralized product information, they may experience lower online purchases, higher product returns, lower customer experience and a serious risk of brand damage.
Companies manage a huge amount of product data often siloed and not well maintained or managed within their organization. Altogether, the need for a “centralized digital version of the truth” for products data is paramount, as well as a near real-time synchronization, so that all channels have current and updated information based on a retailers’ and manufacturers’ collaborative approach toward standard product data attributes.
Providing a single version of truth
Today, as more consumers are digital shoppers and retailers use an omnichannel strategy to better serve them, it is becoming more and more complex for a manufacturing company to distribute product content in a consistent manner to all the channels at the same time.
Retailers are requesting more rapid access to information. Often new product content is required in a maximum of 48 hours. In order to share consistent information across the enterprise, product data needs to be dynamic, merged, centralized and up to date. If not done properly the sharing of information is very inefficient, unreliable and prone to errors and misinterpretation.
Thankfully, there are new solutions to better manage the information related to products, such as product information management (PIM), which serves as a system of reference that centralizes all end-product data and makes it available to stakeholders internally and externally. The solution assures that product data can be standardized, centralized and distributed with complete security along the downstream supply chain stakeholders.
Therefore, it gives consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies a single version of truth for their product data and delivers significant operational efficiencies and improved business performance. This has been accelerating during the pandemic with the urgent need of more collaboration between manufacturing companies and retailers to better serve the end consumers. The PIM solution serves as a collaborative tool between manufacturing companies and retailers to ensure fast and accurate data sharing in case of any disruption, from the supply chain and/or in case of ingredients shortage that might impact product recipe and therefore labels on packaging. The solution enables the ecosystem to quickly adapt and provides a seamless experience, and accurate and updated information to consumers.
Click here to learn more about how technology provides a singular truth, even in the COVID-19 vaccine:
Digitization in the food and beverage Industry
Digital transformation represents an opportunity to reduce costs, increase productivity and grow revenue, all while improving sustainability. This has been key for manufacturers to adapt quickly, as providing flexibility, agility and visibility across their supply chain enabling them to build a resilient, credible and sustainable value chain.
Manufacturers have pivoted from making beer to hand sanitizer, adapting quickly to meet changing demands. As highlighted by the World Economic Forum in their report “Digital Transformation Powering the Great reset 2020”, 47% of companies who pivoted to competing in new digital ways have achieved more than 10% of organic growth over the past three years. Companies that were fortunate enough to digitize parts of their supply chain and operations before the crisis hit found themselves in a much better position to adapt quickly to new disruptions.