Simplifying Complex Sales Channels for Food and Beverage Manufacturers with Harvest ERP

August 22, 2023
By Harvest

Food and beverage manufacturers need to navigate a growing number of distribution methods to make sure their products make their way into consumers’ hands. This intricate web is collectively referred to as ‘sales channels.’

There are some challenges that are common across all channels, such as traceability and compliance that Harvest ERP’s robust compliance features help with, such as efficient management of ingredient decks, lot tracking, and recall information to comply with buyer requirements. However, there is no doubting that retail, foodservice, and e-commerce sales channels each present unique challenges that demand specialized solutions. With its expertise and robust technology, Harvest ERP addresses these multifaceted challenges, transforming complexity into efficiency, agility, and success.

Understanding how to calculate sales channel profitability is essential, but it’s not a simple task. Rather than relying on a static formula, it’s a model  that needs to consider fluctuating metrics. By evaluating and understanding these crucial aspects, you can navigate the multifaceted landscape of sales channel profitability.

With this in mind, let’s explore how Harvest ERP can be the comprehensive solution for managing and deciphering the challenges of sales channels, turning complex obstacles into opportunities for growth and success.

Retail Sales: Streamlining the Largest Channel

Retail sales constitute the largest and arguably the most complex sales channel, comprising of grocery, box, and convenience stores. In the United States alone, retail sales amounted to over eight trillion U.S. dollars in 2022, an increase of more than nine percent from the previous year.

While the challenges of selling through retail can be considerable, Harvest ERP has tools and solutions to tackle them efficiently:

  • Distribution Strategies: Whether you’re shipping directly to the Retailer’s Distribution Center (DC), through a third-party logistics provider (3PL), or using Direct Store Delivery, Harvest ERP helps you understand cost structures and choose the most viable method for your business.
  • Promotional Activity Management: It’s not just about getting your products onto the shelves. The volatility of promotional activities demands careful planning for volume increases to avoid stock-outs. Planning for volume increases while minimizing out-of-stocks is essential. Harvest ERP’s tools allow for effective planning and execution of promotional activities.
  • Inventory & Forecasting: From finished goods inventory to raw materials and labor, Harvest ERP simplifies the forecasting process.
  • Scan-Based Trading (SBT): Demanded by certain retailers, SBT requires tools for inventory reconciliation, pricing sync, loss, and consignment sales. Harvest Food Solutions offers tools for all of these and allows catering to specific retailer requirements.

Foodservice: A Demanding Sales Channel

Foodservice is another demanding sales channel that covers restaurants, schools, and institutions, and foodservice distributors who operate at a local or national level. While food service place sales in the U.S. have surpassed pre-pandemic levels, the trifecta of higher food costs, labor costs, and energy/utility costs are now a significant challenge for a majority of operations. A vast majority (92 percent) of restaurant operators surveyed say food costs are a significant challenge, and 89 percent said labor costs are a significant challenge.

Harvest helps foodservice businesses with:

  • Trade Promotions Management: Trade promotion expenditures are among the most intricate tasks a foodservice organization undertakes. They must oversee their trade investments across numerous distributors, purchasing collectives, and operators to address claims and deductions, ensuring their business remains on course. Harvest ERP’s solutions validate if promotions are effective and provide actionable insights into whether trade spend is resulting in increased unit sales, even when using third-party distributors.
  • Inventory Visibility: With short order lead times and multiple distribution centers, inventory management can be daunting. Harvest ERP offers real-time visibility into inventory locations, helping to plan better and manage demand for specialty items with short order lead times.
  • Traceability & EDI Management: From lot traceability in case of recalls to managing EDI for orders, pricing, and invoicing, Harvest ERP helps simplify these processes.

E-Commerce: A New Frontier

The e-commerce sales channel brings its own set of challenges, from getting the product out the door to managing shipping integrations with platforms like Shopify or Amazon. Packaging optimization, inventory management, and lot traceability are other complex tasks in this digital channel. While physical stores continue to dominate edible grocery sales, the digital segment is expected to experience significant growth in the coming years, building on the already substantial growth experienced during the pandemic. More and more Americans are turning to online channels to fulfill their grocery needs, with online sales projected to account for 13.5 percent of the total grocery market in 2023.

With this growth, e-commerce challenges can also be expected to increase:

  • Shipping Integration: Whether using platforms like Shopify or distributing through Amazon, integration is key. Harvest ERP aids in seamless shipping integration.
  • Packaging & Kitting: Optimizing shipping box sizes and managing different product combinations requires careful planning, and Harvest ERP’s tools help in this optimization.
  • Inventory & Traceability: As is the case for all sales channels, traceability is vital for e-commerce. Managing and tracking lots as they flow through inventory, shipping and delivery is not an easy task. Harvest ERP’s tools ensure efficient inventory management and vital traceability to help combat fluctuations in sales, shipping, and delivery cadence.

Harvest ERP: Your Partner in Success

Whether you are selling to retail, foodservice, e-commerce, or any combination of these sales channels, you need a deep understanding and a tailored approach for each sales channel. Harvest Food Solutions has the knowledge and experience from decades in the food business and has integrated the solutions your food and beverage manufacturing business needs into Harvest ERP. Get the visibility needed to make informed business decisions in fast-paced sales environments with the tools necessary to manage these complex sales environments efficiently.

Harvest ERP is more than just software; it’s a partner in your success, constantly evolving to meet the changing landscape of retail. Let us guide you through the complexities of the food and beverage industry, ensuring that your products reach consumers with efficiency, compliance, and innovation.

Contact us today to discover how Harvest ERP can transform your business operations and set you on the path to success.

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