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5 Mistakes Killing Your Food Distribution Margins and Profitability

Rianna Greenfield
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Table of Contents

As you’re well aware, even the best run operations have blindspots. In fact, the more successful your business, the more unlikely it is that you’ll uncover these mistakes (or even look for them). Thankfully, solving these problems and growing your business is easier than you think.

We have spoken with hundreds of customers and identified the following 5 themes that could be costing your company money:

1. Poor or outdated product and pricing information

One of the most frustrating aspects of placing orders for buyers tends to be the outdated supplier catalogs - especially when it comes to categories where product availability is seasonal and pricing can change on a daily basis.

Some of the other most common annoyances customers have with their suppliers’ catalogs include:

  • Unappealing or unrepresentative product photos
  • Lack of product descriptions, or poorly written ones
  • Outdated pricing information

These may seem like minor issues, but they will prevent customers from exploring new product lines or items, and limit your company’s growth potential. Not only that, but it creates unnecessary back and forth that is a frustrating waste of time for the buyer and the supplier rep.

2. Bad online and/or mobile experience

As food buyers become busier, now more than ever, they are relying on their mobile devices to browse supplier websites, view products, and make purchases.

Having a great mobile and online experience is so important, that in some cases buyers won't even consider doing business with a supplier who doesn’t offer a B2B eCommerce solution. How can you blame them? They simply don’t have the time to call the order desk and wait on hold or leave a voicemail when they could do all of that from their phone while standing in their walk-in.

3. No visibility into product lines

A supplier’s worst nightmare is a customer who continues to order the exact same products day in and day out. The problem is, the customer isn’t always to blame when this happens.

Suppliers often have hundreds, if not thousands, of products in their catalogs. Buyers are either unaware of most of the products, or simply have no easy way to search and browse the catalog. Just imagine how time-consuming it would be to thumb your way through a hundred page printed catalog!

In fact, many buyers admit that they would definitely consider ordering more products, and exploring new and different product lines, if only there was an easier way to discover relevant and interesting products through a digital catalog.

4. Less than great customer service

More and more buyers have become used to the experience provided by B2C sites such as Amazon, and are beginning to expect the same from their B2B relationships. A few of the features becoming standard for modern buyers include:

  • Access to order and shipping information
  • Organized and accessible order history
  • Easy returns and credits
  • Being able to talk to a sales or customer service rep using live chat on a website or mobile app

One of the best was to distinguish yourself in a crowded market is to deliver exceptional service. However, that’s a lot easier said than done.

5. Lack of analytics

Do you know if your customers are ordering with the same frequency they always have? What about order sizes? Or, customers who’ve stopped ordering all together? It takes a lot of different metrics to measure the health of your customer base, the performance of your sales reps, and the overall success of your business.

Are you measuring the right things and are you using them to reward the right behaviors and course correct when necessary?