Address the demands for Traceability & Shelf-life in the Food & Beverage Industry

In food warehouses, it’s essential to move quickly, or things can start to go bad… literally. Challenges like Zoning and Cross-docking (that we covered in part 1 of this blog series) added to the need for farm-to-fork traceability and close management of shelf lives only adds to the already demanding requirements of warehousing and distribution in today’s food industry.

Challenge 3: Traceability

Full traceability is key from a food safety perspective. In the event of a recall, companies need to be able to quickly locate what products are contaminated and where they were sent. Then you also need to quickly identify the various ingredients to determine how/where the contamination occurred – and stop it in its tracks.

We recognise you often have to deal with various different quality systems, including when and how products leave the warehouse, often through third party logistics (3PL) companies. If this process isn’t integrated with your business systems, checks can be missed and traceability for items once they leave the warehouse becomes an uphill battle and in event of an emergency it causes additional, unnecessary downtime and panic.

Food manufacturers produce in high volume and have rapid inventory turnover, making it virtually impossible to track information by paper. Traditionally, businesses have kept paper invoices and shipping documents that could take days or weeks to sort through during a recall. However, in today’s just-in-time supply chain, a company is expected to take action within hours when food safety is at stake.

With a food industry ERP system in place, information about raw ingredients and finished products is collected into a single database. In the event of a recall you will be able to react more effectively and keep any damage to a minimum.

Simply put, manual data entry from paper usually results in error rates that are too high for reliable traceability. Automated data collection tools are designed to help employees quickly capture the data needed. They walk employees through each step of the process for in-house materials transfers, intra-plant transfers, putting away finished products, picking products for shipment and creating shipments.

Using wireless and mobile devices/barcode scanning devices in the warehouse, also means information about lot numbers is captured in seconds and transferred automatically to your core ERP solution.

In an industry plagued with product recalls, a food production firm needs to be able to demonstrate that it can track its product and the ingredients therein both upstream and downstream – from raw ingredients to the finished goods and vice versa. To do this, data from every point in the supply chain must be recorded to provide an audit trail. This is why many food and beverage firms choose to implement specialist ERP system, like Dynamics Food, to provide a centralised system to manage all this data.

Challenge 4: Shelf-life

In the supply of perishable food products, large losses can be incurred between farm and fork if shelf life is not correctly tracked.

Further complications are added with different retailers accepting different minimum number of days remaining until the “display by” or “use by” date.

Huge value can be added by optimising your warehouse management, by taking into account the remaining shelf life of a product, and matching it to the requirements of the subsequent part of the handling chain.

With system-directed picks/put-aways from ERP, supported with integrated handheld devices, you can ensure the products with the earliest used-by dates are selected for dispatch to the right retailers to prevent spoiled stock. The routing for multiple picks can also be optimised – saving time and reducing wear and tear on your equipment and your teams!

And it’s not just about how much space you have in the warehouse that can make shelf-life difficult to manage; it’s about optimising the space to avoid unnecessary labour. Keeping fast-moving and short use-by inventory near the front of the facility so truck-lift drivers aren’t constantly traveling to the farthest reaches of the warehouse is just one solution that can help radically optimise the warehouse.

Visibility and accuracy mean less work, and more profit.

Information is power, so having a ERP/business software solution specifically developed for the needs of food processors and distributors is fundamental to maximising warehouse efficiency, minimising stock and boosting order and shipment accuracy.

Having ERP in place will help you manage every step of the manufacturing and supply process: from order processing to ingredients/goods in through to final delivery to store/RDC (regional delivery centre).

Much like consumers who purchase food several times a week to provision themselves for meals that they eat several times a day, food and beverage manufacturers must maintain and turn over their inventory more quickly and frequently than other warehouses.

Be prepared to fulfil demands quickly and easily from the start of your manufacturing process right through to goods out with integrated ERP for the food industry such as Dynamics Food.

Attend our complimentary briefing: Boost performance with a single business software solution with Dynamics Food on either Tuesday 20th March from 10:00am-12:30pm in Wolverhampton, or alternatively Wednesday 9th May from 10:00am-12:30pm at Microsoft London.

Tackle the challenges of Zoning and Cross-docking in the Food & Beverage Industry

In food warehouses, it’s essential to move quickly, or things can start to go bad… literally.

Getting product through the supply chain accurately and safely is crucial – or you will be haemorrhaging cash before products even leave the warehouse.

It’s more important than ever before to have sophisticated warehouse management in place to help regulate food safety, prevent cross-contamination and to manage shelf life and traceability.

In this two part blog series, we wanted to examine how companies can go the extra mile in Warehouse Management in the Food & Beverage Industry. If you want to learn more about the demands of Traceability and Shelf-life in the Food & Beverage sector make sure that you read Part 2 of our blog series. 

An end-to-end ERP business application, like Dynamics Food, can help manage every step products take through the warehouse and alleviate the many issues food manufacturers face in the warehouse…

Challenge 1: Zoning

Allergens and non-allergens, and even “smelly” products like fish and cheese, need to be kept apart to prevent cross-contamination.

This isn’t always the easiest thing to plan for in a warehouse, especially for food manufacturers where you could be storing a host of different produce at any one time.

Therefore, your warehouse needs to implement strict zones and procedures to control allergens in your storage facilities and make it easy for your team to stock the warehouse. Optimised bays, clear labelling and directed put-away sequences, automatically generated from your ERP system and provided directly to handheld devices, means products can be scanned and put-away quickly and safely.

Challenge 2: Cross-docking

If you are a food distributor, importer or exporter, you may receive perishable goods into the warehouse which need to be shipped, or part-shipped, straight back out of the door to retailers.

On one hand, this is great as it means that you don’t have to put away products to be picked again later, the customer will get the produce faster and there is minimal requirement for warehouse space.

However, this is does mean that you need to have “look ahead windows” i.e. visibility of what products, and when, need to be shipped back out again so you can control where products land in the warehouse to allow fast quality checks and ensure the least possible manual intervention.

An ERP system designed for the food industry can help you co-ordinate all the warehouse movements for inbound products from different vendors into a mixed pallet, which can then be delivered to the customer once the final item is received – and all in the most efficient way possible!

Attend our complimentary briefing: Boost performance with a single business software solution with Dynamics Food on either Tuesday 20th March from 10:00am-12:30pm in Wolverhampton, or alternatively Wednesday 9th May from 10:00am-12:30pm at Microsoft London. 

Streamline your sales process by managing Cases in one system

You will be excited to learn that we have released a brand new Dynamics Addition – Sales Documents, which will help to streamline your sales process when managing Cases. The Addition will also enhance your customers experience, with faster response times due to more reliable data. 

If you're a user of Microsoft Dynamics software, you will be aware that there is a standard connector available which can integrate Dynamics 365 / CRM and Dynamics NAV. The connector is purely focused on the sales process, and works on the basis that you can create a Lead, Opportunity, Quote and Order in CRM and then submit that order directly into Dynamics NAV. However, we’ve found that there are some limitations with creating quotes and orders within Dynamics 365 / CRM, these include:

  • Dynamics 365 / CRM does not include stock availability or stock locations, so if you create an order and there’s no stock you don’t get any warnings. In turn, you risk disappointing the customer which can leave a very bad impression, especially if they are a brand new customer to the business
  • Dynamics 365 / CRM doesn’t handle the financials for a customer. For example, if a customer is over their credit limit there are no credit warnings, which places the business under a great level of risk 
  • Pricing in Dynamics 365 / CRM isn’t quite as sophisticated as Dynamics NAV. If you have complex pricing structures, promotions or customer specific pricing, it requires a considerable amount of effort to make these work within Dynamics 365 / CRM

Furthermore, the standard connector doesn’t particularly support the customer service process at all. The customer service function generally tends to be managed in Dynamics 365 / CRM using Cases. To summarise, Cases are there to log problems, questions and requests. A company can then analyse the Cases that have been raised, to look for trends or patterns and address the root causes to improve the overall customer experience.

Particular Cases may require a sales return order (SRO) or a replacement sales order (SO) to be created within Dynamics NAV. However, the standard integration between Dynamics 365 / CRM and Dynamics NAV doesn’t support the creation of SRO's/SO's directly from Cases. This can cause a degree of frustration for customer service staff because it means they have to log-in to a separate system, find the customer details, raise the SRO/SO, probably copy the SRO/SO number and maybe send some notes back across to Dynamics 365 / CRM. Because that process requires a lot of effort, certain steps may get missed or forgotten which could leave a negative impact on the overall customer experience.

Dynamics Additions Sales Documents

1. Streamline sales process – By going from Lead to Order within one system

  • The Sales Documents Addition allows you to create Dynamics NAV Quotes and Orders directly from an Account or Opportunity record in Dynamics 365 / CRM. This means you harness the strengths of Dynamics NAV in terms of item availability, stock out warnings, credit limit warnings and complex pricing structures. Additionally, it saves you from having to switch between systems to find bits of information and reduces the likelihood of errors being made or customers being disappointed
  • When the document is created in Dynamics NAV, it automatically writes some information back to Dynamics 365 / CRM, such as: date created, document number and amount which can then be used to trigger workflows in Dynamics 365 / CRM, when required to create Tasks for sales representative to follow up on quotes or first orders

2. Improve customer experience

  • The Sales Documents Addition allows you to create Dynamics NAV SROs and SOs directly from within a Case record and also writes some of the information automatically back to Dynamics 365 / CRM, such as: date created, document number and amount. Once that data is written back to Dynamics 365 / CRM, you can then take advantage of the workflow tool in Dynamics 365 / CRM which can send out automatic updates to customers or generate Tasks to remind customer service staff to follow up with customers in (x) number of days

Benefits

  • Increased employee satisfaction because they have better access to critical real-time information and can access this information at the touch of a button
  • Cost savings because productivity is enhanced through the streamlining and automation of processes
  • Improved customer satisfaction because it frees up employees time to focus on high value interactions with customers rather than carrying out administrative tasks
  • Consistency and reliability – leaves less room for error or things being forgotten about

See it in action

If you are interested in learning more about our Dynamics Additions Sales Documents solution for Dynamics NAV & Dynamics 365 / CRM, make sure that you get in touch with us today via Contact Us

Track every change made on Sales Orders in Microsoft Dynamics NAV – and save the history

Every wondered the value of orders you’ve had today and tried to report on that from Dynamics NAV? How do you track the orders you ship & invoice on the same day? How do you include a change in value where previously placed orders are amended or even cancelled?

Dynamics Additions Sales Input Log can keep track and control of the change to value and quantity made on every sales document (orders, invoices, credits & returns) made in Dynamics NAV between two specified times – down to the second.

Use this Dynamics Addition for Microsoft Dynamics NAV to know who is responsible for each entry, change or deletion and be able to dashboard each salesperson's performance to the second.

Then share knowledge of spikes or dips in demand as soon as transactions are entered, enabling you to better react to maximise your market share.

Watch our video to see how it works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGzWsBxl-d4

Struggling to keep track of promotions or rebates?

Simple management of pricing & promotions – from admin through to sales in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry.

Having the right pricing mechanism to drive sales can always be a dilemma in the workplace. How can you make this a simple enough process for your admin staff to execute, whilst at the same time giving your sales team the flexibility to be able to respond to market demand?

Using Dynamics CPG, with its pricing designed for dealing with independents through to major retailers, allows you to do just this. It means depending on individual customers, you can tailor-make their pricing to suit them best. It doesn’t have to be just one way and one way only.

Flexibility to handle any type of promotion – be it customer specific or across the board

Dynamics CPG pricing functionality delivers a fast solution for all your pricing needs. This can help with all the promotional mechanics that you can normally think of e.g. buy one get one free, discounted items and even rebates. This functionality enables you to create single or multiple-use promotion codes with value or time-based expiry to suit the needs of an individual customer.

Your staff can understand what it means for margin and execute orders right there in front of the customer. It doesn’t matter how the customer chooses to order, straight away they can tell how much they are going to get charged and also what the price would be if they ordered a higher quantity to drive them up to that next price break.

Opening new accounts with tempting offers – accessing new markets

Alternatively, you can use Dynamics CPG to open those precious new accounts, to exploit your competition or get new products into existing accounts by using a purchase discount; enabling the customer to try out your product(s) at minimal cost. It’s about making your company stand out from the crowd with a quick and simple solution.

Company-wide visibility & automatic promotions & pricing – saving time & admin

Using Dynamics CPG it means that all the pricing updates are automatic, your staff won’t need to remember, which means no time is wasted. Your staff don’t have to look up Excel spreadsheets or refer to notebooks to pull out that information. All you need to do is put the order on Dynamics CPG as normal, and if the rules for that promotion are there it will automatically apply it.

This will help keep your customers happy, your staff will have done no more work, and you’ve got the flexibility to be able to drive the market as you need to.

Seems too good to be true? Why don’t you take a look for yourself…?

For more information on pricing designed for supplying through the retail sector watch our video

When your customers work late, who’s there to take the order?

We all aim to use sophisticated technology, try to remain flexible and responsive, source the best components – but parts of the B2B industry are still missing a trick…

In a world where business practices are only getting more complex and your customers expect 24/7 service, now is the time to make managing changing customer behaviours simpler – for you and them.

Enable your customers to place orders in their own time. Online sales are cost effective, practically self-managing and will save your sales team a lot of stress. And if we are to learn from the omni-channel selling of the B2C community, upgrading your online presence today to serve more of your customers’ needs will pay off almost immediately.

Just one system has to take the lead in your eCommerce journey, and that’s your ERP. With Microsoft Dynamics NAV in place, you have the operational efficiency to excel with online sales. It’s just one small step to eCommerce and all its potential business benefits.

Our eCommerce solution is built specifically for Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Seamlessly linking your stock, product, discounts, promotions, and customer information for real-time integration between Dynamics NAV and your online store. Dynamics Additions eCommerce is your short cut to increased revenue and reduced administration.

Online access can transform B2B commerce. Your customers will see you as more responsive, get access to your products from wherever they are and be able to carry on their working day without the bottom-line impact on yours.

And remember, happy customers are far more likely to remain customers. In fact, its reported time and time again that customer satisfaction directly impacts business bottom line for the better. Therefore, making all of your systems easy and accessible for every type of customer can only be a good thing.

To find out more watch these quick videos, or visit www.tecman.co.uk/eCommerce

Turn Customer Disappointment into Customer Delight with Microsoft Dynamics: Part 3 – Resolve

Having captured the complaint, routed it to the best person to deal with it and identified the cause of the issue, it’s time to look at how best to resolve the complaint. 

Empower Your Employees to Own the Customer Experience

When a customer’s complaint is dealt with and resolved quickly, it instils confidence and trust which can often lead to them becoming more loyal to your organisation. 

Your front line staff tend to be the first to know about problems and are also in the best position to determine what can be done to satisfy the customer.  That means it’s important for them to be able to handle any type of situation which involves interacting with a customer confidently and efficiently. 

To do this they need to have access to the right knowledge and information to empower them to solve problems quickly and make decisions that will be in the best interest of both your customers and your organisation; a win-win resolution. 

How Microsoft Dynamics Can Help

One of the great features of CRM is the ability to customise forms and views to display key information about your customers.  So, in the example shown below you can see that a single screen tells me straight away that this is:

  • A priority customer
  • They’ve been trading with us for a long time
  • Their level of spend with us is significant
  • They haven’t registered that many complaints with us recently
  • We are working on a £100,000 sales opportunity with them

Resolve 1

Giving front line staff visibility of this information creates context for them i.e. they see the bigger picture of what that customer means to our organisation rather than just dealing with the complaint as an isolated incident.  It means that when it’s time to make a judgement call on how to resolve the customer’s complaint we are giving them all the relevant information and empowering them to own the customer experience by:

  • Solving problems quickly
  • Delighting customers
  • Making decisions that are aligned with the organisational strategy

CRM also has a knowledge base feature which can be hugely effective in helping to answer customer questions and resolve issues quickly.  The knowledge base allows you to store information such as FAQs, product manuals, installation instructions, how to videos etc.  Staff can also email articles directly from the knowledge base to customers.

In the example below you can see that, within the Case, we have clicked on KB records and CRM has searched the knowledge base displaying all articles that may help us resolve the issue.

Resolve 2

If an article helps to resolve an issue, the staff member has the option to link that article to the case to help their colleagues resolve any similar issues that may crop up in future.  From there you can then start to keep track of how many issues have been resolved with solutions from the knowledge base but also issues that could not be resolved using the knowledge base allowing you to understand where you may need to build your organisational knowledge further. 

 

Benefits to Your Organisation

Using the information and knowledge sharing functionality within CRM can help to:

  • Improve efficiency and productivity leading to reduced costs
  • Improve communication both internally and externally
  • Increase customer trust and loyalty leading to growth and increased profitability
  • Encourage collaboration, creativity and innovation
  • Gain and sustain a competitive advantage
  • Increase employee satisfaction and engagement leading to even higher levels of service
  • Manage risk because they help to prevent any single points of failure

 For more insights into the Microsoft Dynamics CRM suite, soon to be part of Dynamics 365, visit www.tecman.co.uk/Microsoft-Dynamics-CRM-2016

On-demand account information for your customers

Your finance team will spend a lot of their time, probably more than they would care to admit, dealing with simple customer questions about account information. From outstanding invoices and orders to returns – this isn’t a great use of time for either your staff or your customers.

Give yourselves a break!

Save your customer from having to call or email and keep your staff focused on their day to day tasks by using our simple solution, My Account Portal. Born as part of our Dynamics Additions range, the portal is simple – it gives the power back to your customer.

Customers can log in using their unique login information and see instantly, anytime, their account balances, processing orders and credit notes.  They can even request returns, query an invoice and make online payments…

The flexibility for you and your customers from this Dynamics Addition can genuinely help to take some of the strain off your shoulders. My Account Portal can free up time to focus on your business objectives, whilst increasing customer satisfaction by sharing the tools customers need to work with you more effectively.

Fancy seeing it in action? Pop on to YouTube and watch it step by step…

http://bit.ly/2fhUUez