Pivoting to E-Commerce: Food Sales in Pandemic Times

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We have dozens of conversations with food processors & manufacturers every month, and as with all facets of life during this time, COVID-19 is always a topic of conversation. The good news? In our essential industry, most businesses have remained stable, or even seen huge growth in the past 14-months. But, no one has made it through this pandemic without battling entirely new struggles. So, what is the resounding challenge many food manufacturers have in common during COVID-19 times? Successfully taking their existing production, and pivoting to e-commerce while maintaining a streamlined process, accurate inventory counts, and the ability to mock recall. And it’s not just the restaurant distributors who have faced this challenge. The pandemic has affected both the supply chain and the methods in which people prefer to shop for their food, leading to this shift across the entire industry. In fact, it as much as 15-20% of food sales in 2021 are predicted to happen online, and nearly doubled in the early months of the pandemic.

When you pivot from shipping out full pallets & cases to wholesalers, to individual items, often bundled together for one eCommerce shipment, friction is inevitable. Over the past several months of conversing with food manufacturers and writing our own code to account for this change, we’ve developed these tips for an easy and streamlined experience when pivoting to e-commerce:

Choose an eCommerce platform that integrates seamlessly with your ERP

-Integrations eliminate double-keying, saving you time and eliminating errors

-Other systems can integrate with your ERP to pull data from the eCommerce platform. For example, ParityFactory pulls Purchase Orders & Sales Orders in from your ERP. If your eCommerce platform creates Sales Orders in your ERP, you have a fully integrated end to end system.

Implement a tracing process that is efficient 

-We’ve found that lot tracing eCommerce shipments by day instead of shipment is a less cumbersome method that still meets regulations

Transfer inventory you’ll use for eCommerce sales to another location – virtual, physical, or both

-Whether this is in an excel spreadsheet, virtual location in ParityFactory, or physical location in your warehouse, keeping this inventory separate will help you stay organized and ease your mock recalls.

Adopt a system that provides real-time inventory

When you’re dealing with many small shipments, it becomes even more crucial to be aware of what you have at all times. Keeping your customers informed of what’s in stock prevents product from going to waste—or worse—product that doesn’t exist being sold. By implementing an inventory control system that provides real-time information on your stock, you can make sure you always have enough to meet your customer’s needs.

ParityFactory makes these best practices possible for our clients by building tools within our inventory management software to streamline eCommerce sales. Reach out if you’re interested, and our team will show you how our WMS solves these, and many other challenges.

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