Are Food Distributors Missing Out on the Advantages of AI?

Blog Series on Foodservice DistributionPart 2: Transform Your Order Takers into Sales Consultants

Part 1 of this series presented our view on what foodservice distributors should be working toward in their pricing strategies—specifically, the use of their data and AI to optimize prices to increase sales and margins while personalizing prices for customers.

We suggest that the next logical step for foodservice distributors is building customer relationships. If you could relieve your sales reps of what they spend a majority of their time doing—calculating prices to keep their customers’ happy while simultaneously meeting their numbers—what would they do with their newly found time? They would be free to become consultants rather than primarily order-takers with their customers.

The pandemic directly proved this high value-add form of customer service. When COVID-19 first took hold and the supply chain stuttered, restaurant owners, schools, nursing homes etc. were on the phone to their sales reps asking for the inside scoop: “How long will it take to get my salmon? What products are available now? How long will this last?” Customers wanted to talk to someone they knew and trusted—not go online and click around to see what was available that day. The uncertainty was palpable.

Even in non-pandemic times, foodservice operators prefer to work with their account rep to get the pricing they need, to request change orders, and even to ask for suitable substitutes when something is unavailable. Foodservice distributors have known for a long time that they could increase sales if their salespeople had the time and experience to help customers build their own business by suggesting menus and complementary or trending products. They have looked for ways to get sales reps to move to “consultative selling.” AI-driven pricing offers a way to get there–by redefining how time is spent with customers. By allowing sales reps the time to offer a wider range of services to help their existing customers grow their business profitably, distributors can create more value and loyalty. This will be important as marketplaces become popular in coming years and distributors will have to offer more services to retain customers.

Applying AI to the data sources that foodservice distributors already capture allows for automating and optimizing product pricing. And it enables salesforces to accelerate their journey from order takers to sales consultants.

The price recommendations from A2Go’s Price-Right AI solution have been proven to be reliable and beneficial to both sales and margins. The additional benefit is that product prices are automated and delivered daily, keeping up with ever-evolving customer preferences.

The application of AI-driven solutions to critical business issues like pricing optimization is a perfect example of where AI and human touch combine to bring the most value to boost margins and improve customer experience. Foodservice distributors can benefit from AI-driven price optimization with Price-Right AI and the increased focus on consultative selling of their salesforces to improve sales and margins. It’s a win-win for all.

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We set our goal to make it possible for businesses to use data to optimize recurring, mission-critical decisions in real time and at the point of use – by sales teams, pricing teams and supply chain management teams.

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