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Food manufacturers urged to embrace digital for supply chain independence

16 June 2015

Food manufacturers can gain greater control over their supply chains and no longer be so reliant on supermarkets for profit if they embrace the eCommerce world and optimise their back office and front-of-house business solutions.

That’s the message from international consultancy Columbus, at a time when a number of food manufacturing firms are moving away from the big four supermarkets in the UK and considering other routes to market for their products. But Columbus insists that retailers are still an integral part of the food supply chain, and many food manufacturers need to be supplementing the work they already do with major retailers, with a fully encompassing Omnichannel strategy. 

Mary Hunter, Managing Director of Columbus explained: “If you look at some of the more successful food manufacturing businesses, many of these supply goods to major retail stores and wholesalers as well as direct to consumers through eCommerce, webstores and distributors. During an age where consumerism is changing at a rapid pace and customers are demanding instant access to products, food manufacturers are missing a market channel and extra revenue if they are not embracing digital opportunities.” 

Columbus is one of a limited number of consultancies in the marketplace capable of providing both a comprehensive Enterprise Resource Planning Solution (ERP) solution tailored to the individual needs of food manufacturing businesses, as well as an end-to-end Omnichannel retail solution.  The company’s advice follows Rabobank’s most recent report on the food processing industry which declared food manufacturers are unprepared for the digital revolution. With the World Retail Congress revealing that supermarkets are already increasing sales by up to 20% through integrating their online and store sales in an Omnichannel strategy, Columbus states that grocers and food processors in particular, ought to be considering doing the same. 

Mary Hunter continued: “If food manufacturing businesses can get their IT infrastructure right, and optimise their back end systems with intelligent, integrated front-of-house and webstore solutions, there’s no reason why they can’t exercise greater control over their supply chains and supplement the profit they make from supermarkets by distributing their products through other channels. 

“Omnichannel strategies that do encompass digital have no limitations on shelf space, reduced barriers to listing and delisting products, and very low capital expenditure requirements. Those businesses that fail to embrace digital channels in their Omnichannel strategy risk being pushed to the back of the e-shelf. It’s not about whether you should work with major retailers or not, but more about bringing multiple channels together for real supply chain independence.”


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