Today’s consumers are amping up the pressure


Growing expectations force food manufacturers to be(come) more customer-centric

These days, food manufacturers must be consumer-obsessed if they want to have a competitive advantage. Roughly speaking, this means two things. First, to know what the consumer is thinking and expecting, at all times. Second, to be able to meet those expectations, efficiently, compliantly, at healthy margins and above all: faster than the competition.

Consumers today are hard to please, pretty verbal and generally well-informed. They are used to being served on their terms too: if product A is not satisfactory, there’s for sure a product B or C that will fit the bill. Consumer loyalty in FMCG is under debate and rightly so: consumers are much less loyal than was commonly believed.

Forward-thinking food companies are investing a lot of time, energy and resources in a (more) customer-centric business model. But in order to become (more) customer-centric, they need the technological backbone to support such a model. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Food provides that backbone. The Dynamics-platform gives food companies the possibility to:

  • Almost literally keep the finger on the consumer’s pulse, in real time
  • Market a wide range of product variables, fast and at healthy margins

Smart Labels: postman between consumer and manufacturer

Consumers increasingly look for information on (the authenticity) of the products on the shelves. That goes way beyond ingredients, allergens and kcals. Where does the product come from, how was it processed, what’s the ecological footprint etc? Forward-thinking businesses work with this by means of Smart Label-technology. This enables consumers to scan a QR code and then watch a short clip of the boat where their fish was caught, or the farmer that grows their favorite coffee.

In that case, there’s a feedback loop from manufacturer to consumer. That loop was fed with data from deep within the supply chain – way back to the source, to be more precise. In order to be able to extract and share that kind of data, the manufacturer must be able to unlock the data flow behind that particular fish or package of coffee, from shelf to - in this case - boat or plantation. This can only be done by means of a system or platform that unifies the data in one single source (of truth) and easily connects different systems and applications across the supply chain.

Data can be sent from the consumer to the manufacturer as well. An example: an app that allows consumers to send feedback about a particular product straight to the manufacturer. The consumer scans the product’s Smart Label – this way the manufacturer knows which lot we’re talking about – and then sends in her or his feedback. This is a way of gathering data in other (i.e. more direct) ways than via panels. These feedback loops allow manufacturers to tweak their products so they match consumer requirements more closely.

Smart Labels are, at least in the Benelux, a still underused method of bridging the gap between consumer and manufacturer. And that’s a pity, because they are a prime example of a win-win situation: both manufacturer and consumer get the data they want, and are able to share data as well. Those data streams or feedback loops are the engine behind continuous improvement in the supply chain.

A ‘fast-to-market’ variable for each region, public holiday or trend? Check!

More and more product variables need to be marketed in less and less time. For today’s consumer, ‘one size fits all’ is mostly a thing of the past. Examples of customization in food include colors or taste combinations that are ‘not done’ in certain parts of the world, regional variables, products that tap into particular hypes or trends and so on. The list – and the variables – are endless.

This wide range of variables forces manufacturers to work project-based. In order to be able do so - and in a way which is both efficient and effective - they need accurate insight on many levels. The manufacturer must be able to estimate:

  • if he can comply with retail conditions, without a negative impact on margins
  • what those margins will be
  • if he still has overstock of older material that can be used (e.g. packaging)
  • if the ingredients he uses are legally complaint in the country he is selling the goods to
  • if he has all the required certificates to market the product succesfully (UTZ, Fair trade, RSPO, bio, organic, GMO free,…)

That degree of insight requires an integrated platform that can deal with complexity, and is able to combine a holistic view with an eye for the tiniest details. When it comes to product variables, differences are of crucial importance, even if they are barely noticeable (take the different ways in which lot codes must be printed, for instance). The bigger flow must be flawless, as well as the thousands of details in that flow.

Dynamics 365 for food: enabler of a customer-centric business model

In order to be(come more) customer centric, businesses need a totally integrated, powerful yet flexible platform. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Food is such a platform. The solution enables you to:

  • Almost literally keep your finger on the consumer’s pulse, in real time
  • Support a large and complex supply chain, with an eye for the tiniest details
  • Market a wide range of product variables, fast and at healthy margins
  • Extract data from deep within the chain: from field to fork

Have questions? Want to discuss? Don’t hesitate: send us a note via the contact form or give us a call. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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