Magazine Article | January 1, 2006

DSD Goes Mobile

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Mobile printing upgrades and streamlines today’s DSD (direct store delivery) processes.

Integrated Solutions, January 2006

The choice to upgrade technology is never an easy one, especially when the equipment and processes currently in place seem to get the job done. But improvements in mobile technology solutions have led to DSD advances that are hard to ignore. Traditionally, DSD, the delivery process of goods to retail stores, has been paper-centric. Drivers used paper order slips and dropped off multipart invoices when making deliveries. At the end of drivers’ shifts, each document was individually processed in the back office. While far from flawless, the system has always worked.

But simply being ‘good enough’ has never stood up to the vast changes brought about by innovative technology. The advantages of mobile computing, wireless accounting, and printing technologies have quickly changed the paradigm of how food and beverage delivery companies do business.

To fully understand the far-reaching benefits of high-tech DSD, let’s follow a driver using wireless, mobile devices. In the morning, the driver enters the warehouse and, using a mobile computer, wirelessly logs onto a corporate delivery system. The day’s route is downloaded, and inventory and pricing information is automatically updated. This process takes no more than 5 minutes – much less than the time-consuming process of old.

Once the driver reaches a customer’s site, he delivers his order and makes any updates in the mobile delivery program based on returns or additions to the order. After the driver has talked with the customer, an invoice or any other paperwork can be printed on a mobile wireless printer mounted right in his truck cab via Bluetooth wireless technology. The time saved from working with handbills and writing out invoices can now be spent talking with the customer about current and future promotions and gauging interest in other products. Instead of downtime, the driver makes room for sales time.

At the end of his day, the driver returns to the warehouse and, just as he did in the morning, wirelessly uploads all of the route data accumulated throughout the day. The central distribution control software can begin tabulating route and order adjustments and automatically make updates for the following day.

The system is seamless. And the interconnectivity of DSD technologies between systems offers operators three distinct advantages:

  • Cost Reduction: Using wireless handheld devices, drivers can quickly confirm or modify delivery and invoicing information. Once changes have been made, they can turn to their mobile printer and wirelessly transfer and print the invoice. Adjustments to price or orders are automatically sent to back to the office, dramatically saving time normally spent doing tabulation.
  • Productivity: With wireless DSD technology, efficiency is the name of the game. Real-time invoicing improves cash flow. Route management is improved, allowing drivers to spend more sales time with customers. And errors that are so common in paper-dependent systems because of sloppy handwriting or miscalculation are eradicated because of wireless accounting and instant invoice and bill processing and printing.
  • Quality Improvement: Handhelds and wireless printers reduce the chance of invoice error exponentially compared with traditional accounting methods. Product authorization is also greatly improved because customers can look at their buying trends and make on-the-spot buying decisions week to week, month to month, or year to year.

With such clear advantages over traditional DSD methods, it is only a matter of time before retail suppliers, large and small, transition to high-tech DSD equipment like handheld computers, route accounting software, and wireless printers. The DSD market is expected to grow by 15% annually over the next three years. The digital age is upon us and all trends indicate that wireless technology will be the choice of successful DSD companies that want to increase their sales force and delivery efficiency.