How Data-Driven Is Your Supply Chain?
4 Min Read By Angela Fernandez
Food safety. Consumer transparency. Real time visibility. These words are often discussed in the restaurant industry but there remains much work to be done to align the foodservice supply chain with the demands of today’s guest.
Educated and motivated consumers want to spend their hard-earned dollar at restaurants that they can trust. This trust erodes when information is limited or incomplete for consumers – both in the restaurant and online. According to a survey by Technomic, 56 percent of consumers that research foodservice brands have stopped visiting a location for a host of reasons —negative news reports, unclear sourcing and a lack of information about ingredients are just some of the factors that have caused them to turn away.
Educated and motivated consumers want to spend their hard-earned dollar at restaurants that they can trust.
The expert innovator Richard Branson once said “It’s only by being bold that you get anywhere.” It’s time for the foodservice industry to make bold moves to secure future consumer loyalty. To start, these forward-thinking companies can modernize and automate existing manual supply chain processes using one common business language. Instead of working within data silos, establishing consistent formats for data to be shared through GS1 Standards can enable a real-time view of products in the supply chain. This works to more effectively trace food items with accuracy back to their sources in the event of a withdrawal, and make product details more transparent to satisfy the curiosity of information-hungry consumers.
Recently, two leading foodservice companies—the Quality Supply Chain Cooperative (QSCC, the supply chain organization of Wendy’s) and Ecolab—shared their experiences using GS1 Standards and how it contributed to their ability to share quality data more efficiently.
As leaders of the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative, they are collaborating with other leading companies to help move the entire foodservice industry forward through standardization. Let’s look at how they have set up their back-end systems for improved supply chain visibility and transparency.
Capturing More Traceability Information to Serve Wendy’s Guests
For restaurants prioritizing food traceability, it is important to look holistically at the food supply chain and how each supply chain partner interacts with data. Is each system set up to capture and communicate data efficiently with that of their partners? Through the implementation of GS1 Standards, foodservice operators like QSCC can answer “yes” to this question.
This trust erodes when information is limited or incomplete for consumers – both in the restaurant and online.
QSCC’s Eddie Phillips, senior vice president of information systems, believes traceability is essential to delivering on consumer expectations of quality and safety. Over the past several years, the company has adopted the use of a specialized barcode, the GS1-128, for product cases, which can be encoded with key details that are important to guaranteeing freshness, such as the lot the product came from, or the batch it was harvested in, as well as expiration dates.
“As an operator, it is imperative to the Wendy’s brand that we keep our consumers safe. Scanning the GS1-128 barcodes on product cases at restaurant delivery gives us the enhanced traceability we need during a withdrawal event. With visibility to batch/lot information in the scanned GS1-128 barcode, we can now target the specific restaurants impacted by a withdrawal, eliminate excessive product waste in non-impacted restaurants, and ensure the safety of our consumers.”
Speeding up the time it takes to recover from a product recall or withdrawal is key to maintaining consumer loyalty. FoodLogiQ’s recent survey found 50 percent of consumers believe that one-to-two days is an acceptable amount of time for a food company to fully address a foodborne illness outbreak. It’s also not even guaranteed a customer will return after an outbreak—35 percent said they would avoid the company for a few months and “maybe return,” while only 27 percent said “I’ll return as soon as it’s resolved.” Another 23 percent would never visit again, and 15 percent said they would switch to a competitor for a while.
EcoLab Cleans Up Data
Don’t forget that foodservice is not just about food – the consumer expectation of transparency and quality extends to include non-food items too. Imagine if a restaurant runs out of cleaning solutions needed to keep their facility and food prep surfaces safe. Disruption here can have the same kind of impact as a non-delivery of a key ingredient to a critical menu item. For Ecolab, a leading supplier of cleaning solutions, establishing more effective protocols for product data management helped them strengthen customer relationships and eliminate time-consuming manual data entry.
Forward-thinking companies can modernize and automate existing manual supply chain processes using one common business language.
Ecolab is implementing a product information management (PIM) system, which will create one source of product information and images feeding a multitude of purposes including the enhanced ability to market products and gain a competitive advantage. Ecolab now continuously shares product information based on GS1 Standards in a more consistent, repeatable format and has consolidated dozens of data repositories to ensure greater accuracy and efficiency.
Ecolab’s Steve Werden, vice president, distributor sales, explained the results of their GS1 Standards implementation: “We have increased our overall product data quality by 68 percent from 2017 to 2018, and we have seen a 19.01 percent decrease in data errors. Most importantly, we have won a large account as a result of our ability to share product data based on GS1 Standards.”
Now is the time for foodservice companies to learn from industry adopters. Ultimately, it’s the back-end systems that power the wow moments with consumers that take place at the front-of-the house. By leveraging open global standards, restaurants can become more data-driven and align supply chain practices with high consumer expectations for food quality and information access.