27 July 2020
sector logistics in the pandemic era
Lockdown has been a
testing time for the UK food sector, and also a period of extraordinary demand.
From May to July, sales of groceries were up nearly 17percent, with most of
that coming from online services and local shops. The way we shop for food has
shifted in response to lockdown; many consumers have cut the number of times they visit asupermarket during the
week in favour of a larger, planned ‘bulk buying’ approach, often online.
That’s when they can get an online delivery or pick up slot though – demand for
online food deliveries has skyrocketed too.
All told, lockdown has
been a sort of boomtime for food distribution, but one that’s made logistically
gruelling by a global pandemic. The pressure to expediate supply chains in the
face of a never-before-seen public health emergency has been nothing short of
Has there ever been a
greater need for digital support and optimisation within the food sector?
Here’s how Electronic Proof of Delivery (EPOD) keeps the food sector moving as
efficiently as possible.
Enabling food sector diversification
Many food and catering
companies have reacted to the interruption of their normal operations by
swiftly adapting their customer services. Restaurants have become meal delivery
providers and/or takeaways, while delis and grocers have packaged up meal kits.
That’s alongside supermarkets that haven’t had to diversify, but have had to keep
warehouses stocked and create as many delivery slots as possible to meet new
levels of consumer demand.
For the food distributors supplying these businesses, these changes are passed on up the supply
chain, creating their own need to provide different types of goods and/or goods
in greater volumes. Fully scalable, an EPOD solution like PODstar provides a
smooth transition to an expanded vehicle fleet, increased delivery rates and a
broadening supply chain, all with full visibility of operations in real time
and data stored for analysis and reporting. PODstar takes the headache out of
operational agility, automating processes such as route optimisation and job
scheduling so as to ensure deliveries are as efficient as possible, even when
demand is at its highest.
Tracking food safety compliance
through to delivery
Logistics for the food
sector comes with its own unique challenges, not least the fact that the goods
are perishable. Food distributors must be able to prove that delivery vehicles
and journey durations meet strict food safety and cold chain compliance
regulations, especially for chilled and frozen foods.
By connecting to
temperature monitoring systems in refrigerated and cold chain vehicles,
gives live temperature status at any point in a food delivery in transit or at
the drop off. Temperature readings are automatically included in the POD for
the customer, along with images taken by the driver on their connected mobile
device as extra evidence if required.
What’s more, the
digital nature of EPOD enables paper-free and contact-free receipt of goods,
for maximum social distancing guideline compliance and customer and driver
peace of mind.
PODstar’s Drop and Go feature allows food delivery businesses to leave goods
in a safe place if no one is there to receive them, and prove this through
date, time, photographic and geolocation verification, automatically uploaded
to the system from the driver’s mobile device.
Transparency and clarity for
Perishable goods and
high consumer demand means food and catering companies need suppliers they can
rely on. They want to know when deliveries will arrive, be alerted to any
change to this as it happens and that their food supplier can provide the order
and delivery information they need, when they need it.
customers awaiting food deliveries can access their own unique online portal,
where they can view order history, archived PODs and most importantly, real
time updates to their goods out for delivery. If anything affects the delivery
window automatically generated by PODstar’s job planning and scheduling tool,
the customer can see it here, saving the delivery company significant time that
could be spent fielding customer calls and enquiries.
Complete operational optimisation for
the food logistics sector
Without the digital
infrastructure an EPOD system like PODstar provides, a food distributor is left
to manage and respond to the ever-shifting needs of its customers in the dark.
Only digital support and optimisation enables a food delivery organisation to
pivot its focus quickly enough to stay ahead of its competitors at times of
intense demand, or to streamline its operations through automation and
Stronger in the long-term
While no industry has
had an easy time of it during COVID-19, it’s obvious that the logistics
industry has had a particularly difficult few months. It is one of only a
handful of sectors that has been simultaneously subject to unprecedented demand
in some areas and to an overnight drought in others, while also facing the
challenges of social distancing, safeguarding and preserving public health.
There’s much further
to go before any kind of ‘new normal’ can be established but, if the
coronavirus crisis has proved anything, it’s that the logistics industry is
built of strong stuff. We’re confident that it will emerge stronger than
To find out more about how PODstar could benefit your food distribution business, please get in touch with us today.