It is no secret that COVID had massive impacts on the foodservice industry. Business closures, staffing shortages, and unpredictable demands contributed to essentially breaking foodservice supply chains. The good news is that companies now have a golden opportunity to solve supply chain issues that were uncovered as a result of the pandemic. C.H. Robinson’s Restaurant Solutions team helps customers drive transparency and implement optimization activities throughout the supply chain. Here are four ways to bring benefits to your business in 2024:

  1. Take control of inbound

Historically, restaurant supply chains focused on distribution centers (DC) to store, with most upstream activities being opaque and rarely considered in logistics planning. This lack of visibility and control hindered restaurants from making informed decisions in alignment with their goals. Taking control does not mean taking away—and providers can retain good supplier or DC managed solutions while implementing inbound programs. Holistic inbound management represents significant opportunity to reduce waste and capture savings through increased transparency and oversight. 

Gaining visibility and control further upstream is the critical first step in establishing a winning strategy. What is your inbound strategy, and does it support your supply chain objectives? 

  1. Increase OTIF performance 

On-time, in-full  (OTIF) orders to store locations are crucial to optimize revenue and drive customer loyalty. With signature menu items and limited-time offers, out-of-stocks create negative consumer experiences that are frequently shared on social media. With no visibility to inbound logistics, the component of on time becomes challenging to manage. The in-full part of OTIF can be even more difficult to execute without visibility to quantities ordered, shipped, and received. This comes from connecting suppliers and distributors on a shared technology platform and illuminating supply chain nodes to deliver real-time information. Measuring suppliers and distributors and holding supply chain partners accountable via a shared model of transparency is the core of strategic networks. Attaining item-level visibility and control increases overall OTIF performance. 

  1. Manage flow of goods at the item level 

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of item-level visibility for success in today’s competitive landscape. Consumers’ want options and new ingredients, creating the need for “experiences” both online and in-store which can drive supply chain complexity. Meeting demands means having the ability to orchestrate complex supply chains seamlessly. 

Item-level management requires cost component visibility—freight on board, transportation, warehousing, and more. With visibility, decisions can be made whether to flow goods from supply to DC or leverage re-distribution options. Re-D is a powerful tool enabling inbound freight optimization while keeping the right amount of inventory at DCs. To achieve optimal flow for each commodity in a network, providers should work with supply chain engineers who understand business objectives. These optimizations yield lower costs and better service for stores and franchisees too. 

  1. Leverage supply chain engineers 

Supply chain engineering is the fabric that ties the above components together. Networks constantly evolve and therefore require constant attention and maintenance. History shows that providers with the ability to shift with market needs will survive and thrive, and this requires diligence and adherence to always look for opportunities to improve. The best engineering uses knowledge, expertise, and network optimization software to create the perfect state for the flow of goods.

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By Adam Driscoll: Director, Strategic Accounts, C. H. Robinson

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