Why Now is the Right Time to Implement Food Distribution Software

Matt Picariello

Implementing a food distribution software system into a business is no easy task. It requires coordination across multiple levels of an organization in order to arrive at a decision that works for everyone. With such a high level of synchronization needed, a common result that often occurs is to abandon the search process and revert back to older and perhaps outdated business processes. However, for most companies in the food industry, there will come a time where prolonging the inevitable will put growth at risk.  Although it may never be the “perfect” time to implement software, the more you delay the harder it will ultimately become.  Consider the following reasons why now is a good time to finally implement the food traceability system you need:

More Flexibility in Budget:

Many companies find themselves in the following predicament. They are growing at a favorable pace and need software to manage the increased order volume and inventory. Unfortunately, quality software systems that are needed to manage these emerging processes and other food distribution specific needs are not cheap and require a considerable financial commitment. A company’s decision makers must weigh these costs against the perceived value and benefits to determine if the investment in software is necessary.  More often than not, at some point the need for software will no longer be a luxury, it will become a necessity. Despite the financial commitment, after a successful software implementation you should be able to re-coup those costs. For example, the number of man hours saved by automating older manual processes can represent a considerable portion of the costs.

Industry Landscape

A company can go through many searches and each time come to the conclusion that the cost of implementing an integrated software package outweighs the perceived benefits. In these situations, they often revert back to older, manual processes or outdated software that can no longer fulfill their needs. However, for most companies there will come a point in time when these manual processes will no longer be sustainable and the need for a more streamlined approach will become evident. In many instances remaining stagnant and not taking a macro-level view of the company’s processes can hurt a company and stunt growth. Being versatile and proactive in analyzing current processes is a strength of successful companies. The efficiencies gained with new software can take a company to a new level of success not attainable without an upgrade.

In other instances, deciding on whether a company should implement new software is no longer an option, it becomes mandatory. In the food industry specifically, companies must have proper lot tracking systems in place in order to easily trace a product throughout the supply chain and to also remain FDA compliant. This need was highlighted recently in Western Canada as major wholesaler Costco recalled several products under the brand name "Organic by Nature" due to possible Listeria contamination, as reported by CBC News. Products affected by this recall included Organic Sweet Peas, Frozen Butternut Squash and Vegetable Medley. Lot tracking/traceability functionality inherent in certain food distribution software enables a supplier to keep track of which customers received specific shipments of items and when they were received, a feature that is necessary in facilitating an effective and timely recall. For industries that deal with products that can be potentially harmful to public health (i.e. food, pharmaceuticals, etc.) having the proper software system in place is essential in maintaining public safety and staying compliant under FDA regulations.

Click here for more information on Lot Tracking/Traceability functionality

New Options Flood the Market:

Costs are not the only reason a company may decide against installing a software system. In many instances, company decision makers elect to maintain the status quo mainly because none of the options available at the time made sense. Fortunately, in this scenario it is very likely that during the time you have delayed the search process, new options have entered the marketplace that can now meet your needs best. In addition, software companies are constantly trying to expand and refine their offerings and subsequently place a huge emphasis on research and development to be able to offer clients a complete solution. Perhaps there was a software package you really liked, but it was missing a key feature that could have helped streamline your operations. It is always wise to revert back to these companies to see if they have developed the feature you were hoping for or something similar. Many software companies take suggestions from clients and potential clients on how to improve the software, and perhaps your pain point was very common and they took the time to address it in their latest update. Either way, it is always wise to stay privy to the latest offerings in a constantly evolving market place.

More Time and Online Resources:

Many companies that are installing software for the first time or are replacing outdated systems may not necessarily have the means for an expansive and intricate software search. For the owner of a food distribution business that is growing there are certain activities that take precedent, and unfortunately a lot of those involve putting out fires that proper software could have helped avoid.  In addition, hiring a consultant or creating a task force might not be possible due to the lack of resources available. However, as the company grows and more efficient processes are established and more staff is hired, the owner or primary decision makers will have more time available to dedicate to a software search. In addition, there are an abundance of resources and websites dedicated to helping individuals under this type of time strain. It is important to make the search a priority in order to find the best solution for your business.

For many growing food distribution businesses, it is difficult to allocate any time to a software search. And for those that do, it becomes just as easy to get frustrated and give up. However, as time passes different variables such as budget, time and industry change. There may not be a perfect time to find a new solution, but the longer you wait, the more difficult it will become.  In order to continue to grow, start the search now to find the system you need.


  1. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/costco-listeria-organic-by-nature-recall-1.3566831