One of Australia's leading fresh produce wholesale management software companies, Zupply has found that using a digital platform during the COVID-19 pandemic has given their clients an advantage in terms of reducing costs while maintaining supply.
The system works by connecting wholesale companies with restaurants and other foodservice customers, as well as consumers directly.
"Our platform not only manages business to business (B2B) but also business to customer B2C, so businesses can also have online capabilities for the general public," Co-Founder James Kelly said. "It was a great saviour during coronavirus. Wholesalers were severely impacted by COVID-19, with chefs and restaurants as well as food and beverage places shut down. So, being able to maintain their businesses, and being able to pivot to that 'B2C' option really helped wholesalers keep trading. Also, with Zupply and the process of automation, whether it is 20 customers or 300 customers, it's all the same staff. So, they could reduce staff and costs and operate in the manner they are used to."
Mr Kelly's background is in the fruit and vegetable wholesale business, so he says he has been able to use that knowledge to create the order management platform for suppliers to manage their customers from not only their orders but also inventory and distribution.
"Through the app, there is an ordering app for chefs and restaurants; wholesalers can receive orders and have different pricing levels," he said. "Once orders are in, they need to manage those orders and sort them by delivery runs, or delivery dates and endless pricing levels for their customers with multiple groups. So, we automate all that process. We also have an accounting package in there that manages the invoices and payments to reduce double handling orders and invoices. Further to that, there are multiple features specifically designed for fresh food wholesalers."
Zupply is available online via any internet-enabled device. Traditionally, the software systems were established for the wholesale trade, but Mr Kelly says it expanded as cafes, restaurants and grocers became interested in getting their operations online.
"Whether it is an organic company in Avalon or a gourmet grocer in Cronulla they want to be able to offer their services to their community," Mr Kelly said. "That's where we can provide a quick solution all in the one platform. We have got wholesalers that have the capacity to do 300 orders a day down to wholesalers that do 20 a day. Being able to change their operations and manage those orders in one place is key to them being able to remain alive and keep the doors open."
There are two forms of the platform; Premium and Light. The Light version is a very quick uptake, and some wholesalers were up and running in hours, according to Mr Kelly, especially if they were happy to use a generic product list.
"If they had an existing website, we can also link that and provide the e-commerce solution," Mr Kellysaid. "Whereas, the premium is the complete business tool "It's all about leadership from the top, where businesses are looking for a digital transformation to be able to scale in the future. Ultimately, premiums about bringing on board the customer and changing the business process, rolling it out across the accounts, warehouse and sales team and getting them all aligned. With the Light package, customers were able to get that online presence, receive those orders and get them out the door quickly and easily."
Mr Kelly added that the payment cash flow and forecasting side was just as important in running a wholesale business, and improving direct channels between the two parties is a trend the industry is seeking, especially post-COVID-19.
"The industry is changing, so in the B2B, restaurant and food and beverage industry, it is time for wholesalers to have more power in regards to payments," he said. "Previously, it has been a credit account, and a lot of time is spent negotiating and chasing payments per customer. Now, through Zupply’s financial platform we are able to put them on a payment plan and be able to schedule them, to reduce risk and improve forecasting of cash flow for the wholesaler. There is a lot of talk in the industry now, and that is long overdue."