Supplier Spotlight: Staying Relevant while Minimising Operational Friction

Neil Shayle
Supply chain

Navigating the delicate balance of supplier relationships and operational efficiency has never been more crucial. Explore our insights on maintaining relevance and smoothing out operations in the hospitality sector.

As the hospitality landscape continues to shift and evolve amidst a backdrop of ongoing challenges, the role of suppliers in ensuring seamless operations for their customers is ever more crucial. Providing an exceptional customer experience is of course no easy feat today, but if suppliers are to stay relevant and minimise obstacles driven by operational friction, they must adapt to changing market demands. Utilising P2P (purchase to pay) technology to establish a fully functional EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) connection to streamline and automate supply chain processes, will go some way towards lifting the burden. For example, you can read more about Zupa’s recent EDI integration with Brakes Catering Equipment here.

Advances in innovative tech solutions that embrace customer-centric strategies (such as Zupa’s platform, Caternet), will not only help suppliers to drive operational efficiency, but will also help to reduce costs and drive sustainable growth within the sector. Likewise, staying relevant in the hospitality industry involves taking time to understand and anticipate customers’ needs. Supply chain fragility and product shortages are ongoing issues, and something that hospitality businesses fear due to their ability to impact service – and this can risk customers looking elsewhere. Therefore, prioritising customer satisfaction with efficient and timely deliveries, not to mention high quality products and ingredients, is fundamental to building trust and loyalty long term.  

Essentially, this is about tailoring offerings to meet specific preferences and in doing so, providing a more personalised service to customers. Using technology to harness data analytics and market insights can also help suppliers to create a unique competitive advantage, while fostering a seamless and automated exchange of information between systems, will eliminate the need for cumbersome paper invoices and credits ensuring quicker and more accurate payments. Historically, the absence of EDI capabilities across catering systems and suppliers has led to manual processing of purchase orders and paper documentation, which can be problematic not to mention a huge drain on resource.

Despite best intentions, operational friction can also hinder supply chain processes and impact customer service. Suppliers can minimise friction by optimising their inventory management, improving channels of communication with customers, and by implementing robust quality control measures.  Equally, being part of a wider supplier community, while encouraging collaboration and greater transparency across the supply chain, means suppliers can elevate efficiency while reducing disruption.

Technology is playing a pivotal role in reshaping the hospitality supply chain and supporting more effective communication and collaboration between suppliers, vendors, and hospitality providers. By implementing cloud-based platforms like Caternet, suppliers can access real-time data that is held in one place, track order status, and resolve issues more promptly. Collaborative technologies also help suppliers work alongside their customers on common goals, driving mutual success.

Sustainability is also key differentiator for hospitality suppliers from a branding and reputational perspective. Adopting eco-friendly practices, such as sustainable product sourcing, packaging, and energy-efficient operations, suppliers can reduce their impact on the planet and appeal to their environmentally savvy customers in the process.

In summary, technology holds the key to staying relevant and unlocking operational friction; namely because improved operational visibility promotes greater collaboration across the supply chain, putting the customer experience first. The last few years have shown that the hospitality industry never stands still regardless of what is thrown at it. As with any evolving industry, the ability to adapt and flex to prioritise the customer experience will ensure long term growth and success. Thankfully, most cloud-based systems mean no joining or admin fees, and no upfront capital expenditure – in fact, suppliers only need a smart phone/tablet and an internet connection to embrace technology and begin their journey towards operational efficiency and exceptional customer service. It really is that simple.