PepsiCo says that its merchandising and distribution efficiency has improved radically since it began using the Apple iPhone and iPad alongside custom software apps specially developed in house.
Gatorade, Mountain Dew, Tropicana, Quaker and Frito-Lay maker PepsiCo said that delivering drinks to consumers required a complex web of interlocking distribution systems and ever-shifting logistics.
Using the iPhone, IPad and custom applications developed internally, PepsiCo said it was able to eliminate bottlenecks (PepsiCo North America Beverages runs around 17,000 distribution routes daily) and ensure the right products got to the right places quickly and efficiently.
Historically, PepsiCo said drivers and merchandisers started the day by picking-up printed schedules with order quantities and tasks: from unloading cases of soda to erecting new product displays.
Handling real-time requests
When a store wished to amend or cancel an order in such cases, it was difficult to accommodate the request in real time, the company said, since communicating with delivery drivers was difficult.
“If you couldn’t get hold of a driver on the road, you didn’t know where the delivery was. Hours could go by where you didn’t know what was going on,” said Dimitri Papaevagelou, territory sales manager for PepsiCo North America Beverages (PNAB).
PepsiCo said it had made merchandising and distribution as seamless as possible by creating Power4Merch, a custom in-house app developed for the iPhone.
This notifies merchandisers when a driver arrived at a store, ensuring that deliveries were unloaded quickly and displayed correctly on shelves, as Mark Uppaluri, director of selling systems, PNAB, explained.
“It allows the merchandiser to see his day right on iPhone. It has an electronic timecard, and he can see his schedule, the store details, the account profiles, and everything he needs to know to service the store," he said.
Pricing, planograms, contracts…
Managers can also use iPads to monitor team performance, access pricing information, planograms and contracts, and co-ordinate merchandising deliveries using two custom-built applications.
Uppaluri said developing PepsiCo’s first purpose-built Apple app took just four months, and that the iPhone and iPad fitted right in with its established IT systems.
“We don't get a lot of game-changers in our industry,” Spearman said. “But we think iPhone and iPad technology is absolutely a game-changer for us, both in terms of communication and service and in productivity. We’re very, very excited about it," he said.