Sometimes, things can be going just fine — but then external events knock you off course and force you to re-evaluate the way your run your business. The financial crisis of 2008 was the catalyst for exactly this kind of re-evaluation for JJ Food Service, which supplies products to UK-based restaurants, pubs, hotels and bars.

When the financial crisis hit, JJ Food Service quickly realized that its existing paper-based processes just didn’t give it the platform it needed to improve profitability while also being able to scale as business improved. JJ Food Service made a bold move: It embraced the power of digital platforms and data to streamline and optimize its operations.

Digitizing manual, paper-based processes

JJ Food Service quickly realized it needed to tackle three challenges:

  • Inefficient manual processes. Back-office staff manually processed invoices for orders and often worked until 10:00 p.m., since the goods-loading process could begin only after the invoices had been processed. Delivery routes were also designed and tracked on paper.
  • Data fragmentation. Leaders struggled due to a lack of integration among accounting systems, warehouse systems and the database used by the sales team. This resulted in contradictory and overlapping datasets, which made it impossible to get an integrated view of the health of the business. Inventory management was done manually, and there was no real-time visibility into stock availability, which often led to stock outages and high inventory costs.
  • Inability to monitor and predict demand. The company had no consolidated records about customer behavior or order history, so it had little understanding of buyers’ needs. This resulted in teams having to react to changes in demand after the fact — meaning they could never plan proactively.

Building an intelligent core that delivers insights everywhere

To address these three challenges, JJ Food Service decided on one integrated solution: an enterprise-wide technology platform that hosts and runs all the required business logic.

Creating a single version of the truth

The platform has API-level integration into JJ Food Service’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, enabling real-time order and fulfillment management. It provides a holistic view of the business, as it ingests data from all the systems that underpin the activities of the different lines of business. This enables cross-team collaboration to generate agile processes that can quickly optimize the fulfillment of complex orders.

Driving back-office process automation

JJ Food Service’s mobile app streamlines and integrates the entire logistics process end to end, eliminating overhead in the back office by allowing delivery drivers to produce invoices at the point of delivery. The app also provides insight into the behavior of the drivers, enabling real-time optimization of delivery routes and accurate performance-based incentive models.

Predictive ordering

JJ Food Service leverages predictive machine learning (ML) algorithms that analyze the frequency with which customers order specific goods. This intelligent system has enabled the company to increase wallet share on its accounts by proactively approaching customers.

Creating a true all-around financial win

JJ Food Service has always had a strong focus on profitability. Adopting digital technologies that reduce the time to process orders and enable the company to make more deliveries per day without increasing costs is critical.

Key Metrics for JJ Food Service, IDC 2018

The new technology helped JJ Food Service boost profitability by reducing the time to process orders and increasing the number of daily drops. Waste reduction was achieved through real-time insights about the freezer and chiller temperatures on the delivery vehicles. The company managed to increase share of wallet by creating a 360-degree view of the customer, which helps it understand buying behavior and predict future orders. Furthermore, it improved customer satisfaction by avoiding the sale of unavailable products. The accuracy of the sales teams was increased by providing them with all relevant information on the customers, and the back-office overhead was reduced by automating the manual and repetitive tasks.

Through digital transformation, JJ Food Service has managed to reinvent the way it works.


This article is part of the IDC series “Your pathway to digital success,” written to inspire business leaders to overcome common challenges along their organizations’ journeys.