This article was first published in the Spring 2014 issue of Prime,
Not too long ago, most food and beverage manufacturers thought their presence on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest offered few benefits to their business. Since consumers are increasingly using social media and mobile technologies to make buying decisions, food manufacturers now are leveraging social media to tap into valuable customer viewpoints and preferences, as well as promote collaboration between employees, partners and suppliers to create better end products. Its collaborative capabilities also have an impact on customer service. Manufacturers spend a significant amount of time and resources on this and can use social media as another channel to not only listen to customer comments and concerns but also to respond promptly.
The most visible benefits of social media can be seen in how it promotes and strengthens a manufacturer’s brand. For example, by posting solutions to users’ problems, whether related to its product or an industry problem, a manufacturer can establish itself as a trusted resource. They also can publish content about industry trends and issues on forums and social communities which helps establish the company as a thought leader or industry expert, further increasing brand trust. Using social curation platforms, such as Pinterest, also enables organisations to obtain useful shopper information and insights for aiding new product development, predicting customer demand and improving customer service, as well as providing a targeted brand message.
Still, the greatest impact on growth may be how manufacturers leverage mobile technology with their enterprise data to track and trace the full supply chain path of their food products. Not only does this help with regulatory food safety compliance, but it also enables a manufacturer to engage directly with consumers. With mobile traceability applications, food manufacturers can communicate product and food safety information directly to the consumer at the point of sale.
An example of this type of mobile traceability application is Junction Solutions’ CLEARthru application, which integrates with Microsoft Dynamics AX. Food manufacturers apply unique coded labels to cases or individual items, with product information linked to a specific grower, manufacturer, or processing facility. This allows the manufacturer to extend access of detailed food information directly to the consumer.
All shoppers need to do is simply scan a barcode, QR code, or metatag of a food product with their smartphones to determine if it has been recalled or contains any allergens. From that scan, the food manufacturer can push targeted coupons and promotions, suggestions on other brand products, and recipe information to encourage more upsell, cross-sell and volume sale opportunities. The application then captures consumer feedback data for storage in Dynamics AX to help with future messaging and campaign branding that will encourage repeat purchases and address any changes in consumer behaviour.
The potential of social media and mobile to generate new growth opportunities appears virtually limitless. By integrating these technologies with Dynamics AX, food and beverage manufacturers can meet the growing consumer demand for more personalised information, and, in exchange, consumers will offer their loyalty and their dollars.
Christian Hutter is executive vice president, Strategy and Products at Junction Solutions
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