Fierce competition remains a key driver for F&B players to explore innovative digital solutions to improve business. Supply chain disruption, shifting customer expectations and sustainability regulations are significantly impacting the industry. Adopting innovative AI capabilities will differentiate F&B businesses in a challenging market, as more companies look to enhance operations, reduce costs and automate processes.
Prominent global bakery ingredients business Zeelandia Group aims to provide bread mixes and improvers, pastry ingredients, lubricants and release agents with a focus on high-quality goods for small and medium-sized bakeries. However, escalating costs and ingredient availability issues necessitated the development of novel sales and pricing strategies. This prompted Zeelandia’s need for digital transformation, to generate data-driven recommendations for products and pricing to uphold customer loyalty and meet profitability targets.
The business has utilised advanced AI capabilities to significantly enhance the efficiency and precision of product selection and pricing strategies. With the business relying on repeated sales to long-term customers, Zeelandia needed to establish stronger customer relations and sustainable business growth through AI to remain competitive amid complex and uncertain industry conditions.
Transitioning to a modern ERP
Zeelandia’s adaptability to these market challenges thus far lends itself to the business’s digital transformation journey that began in 2017, when it partnered with Infor to transition its enterprise ERP system to Infor CloudSuite Food & Beverage. This cloud-based ERP solution not only facilitated the ability to modernise operations but also contributed to platforming further innovation. This led to the integration of Infor Coleman AI, which began at Zeelandia’s facility in the Czech Republic. With operations in more than 30 countries and sales in approximately 100 countries, this is scheduled to expand across other global operations.
Access to AI and ML innovationBy Infor
This digitisation process helps businesses like Zeelandia to unlock new and dynamic capabilities utilising existing data to improve services and differentiate to negate alternative buying channels. Previously, Zeelandia’s sales team struggled with time-consuming and error-prone manual processes when preparing for customer meetings to analyse product recommendations. With more than 10,000 individual prices, a wide variety of products and a huge customer base, finding the best recommendations for every client-strained sales team, and prepping for calls could often take 30 minutes alone. Such a laborious task was wasting valuable time for both salespeople and customers when other value-added activities could be implemented.
To address this challenge, Zeelandia collaborated with the Infor Coleman AI team to implement the Infor Product Recommender, a solution that automatically generates the top five product recommendations for customers, prioritised based on their likelihood of success. These recommendations are presented through an intuitive web or mobile dashboard powered by Infor Birst analytics. By simplifying the product recommendation process, the Product Recommender significantly streamlines the sales team’s preparation efforts, saving them substantial time, and increasing time to value.
Enhanced customer experience through F&B AI
Zeelandia needed a more sophisticated solution to provide insights from data rather than leveraging spreadsheets given the volume of data necessary. The business has now replaced spreadsheets with the AI and analytics platform that manages the data to provide recommendations for both product and pricing.
This integration has reaped impressive outcomes for Zeelandia, including an impressive 83% reduction in the time required to prepare product recommendations for customers, from approximately 30 minutes to just five. With salespeople having around five meetings daily, it has saved over two hours per person daily.
It has also markedly enhanced customer experiences through personalised and intelligent product recommendations by offering competitive and rationale-based pricing. This has heeded significant business wins, such as increased revenue per transaction, a higher share of wallet per customer and improved marketing conversion rates for new or soon-to-expire products.
“Our relationship with Zeelandia is testament to Infor’s ongoing commitment to innovation, working alongside our customers to deliver industry-specific solutions that address the challenges they face on a daily basis,” says Marcel Koks, senior director of industry & solution strategy for Infor Food & Beverage. “We’re already looking forward to the next stage in Zeelandia’s digital journey and will continue to work in partnership with the team to deliver the solutions needed to underpin their ambitious business goals.”
Enhanced pricing optimisation
Another significant challenge that Zeelandia tackled in collaboration with Infor was pricing optimisation. Fluctuations in costs and product availability necessitated more frequent adjustments to pricing. The existing spreadsheet-based pricing process, involving thousands of products for numerous customers, proved to be labour-intensive and error-prone, unable to keep up with the rapid pace of required price adjustments.
With Zeelandia’s high-level goal to be a trusted partner for bakeries, it has since increased its ability to provide enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty. With plans to apply Infor Coleman AI to its customer relationship management (CRM), this will only continue as it utilises data for increased insights to offer more optimal customer recommendations. It also plans to embrace Infor’s hyper-automation solutions to further enhance operational efficiencies.
“Our goal is to be a trusted partner with bakeries by offering them the right products at the right price so that they, in turn, can keep their customers happy and loyal,” says Michal Rada, transformation leader and group ICT director for AI at Zeelandia. “With Infor’s AI-driven recommendations for products and pricing, not only do our salespeople save time in preparing for customer meetings, but Zeelandia stays true to what we value most – customer intimacy.”
As more F&B businesses look to adopt modern ERP systems, their processes will only continue to evolve, leveraging AI to retrieve better insights that will help them provide new and effective solutions and products to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. In turn, encouraging business results will help them to secure consistent business in the face of a challenging market, as they continue to navigate oncoming industry uncertainty.