The Ultimate DSD Sales Guide: 5 Ways to Boost B2B Orders

Are you navigating the complex world of Direct Store Delivery (DSD) sales? Understanding the complexities of DSD can transform the way you supply to local and smaller retailers, offering tremendous opportunities for business growth.

So, let's discover how direct store delivery sales work and why this could become the cornerstone of your business strategy. In this guide, we explore:

  • The role of DSD in efficiently supplying local and smaller retailers.

  • How understanding your market can transform your sales.

  • Strategies to enhance product appeal and sales techniques.

  • Top direct store delivery trends and supply chain insights to watch out for

  • The importance of building strong relationships and leveraging technology for success.

P.S., want to find a better way to manage DSD sales? Imagine a world where B2B order-taking, inventory management, and direct store deliveries are all in a day's work.

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What are DSD Sales in the Supply Chain?

DSD Sales, or Direct Store Delivery Sales, refers to the direct delivery of products from suppliers to retail stores, bypassing typical distribution channels.

This strategy ensures rapid product replenishment, enhancing inventory freshness, especially for perishables or high-demand items. It's a key tactic for suppliers to maintain control over how their products are stocked and displayed.

How to Get Started with Direct Store Delivery Sales

Are you wondering about the specifics of DSD operations and how the end-to-end direct store delivery model works? When venturing into the world of direct store delivery, there's a lot to understand, from supply chain dynamics to the process of delivering goods from manufacturers to a retail store.

Hence, let's explore how to better get started with DSD sales and boost B2B orders in three simple steps.

1. Understand Your Market

Understand Your Market

The centralized or traditional distribution model has long been a standard in the industry. Retail stakeholders are used to carrying over goods from the manufacturer to a retailer's distribution center and then to a physical store.

To stand out as a direct store delivery business, cost-competitiveness might not always be enough. You need a real edge in the market, starting with understanding retailer's pain points and delivering solutions to address them.

A good place to start your research is by identifying niche markets and tailoring your offerings through market research and customer insights. Here’s a step-by-step guide to nail this process:

Conduct thorough market research

  • Demographic Analysis: Understand the age, income level, lifestyle, and cultural background of the consumers in your target areas. Tools like U.S. Census data can be insightful, offering various reports on retail market insights and valuable statistics. From there on, you can tailor your approach depending on each submarket.

  • Competitor Analysis: Look at what similar businesses in your area are offering and identify gaps in their product lines that you can fill to gain a competitive advantage. Look for why a warehouse or distribution center is popular within your area and study their USP. Is that something you can replicate (e.g. goods delivered directly to a retailer in less than 24 hours)?

Gather customer insights

  • Surveys and Feedback: Use tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to gather feedback from current and potential customers. Market insights are invaluable during the research phase. You can do so through newsletters, a dedicated landing page, or SMS marketing.

  • Social Media Monitoring: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can provide real-time insights into consumer preferences and trends. Dive into Facebook groups and social media stats, and research market demands through native insights reported by social media channels. Give these resources a thorough read before crafting your DSD strategy.

Spot trends and patterns

  • Sales Data Analysis: if available, analyze your current sales data to see which items are popular in specific locations. This can give you some perspective on what works and what doesn't, and help retailers with future shelf inventory management efforts, or even anticipate trends and prepare strategies in advance.

    • Pro Tip: Solid Route Accounting™'s Stop Analysis and Trip Report features provide insights into sales patterns, customer behaviors, and route efficiencies, which are crucial for forecasting future demand and sales data analysis.

      Solid Route Accounting Stop Analysis Report
  • Keep an Eye on Cultural Movements: Be aware of any local, national, or global trends that might influence consumer preferences, such as environmental concerns or health trends like milk alternatives (which are expected to rise by more than 30% by 2028) and meat substitutes. Seasonal fluctuations are the driving force in demand and supply economics. With this type of data, you can engage numerous sales growth tactics that boost business, such as:

    • Prioritizing local organic products for health-conscious consumers in upscale neighbourhoods.

    • Prioritizing ethnic foods targeting specific immigrant communities or cultural areas.

2. Enhance Product Appeal

Enhance Product Appeal

Apart from a sound delivery strategy, good inventory tracking, and cost-friendly delivery models, you need your products to become the go-to choice in the grocery industry and bypass retail distribution centers.

Here are ways to enhance your product's appeal, making it irresistible in retail environments:

Optimize product presentation for small retailers

  • Strategic Display Placement: Use high-traffic areas like end caps and checkout counters for maximum visibility. For instance, place healthier snack options near fitness magazines or near the register to capitalize on impulse buys. For example, products located at the edges of an aisle sell between 37.0% and 69.6% more than those located near the center.

  • Theme-Based Merchandising: Align your displays with seasonal themes or local events. For example, create a special display for local sports team events, highlighting relevant snack or beverage options.

Sample tastings or demo products for convenience stores

  • Live Sampling Stations: Set up small, manned stations in stores for customers to taste new products and drive retailers to order more items. Retailers can place orders online using the Solid Order Entry™ app at their convenience (or perhaps when they run out of supply), getting this can be especially effective for introducing exotic flavours or innovative food products.

  • Virtual Demonstrations: Use digital displays or tablets showing your product in use, like a quick recipe video using your food products, adding a modern touch to traditional sampling.

  • Limited-Time Offers: Encourage immediate purchases by pairing samples with limited-time discounts or bundle offers on store shelves.

Expand product selection to meet local demands

  • Locally Sourced Products: Showcase goods made with local ingredients or by local artisans, tapping into community pride and the trend towards supporting local businesses.

  • Specialty Items for Targeted Demographics: Offer products that cater to specific dietary needs or lifestyle choices prevalent in the community, like gluten-free, vegan, or keto-friendly options.

  • Cultural Specificity: In ethnically diverse areas, offer products that resonate with the community's cultural preferences. This could include specialty ethnic foods, spices, or traditional snacks.

3. Implement Feedback-Informed Product Development

The goal is to become more than just a reliable DSD distribution center and partner for your retail grocery stores. When your services do more than just lower store labour costs, including improving customer satisfaction, inventory management, and sales performance, all while helping them bypass the warehouse management system, you win.

To do so, feedback must stay at the forefront of your DSD program. Here's how to leverage feedback as a DSD distribution business:

  • Customer Feedback Loops: Regularly collect feedback from both retailers and end consumers to understand their preferences and adjust your product lineup, order management, delivery routes, and entire DSD flow accordingly.

  • Pilot New Products: Test new products in a select number of stores and gauge consumer reaction before a full-scale rollout. Use these pilots to gather data and refine the product based on real-world feedback.

Trust Solid Route Accounting™ with inventory tracking and managing, invoice level discounts, placing orders, route planning, linking consumer demands with proper product placement, and so much more!

Solid Sales Pro Transaction Creation

Top Sales Strategies to Boost DSD Sales Growth

Top Sales Strategies to Boost DSD Sales Growth

1. Expand your product selection to meet local demands in DSD sales

When it comes to Direct Store Delivery (DSD), adapting your product range to meet the unique demands of local markets is a surefire way to enhance retailer relationships and increase sales. Here's how you can expand your product selection the right way:

Offer locally sourced or produced items

  • Forge Local Partnerships: Collaborate with local farmers and artisans to offer products that resonate with local tastes and traditions. For example, source fresh produce from nearby farms or include artisanal crafts from local creators while keeping product quality a priority.

  • Highlight Local Heritage: Use packaging and marketing to tell the story of local sourcing, connecting customers with the origin of the products. This can build a sense of community and trust.

  • Limited Edition Local Items: Introduce exclusive products that are only available in specific locations, creating a unique shopping experience. For instance, a specialty jam made from local berries that is available only in certain regions.

  • Aligning with Health and Dietary Trends:

    • Healthy Alternatives: In regions where health and fitness are a priority, include more health-focused options, such as sugar-free, low-carb, or plant-based alternatives.

    • Innovative Health Products: Keep up with the latest health trends by offering innovative products like probiotic drinks, superfoods, or plant-based meat substitutes.

Diversify product lines

Introduce a range of products catering to various dietary needs and lifestyle choices prevalent in the area. For instance, offer a selection of organic, gluten-free, or low-calorie products in health-conscious communities.

Account for cultural sensitivity

Account for cultural sensitivity

In areas with diverse ethnic communities, include products that cater to different cultural cuisines and traditions. For example, stocking specific spices, condiments, or snacks that are popular within these communities.

By now, you might be wondering how to find all the relevant data for personalized offers in your DSD strategy. Let's explore some practical steps:

  • Conduct Market Research: Use data analytics to understand the specific needs and preferences of different locales. Surveys, sales data analysis, and community engagement can provide insights into what specialty items are in demand.

  • Using Local Influencers and Tastemakers:

    • Partner with Local Influencers: Collaborate with local food bloggers, nutritionists, or chefs to promote your specialty products. They can help validate your offerings and increase their appeal through cooking demonstrations, reviews, or recipe development.

    • Community-Based Marketing Campaigns: Create marketing campaigns that involve local figures or reference local landmarks and events, making your products more relatable and appealing to the community. Then, gather relevant insights into what works and what doesn't.

  • Responsive Product Development:

    • Quick Adaptation to Feedback: Regularly update your product lineup based on retailer and customer feedback. Be agile in introducing new items or discontinuing those that do not perform well.

    • Test and Learn: Implement a 'test and learn' approach where new products are introduced in a small market segment first to gauge response before a wider rollout.

2. Personalize relationships with retailers

Personalize relationships with retailers

Regular, personal check-ins

  • Schedule Regular Visits: Make frequent, scheduled visits to discuss needs, feedback, and potential opportunities. These can be weekly or bi-weekly, depending on the retailer's preference.

  • Personalized Communication: Tailor your communication style to match each retailer’s preference, whether they favour face-to-face meetings, phone calls, emails, or even text messages.

  • Active Listening: Show genuine interest in their business challenges and be ready to offer solutions or adjustments to your service that could help them.

Customized promotions and deals

  • Data-Driven Offers: Analyze the retailer’s sales data to create tailored promotions that align with their customer demographics and buying patterns.

  • Seasonal and Event-Based Promotions: Collaborate on promotions for local events, holidays, or seasons, such as a special discount on relevant products during a local festival.

  • Exclusive Retailer Offers: Create exclusive offers or first access to new products for long-standing or high-volume retailers as a show of appreciation for their business.

Building trust through reliability and consistency

  • Consistent Delivery Schedules: Maintain a reliable delivery schedule to build trust. This shows that you value their business and are committed to supporting their success.

  • Flexibility in Supply: Be adaptable to their changing needs, whether it’s adjusting order quantities or accommodating last-minute requests.

Involve retailers in product development

  • Retailer Feedback in Product Innovation: Invite them to provide input on new product development, giving them a sense of ownership and alignment with your brand.

  • Beta Testing New Products: Offer them the opportunity to be the first to test and sell new products in their store.

3. Become a digital-first business to gain an edge over the centralized distribution model

Become a digital-first business

Invest in DSD software

Adopting a digital-first strategy is crucial for Direct Store Delivery (DSD) operators aiming to outshine traditional centralized distribution methods. You can transition to a digital-centric business model by:

  • Tools like Solid Route Accounting™ streamline order taking and integrate well with ERP systems like QuickBooks, Sage 100, and SYSPRO ERP. This integration provides a unified view of sales, inventory, and customer data, among other benefits like:

    Solid Route Accounting Order Taking App
  • Within the app, you can place orders directly into the system by customer demands or store personnel, reducing the need for manual data entry and lowering the risk of errors.

  • The DSD software also provides detailed reports, such as cash-out reports, stock counts, and transaction reviews. This data can be invaluable for assessing sales performance, understanding customer buying patterns, and offering greater control over stock-keeping unit decisions and allocation of shelf space.

  • On top of it all, the platform offers advanced customer management features, including the ability to track specific customer preferences, sales history, and tailored pricing. In a word of hyper-personalization, this feature is an invaluable asset to any retail player.

    Solid Route Accounting Customer Lookup

Digitize your operations

  • Transition from phone calls, faxes, and paper documents to an all-in-one distribution management software that unifies customers, suppliers, and your retail store operations.

  • Encourage team members to embrace new technologies. Change brings resistance at first, as stakeholders often find it hard to switch from traditional distribution models such as centralized distribution.

You can address the risk-averse general opinion with proper in-house training on why digital adoption is the way forward.

Get started with digital marketing strategies

For Direct Store Delivery (DSD) distributors, targeting your marketing efforts can attract more retail partners and increase sales. Here are some tailored digital marketing strategies that you can implement right away:

  • Create engaging content that educates retailers, or share stories demonstrating how your DSD services have helped other retailers. Valuable content for your audience includes blog posts and free market studies, educational videos, useful infographics, and social media posts.

  • Leverage social media through platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, which are ideal for connecting with business owners and retail managers. Share industry insights, new service offerings, and customer testimonials to engage with your audience.

  • Post updates and industry news regularly and engage with comments on your go-to marketing channels to build a community around your brand.

    • You can find these resources from platforms like Gartner, Retail Dive, and news outlets like CNBC (including their dedicated section of retail news).

4. Build strong relationships

Build strong relationships

Building strong relationships is crucial in the Direct Store Delivery (DSD) business, especially when dealing with local and smaller retailers. Here's a closer look at three key areas to focus on:

Exceed expectations with delivery and support

  • Reliable and Flexible Delivery: Adapt to the unique schedules of small businesses. For instance, offer early morning or late evening deliveries for convenience stores with extended hours.

  • Proactive Communication: Keep retailers informed about delivery times and any potential delays. Utilizing a system like Solid Route Accounting ensures consistent communication and timely deliveries.

  • Tailored Delivery Options: Cater to specific store requirements, such as special handling for fragile items or providing smaller, more frequent deliveries to manage limited storage space.

Create a feedback-informed improvement process

  • Regular Surveys and Check-Ins: Use tools like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey to gather feedback on product selection, delivery schedules, and service quality.

  • Implement Changes Based on Feedback: Show that you value their opinions by making noticeable adjustments. For example, if retailers request more variety in a particular product line, introduce new options in the next delivery cycle.

  • Continuous Improvement Culture: Encourage your team to view feedback as an opportunity for growth, not criticism.

Develop joint marketing efforts

  • Community Engagement: Collaborate on local events, like sponsoring a neighbourhood festival or participating in charity fundraisers. This not only enhances brand visibility but also strengthens community ties.

  • Co-Branded Promotions: Work together on special offers or discounts that can be advertised in-store and through local media channels. For example, a "buy one, get one free" promotion on new product launches.

  • Social Media Collaborations: Engage in joint social media campaigns where both parties can benefit from shared content. Create a hashtag specific to the collaboration to track engagement and reach. Some examples of popular hashtags in the DSD industry include:

  • Loyalty Programs: Develop loyalty programs that encourage repeat business for both the retailer and your brand. For example, a points system where purchases of your products earn the retailer credits towards future orders.

5. Leverage technology in your direct store delivery model

Adopting cutting-edge technology is not just a luxury but a necessity for Direct Store Delivery (DSD) businesses. Here's how integrating modern tech tools can transform your DSD sales strategy:

Streamline order processes route planning and accounting:

  • Use DSD software to improve route planning. Take the management of delivery and sales routes seriously, as it can significantly impact your operating costs. Solid Route Accounting™ helps you manage route planning, the inventory for each route, and track sales, all while integrating this data with accounting software.

  • Focus on High-Value Clients: Harness data to zero in on clients that bring in the most business. Understanding which stores place larger orders or have frequent requirements can help in tailoring your sales efforts for maximum impact.

Enhanced performance monitoring and demand forecasting

  • Data-Driven Sales Strategies: Use DSD software to gather data that sharpen your sales approach. Detailed insights into customer buying patterns, preferred products, and peak buying times allow for more targeted sales pitches and inventory management.

Build a more responsive customer service model

  • Identify and Address Service Bottlenecks: Regularly analyzing sales routes and customer interactions can help pinpoint areas where service can be improved. This proactive approach to customer service helps in building a loyal customer base.

  • Tailoring Product Mix to Regional Preferences: Understanding regional buying preferences through sales data can guide decisions on which products to stock more and which to phase out, ensuring that your offerings always align with market demand and trends.

Bring More Sales Home with Solid Innovation

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The key to success in DSD sales lies in adaptation, innovation, and building strong relationships. By now, you've already gained major insights and strategies to transform your DSD sales handling, positioning your business as a leader in this competitive landscape.

So, let's recap the key takeaways:

  • You should tailor offerings to meet local market demands.

  • Implement advanced tech tools for efficiency and data-driven decisions.

  • Build personal relationships with retailers for mutual growth.

  • Employ mobile ordering and sales tracking for real-time updates.

Solid Innovation stands as your partner in this transformative journey. Our comprehensive solutions, designed to meet the unique demands of DSD sales, align perfectly with the strategies of a successful DSD distribution business.

From streamlining order processing to providing invaluable sales analytics, trust Solid Route Accounting™ to boost your sales and efficientize your operations! Benefit from our 35-day trial today!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are DSD sales?

The DSD sales model refers to the process where DSD suppliers or distributors sell products directly to retail stores, sidestepping traditional distribution centers or warehouses. In a DSD model, sales transactions occur at the retail location, often with sales representatives or delivery personnel processing the orders.

2. What are DSD route sales?

DSD route sales involve sales representatives or delivery drivers following a specific route to visit multiple retail locations, typically on a regular schedule. At each stop, they will deliver pre-ordered goods, take new orders, manage returns, and sometimes even make on-the-spot sales, ensuring proper product placement for retailers.

3. What does DSD mean in inventory?

In inventory management, DSD impacts how products are stocked at retail locations. Unlike centralized distribution, where inventory is sent from warehouse space to multiple stores, DSD allows for direct stock replenishment from the supplier to each store.

This method can lead to more accurate inventory levels, reduced storage needs at retail sites, and often fresher products available for consumers.