PepsiCo Optimizes Field with Apple and Apps

By  Lori Castle, Editor in Chief — May 06, 2013

PepsiCo’s North America Beverages division uses a common operations structure called direct store delivery (or DSD). The system, which supports approximately 17,000 distribution routes daily, relies on a division of labor — one person focuses on selling and merchandising, one on delivering and one providing weekend merchandising support.

“This has helped us create a stronger business over the years and gives our customers added value, but it was challenging getting all parties to communicate pertinent information in real time to one another since they are all working different shifts in different stores and with different responsibilities,” according to Brian Spearman, SVP of Go-To-Market and Service, PepsiCo North America Beverages.

The company created two new apps that directly impact its distribution system across the U.S., and issued iPhones and iPads to the employees involved.

Mobile Ecosystem
Mobility is a critical component of how many PepsiCo employees do their daily jobs, the nature of which is “on-the-go.”  Spearman says, “They are in the trade of giving our customers top-notch service and ensuring that our vast array of products are on the shelves for our consumers to enjoy. We’re fortunate to have the support and expertise of our internal IT team to make mobility a reality.”

PepsiCo has defined mobility as key plank in executing innovation and growth and was an early adopter of ruggedized mobile technology among its field employees. The company is now in the process of expanding into new business mobility functions and platforms, including devices based on iOS, Android and Windows Mobile.

Outdated Model
The deployment of the iPhone/iPad apps has changed the way the company supplies its approximately 400,000 customers in the U.S. In the past, PepsiCo drivers and merchandisers utilized printed schedules with information on order quantities and tasks to be performed at each outlet.

If a store needed to add to or cancel an order, it was a challenge to accommodate the request in real time because communicating with the delivery drivers was difficult.

This mobile initiative has changed all that. “It’s taken an outdated model and brought it up to speed, allowing us to use top technology to better ensure there are always enough PepsiCo beverages available to consumers. Innovation and productivity are key priorities for our company and this project hits on both,” says Spearman.

He explains that the new apps can be thought of as a “virtual assembly line” which help get product orders from customers, get orders fulfilled by the warehouse, get orders (in the right amount) to customers and to merchandise products in the store in a “timely, simple, updated and collaborative way.”

Field merchandisers in the U.S. (approximately 4,000) are using iPhones and have the “Power4Merch” app to enable them to view schedules, store and display details. Merchandisers are now immediately notified when a driver has arrived at a store and can be sure that deliveries are unloaded quickly and displayed correctly. They can also see store details and account information — they start and end their days on the iPhone.

Field managers in the U.S. (approximately 2,000) are using iPads and the “Manager’s Briefcase” app, which gives them the ability to coordinate and monitor deliveries, schedules and customer contracts; pull up pricing and planograms; and provides electronic versions of all the paperwork and resources they need to manage teams, including store audits, employee coaching forms, and automated notifications to merchandisers.

App Dev
The apps were built entirely in house by PepsiCo’s technology group and are in line with Apple’s standards. Spearman notes, “We received tremendous support from our internal IT team. Their belief in this project and expert skills were critical to its success. We worked with the Apple support team (their ‘evangelists’) to help with any development and deployment issues we had and to bring this project to life.”

The company employs AirWatch mobile device management (MDM) to manage the device profiles, including use policies, configuration parameters and app updates.

Uncapping Benefits
“Our goal was to save each employee who uses these apps approximately 6 hours a week and we’ve been successful at achieving this,” says Spearman.

These apps have already been deployed throughout the North America Beverages division in the U.S. and are currently being rolled out in Canada. In addition, Spearman says that many groups within the company, including IT and supply chain, are always looking at ways to make the systems more innovative and productive. “This project is a strong example of achieving these goals,” he points out.

According to Dimitri Papaevagelou, Territory Sales Manager, PepsiCo North America Beverages, “iPads and iPhones have made life a lot easier — the possibilities are endless...the iPad has become such an integral part of my life, I can’t imaging working without it.”

“We don’t get a lot of game-changers in our industry,” Spearman says, “but iPhone and iPad technology allows for the integration of communication and productivity. We can be more efficient and proactive about problems. The sky’s the limit. We’re very excited about it.”

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