A leading West Australian fresh produce company has created a proof of delivery system that it expects will be a "game-changer" by building confidence and greater transparency in the fruit and vegetable supply chain.
The newly developed Australian app, ‘FreshFinder’ is set to benefit businesses worldwide and will let buyers know when their produce order was picked, when it is ready for dispatch and when it is delivered into their truck bay or warehouse.
Quality Produce International (QPI) services over 300 domestic and international customers, with its Director Damon Watling helping create the FreshFinder app for smartphones that is now available for use by companies across the global industry.
"I came up with the idea after our family ordered locally home-delivered meal kits and after receiving international package deliveries," he said. "The tracking was very good; in the case of overseas deliveries, you can pinpoint exactly where your package is at every stage of the journey. As well, meal-kit deliveries drop the order off and take a photo of it as it arrives, so you know it's there and fresh, helping to manage the cool chain. This transparency in the shipping process really appealed to me. So, I thought we could translate those ideas to strengthen our service to our customers. Our (QPI’s) main goal is to maintain the cool chain; we have the most up-to-date, well-maintained facilities in the Perth, Western Australian markets. We have the largest capacity ripening rooms in Australia and have a reputation for really looking after our produce.”
Mr Watling felt that the best way to implement his ideas was through introducing QR codes to delivery systems which can be scanned at any point in the process and information can be entered such as photographs and produce inventory lists in live time, as well as providing notifications along the way. He says the system can improve time efficiencies and transparency, quickly helping to identify and resolve issues such as missing or damaged produce.
“We might have a buyer that queries an order and suggests that we sent the order a few cartons short or has an item missing altogether," he said. "We can look at the photographs and see if there’s something missing, or that it is there, and there’s just been a simple counting error. We can confirm one way or another straight away. Without the app, we would give the customer the benefit of the doubt and potentially lose that stock. The clarification can save a lot of money. We’re finding wider uses for the app too and already, we’ve had one of our customers come to us and showing interest in using FreshFinder when they deliver to restaurants. For example, the chef may dispute the delivery of an item, when the sous-chef or other colleague has in fact taken the item and is already chopping it up. The photographs and items list again clear discrepancies up."
He explains that it is a simple system to use and once set up, the user opens the FreshFinder app and the camera opens and picks up the QR Code. Then it is just a matter of taking the photo of the produce and sending it to the customer. The customer then receives the photo of their purchase and an itemised delivery note. It is a bespoke process that is designed for the individual business who onboards the system, rather than a 'one size fits all' approach. The fact the technology is incorporated into smartphones, just adds to the convenience for users who are becoming progressively accustomed to contactless sales and delivery in the modern business world.
Interestingly, he is not going to keep FreshFinder private and confidential for his own company. Although it was originally formed under QPI's name, Mr Watling can see the potential in expanding the app across the whole industry and hopes to take FreshFinder global.
"It's something we first developed for competitive advantage, so it may seem strange that we’re suddenly opening it up to others," he said. "There are businesses all over the world that are the same as ours, with the same issues and we are happy to share it within the state for non-competing businesses, outside of Western Australia and internationally. We have established a website to promote FreshFinder, which is the portal for people to go to. It’s a 'business to business' app, and won't be available to the wider public through the Apple app store. For businesses interested in taking advantage of Fresh Finder, the only thing they need to do internally is to apply QR Codes onto individual delivery dockets, which is easily managed by the majority of businesses.”
Other advantages of the system, according to Mr Watling, is the building of trust and relationships between the suppliers and customers. The value in traceability, picking up missing stock and establishing any delays easily pays for the cost of the FreshFinder app.
“If there’s a query with a delivery, our customers know that we’re trying to do the right thing and resolve it for everyone’s benefit," Mr Watling said. "After the customers come in and inspect and buy the produce, they can then see through FreshFinder that what you’re sending out is what they've asked for. They have photo evidence there. Ultimately, you want to look after the produce, the sale doesn't stop once you’ve sent it out to the truck bay or warehouse. The final customer has to have a good experience eating the product. We can only achieve that by managing the cool chain as best we can while the product is in our care. Also, sometimes, we have pickers who may inadvertently put extra stock on a pallet, but with the system, it is easily picked up. Our sales team go through the app after each morning's sales and can identify where this stock has gone."
Any business interested in introducing the system can visit the FreshFinder website. It has more information and contact details to begin the process for the onboarding of the bespoke application. The whole system does not need to be applied to every part of their business; some may only implement certain parts that they need to improve their operations.
"People might question why wholesalers like us would want to share this if it’s so good, but we have nothing to lose by sharing it outside of our individual market in Western Australia,” Mr Watling said. "The main thing is that gaps in the market drive innovation and this is what we’re trying to fill. I think it would be beneficial to an entire business to have a central point where there’s a mechanism where everyone can check-in. It doesn't involve extra work, instead, it has many time and commercial efficiencies for people knowing where their orders are in real-time.”
For more information and contact details: www.freshfinder.com.au