Direct Store Delivery: Part 2 - Best Practices of Grocery Direct Store Delivery

Direct store delivery (DSD), boiled down to its simplest form, is the means of delivering goods from a supplier, brand or manufacturer straight to the store. 

We covered the ins and outs of DSD in part 1, comparing it to the more traditional retailer warehouse model. As it turns out, the DSD system has several benefits which makes product shipments more efficient, cost effective and speedy.

If you’ve not yet read that article, or you’d like to brush up on your knowledge of DSD distribution systems, we’d recommend starting there.  

When you’re done, come back here. Because in part 2, we’re cranking it up a notch. You’ll learn all about the best practices of DSD and how to get it right. We’re here to help your CPG brand flourish.

Who is DSD most suitable for?

Before we dive into the how-to’s of DSD, we thought we’d cover the types of businesses that are best suited to the model. 

Small/Indie retail

DSD is ideal for smaller shops. Independent stores may not have the centralized distribution system in place. If they do, you can bet it’s eating away at their bottom line. Offering to remove the warehouse costs and reduce their labor requirement would be something they couldn’t refuse. It’s a great way to get your product into loads of smaller or indie retailers. 

City center stores

Stores situated in the inner city tend to have less storage space. They therefore require frequent replenishment, especially for high-volume products. Convenience stores, drug stores and the like, are good examples of retailers who would suit this innovative system. Finding new ways to reduce costs and create a more sustainable business model is key in such a competitive climate.  


One of the primary concerns of a fresh-produce store is the shelf-life of their products. Freshness is key. Especially for customers who are shopping with their health in mind. Sell one moldy blueberry and it could cost the retailer a loyal customer. The DSD model allows for greengrocers to replenish just one product, rather than waiting for an entire delivery.

Now if the blueberries go moldy, they’ve got a backup plan.

Best practices for grocery DSD

If you’re considering switching to a DSD model for your brand, here’s some checkpoints for you to work through in preparation: 

Create a demand profile

Analyze the sales data for your product with the retailers you’re currently working with. What do their orders typically look like? How frequent are they? What are the volumes? Working from data can help you with accurate forecasting, helping you to get the right amount of products into a store.

Refine your sales strategy

Gather your top sales reps and delivery drivers to work out the best strategy to get your products into the ultimate stores. Why are the drivers involved in the sales, you ask? They’re still the face of your brand. If retailers aren’t receiving friendly and helpful customer service from your drivers, they won’t be happy.

That could cost you a partner.

Optimize your routes

You want to distribute your food or beverage product into stores in the most efficient way possible. You don’t want to deliver to store B, to drive back to store A, before getting to store C. That’s a waste of time, petrol and man-power. 

Some routing factors to consider:

  • Which trucks should deliver on what route, at what time?
  • How long does it take to fulfill a shipment in one store?
  • What are the retailers’ delivery windows?
  • Are there any good shortcuts you’ve missed?
  • Can we reduce the number of trucks on the road at any point?
  • Are you complying with the DSD state regulations?

Use a transportation management system

Businesses will theoretically plan each stage of the supply chain. However, once it gets put into practice, you’ll need to make sure that it flows well, coming together in a smooth and cohesive way. 

A transportation management system (TMS) grants you a broad overview of your supply chain, as well as shipment optimization, business intelligence and other valuable assets. 

Businesses which integrate a TMS typically gain a competitive advantage as they can use it to lower costs, become more efficient and overcome hurdles as they arise. 

Embrace technology

The more tech the merrier. It enables fast and clear communications between teams. However, don’t just employ technology for the sake of it. The key is to ensure that the tech is well integrated. Disparate, disjointed systems could hinder, rather than help. 

On the other hand, a connected technology environment will enable automated information exchange between applications. Organization will save you bundles of time, and time is money. Here is some vital software which we’d recommend to keep your business running efficiently:

  • An enterprise resource planning system (ERP)
  • A communication platform used by all crucial roles within the supply chain — permitting drivers, retailers and plant managers to stay in touch
  • An app to track stock keeping units — add and reconcile several barcodes at drop-off points, without the need for additional scanning equipment 

Employ an experienced food & beverage logistics partner

Last, but by no means least, you’ll need to find the right logistics partner. It’s important to find one who is an expert within your product niche. Whether you’re manufacturing organic foods, candy or TV dinners, there will be a distributor suited to you. 

This way, you’ll rest assured that they’ll already have all the relevant or specialist equipment to handle your goods. They’ll be well-versed in orders, tracking, shipping, billing... you name it! You can be confident that the DSD process can run smoothly, so that the retailers and your customers will never be kept waiting. 

Here at Buffalo Market, we’re helping to bring new CPG brands to market every day. As the leading distributor for products that are aligned with the changing worlds, we’re excited to hear about your product. 

If your product is doing good for the earth, or good for people, we want to hear from you. Get in touch today and we’ll see how we can help get your food or beverage products into the right retailers. 

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