Paper vs. Paperless in DSD

Paper vs. Paperless in DSD



My first Direct Store Delivery (DSD) field ride started at 2am. I have to admit that I was not as sharp and keen as I am at 7am. However, one part of the operators routine did strike me as surprising in those early morning hours. I was curious about the multiple trips between the store, delivery truck, store receiving area, and then another trip to the truck. The final trip to the truck revealed a piece of hardware not mentioned in my previous discussions. The mobile printer.


He was printing a invoice? It needed to be signed? Surely, when the manufacturer upgrades their DSD solution to a tablet, the mobile printers days are numbered. Not so fast…. Let’s discuss Paper based vs. Electronic systems.


One of the upcoming and inevitable digital transformations in the DSD space is the replacement of paper-based systems (mobile printers) with electronic alternatives. Many DSD companies either equip their in-field personnel with mobile printers or have an equivalent manual or paper-based process in their back office.


Considerations for Manual and/or paper-based processes (mobile printers)

  • Printing every invoice is highly inefficient

  • The cost of purchase and maintenance of hardware is high

  • Using additional hardware adds more points of failure in the process

  • Hardware failures slow down the delivery process

  • Paper invoices can be lost or misplaced

  • Printers are proven to work, even if they aren't perfect

Replacing paper-based systems with Electronic Systems:

  • Email, web portals, and app-based systems are faster

  • DSD apps can produce and send receipts via email

  • The cost is limited to software purchasing/development, no recurring hardware costs for supplies/broken printers

  • Customers can instantly access their invoices online

In the spirit of full disclosure, my company is currently helping a major manufacturer upgrade their DSD capabilities. They are building their own DSD software solution utilizing consumer devices in the field. They will be choosing to stay with a paper based process for their invoices/receipts. It is what is right for them at this time.


However, as electronic approaches become easier for both retailers and suppliers, and the call to reduce waste and eliminate paper records grows, it is highly likely that electronic systems will become the standard.


Ready to go paperless? Already doing it? How are you going about it? Are mobile printers still the best path for your organization? Tell us why. Let’s start a conversation.


You can even send me your thoughts on paper if you like. But I'll probably just scan them and create an electronic document! Let’s start!

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