It is an ongoing nightmare for many small bakeries. Small bakeries do not bring big profits anymore and it is an everyday thought if they can keep their professional existence. They cannot compete with the cheap discounter chains which produce by the score. How are they supposed to pay for their ingredients and employees if they lower the prices as low as the discounters? Many customers taste the difference between fresh bread and discounter bread but the prices are decisive.
Use of the own advantage
“The only thing how we can convince costumers to be loyal to our bakeries, is the individual customer service as well as the face-to-face service” explains Markus Zimmermann, boss of the traditional bakery in Cologne. He continues “Quality and individual service that is what people want. Costumers come from far away or want it to be send to them not only because it tastes better but also because they value the personal factor. Discounters try to imitate the bakery smell but right here people see the difference and appreciate the traditional bakery trade. We still have time for smalltalk and little conversations and regular customers expect us to take our time and to provide a good service.” Personal care, customized baking goods and opening hours on sun- and holidays are appreciated from the costumers. Is that enough to convince people to use more traditional bakeries again? It is unknown how the bread industry will evolve in the future. In the meantime, the most important thing for the smaller businesses is to plan as productively as possible and to avoid unnecessary expenses.
A financial deficit for small bakeries is the reorder of ingredients
Reorders in discounter chain bakeries are fully automatic and computer-operated. They will always have enough ingredients to never be in a production shortage. In most small, traditional bakeries it is still common to reorder with handwritten notes. The staff needs to look up the article as well as the order number in a catalogue and write it down if more ingredients are needed. All these handwritten and disordered notes go to the boss who is in charges of ordering. With all the dirt, twisted numbers and illegible writing it is almost impossible to transmit the needed ingredients faultlessly. Too many or wrong products cause additional costs and damage the traditional bakeries even more.
Mobil data capture for the reduction of expanses
There needs to be a working interface between the people who order and those who are on charge of supplying. A possible solution would be AutoID- reordering with a barcode detection system. PANMOBIL wants to take care of the order difficulties for traditional bakeries. The AutoID experts from Cologne developed the powerlineECCO, a four button barcode scanner which orders automatically without difficulties or mistakes. Employees in the bakery as well as in the sales department can check what is missing and scan the certain product as often as needed. The employee uses the device and scans the missing ingredient (e.g. a sack of flour) with the plus button. The other possibility is to scan the barcode in one of the drawers where all barcode labels for each ingredient are collected. It is a really fast and easy process and employees do not have to interrupt their work for long. The person who is in charges plugs the scanner into a USB-Docking-Station, which is connected to a computer, right before the shift ends. The person who is in charge of reordering sees what is needed and can control everything again before he confirms the order. The device will send all the needed information to a web shop from the supplier who will take care of the rest.
Automation: Fighting the discounters with their own weapons
There are other advantages for traditional bakeries besides the automatic ordering system. It is necessary to optimize the production as much as in the bigger chains and to compete with their strict organizational policy. It is also important that goods are marked with their particular barcodes before they end up in the warehouse. It is really easy to get an overview since the scanner is Wifi connected and sends all the stock information to an inventory control system. This is also important for the outgoing goods which show the exact amount of sold items. Regular stock inventories are done quite easily with the AutoID-system. Employees do not have to spend too much time on maintenance and management. They can concentrate on more important things now e.g. the personal customer service. Besides the higher quality that is one of the only advantages left against discounter. Time will tell if things like the AutoID will help traditional bakeries out of their misery. What is clear is that intern processes help to save money. Losses through shortfall quantity and wrong decisions do not harm the economical result but optimize the production process.