From paper to digital: The transition of a small Dairy Delivery Business

Updated: Dec 16, 2021


Photo by Leon Ephraïm on Unsplash


This study is taking a look into a typical SME and their traditional paper-based way of working; focusing on the barriers they face both daily and in the long-term, as well as the process of taking on a new digital system.


A Brief Background

Let’s take a look at a small Dairy distributor based in the South West of England.


They have been running for decades, servicing both local retailers, convenience stores, and some of the local community as well. They take their orders either by telephone, text, or email, and they filter these orders in with the routine orders that they have set up with various retailers in their delivery radius. They have 4 drivers that work a 6-day-week, and they plan each day’s delivery schedules using pen & paper, before handing this over to their drivers.


Each day, their drivers make their deliveries, taking paper records of deliveries, any additional items and stock changes not as per the scheduled orders are noted, and at the end of the day these reports are brought back to the offices.


From here, their team of 4 office staff organise the reports and manually prepare invoices before finishing for the day.


Day-to-day, this business has to plan routes, control stock manually, file invoices, complete admin tasks and respond to customers manually.


This paints a picture of a roundabout that never stops.


The Challenges

When the business first started, using paper was the only option, it was easy and everything was manageable. As they have grown over time, they quickly began to pick up new orders from surrounding areas, and so they recruited 2 more drivers to handle this additional demand.


With a larger delivery radius, planning routes effectively naturally took longer, and amongst handling administrative tasks, keeping the business organised, and managing customer enquiries manually, the management of their operation became more challenging.


On top of this, their small offices had begun to experience issues with filing space, and at the end of the day, organising and reviewing all of the orders for the day began taking a lot longer than it had done previously.