Dairies have experienced massive product supply disruptions over the past few years. Typical are distribution issues, out of stocks, over stocks and additional labor required to input data manually into the ordering system, much of which is caused by inaccurate customer orders.

Modesto, Calif.-based Crystal Creamery, California’s oldest dairy and one of the few in the Western United States active in milk, butter, powder, cultured and ice cream, faced these common inventory challenges prior to the pandemic. The fact the company management worked to solve the issues then helped them manage store-level inventories much better than most of their competitors during the lockdowns. It also positions them to come out of the pandemic more rapidly and with higher retail service levels.

Crystal Creamery, which operates a high volume, high efficiency facility in Modesto, another plant in Fernbridge, Humboldt County, and two farms with more than 6,200 cows in the Central Valley, understands the importance of having product in the case whenever and wherever consumers want it. The company has retail customers throughout California and has deployed several processes to ensure that each of those clients has enough product to sell at all times.

To bring more precision to inventory levels throughout the extended retail supply chain, Crystal Creamery turned to technology to improve the accuracy of its demand forecasts and enhance collaboration with it partners. The company also needed to update its ordering solutions to accommodate the myriad of systems supermarkets, convenience store and other food retailers are using. Specifically, Crystal Creamery deployed ReposiTrak’s Store-level Ordering and Store-level Replenishment solutions to optimize the orders at store-level demand forecasting for regular turn merchandise and promotional products. 

The solutions also allow for time and labor savings for both the retailers and Crystal Creamery.  “The time saved is about 20 minutes per delivery,” said Jim O’Shea, national accounts director at Crystal Creamery. “That is a game changer!”

“This also reduces the number of invoices due to the consolidation of orders which is a time saver in our A/R department,” O’Shea said. “Finally, the amount of time our team spent adjusting orders, including weekends, is eliminated.  This allows them to get into the retailers and catch up with the key contacts as well as work with and train the team to execute better.”

ReposiTrak’s Store-level Replenishment helps the dairy identify current and predicted out of stocks at the shelf level, reduce out of stocks, increase sales because they have the right product on the shelves and improve promotion execution and effectiveness. Store-level Ordering draws on daily point of sale (POS) and other data points, along with historical sales, to enable Crystal Creamery to deliver the right amount at each and every store. The process removes the ambiguity of ‘institution knowledge’ from the ever-changing personnel at store level and replaced it data that historical data that creates the orders to address the cyclical nature of fresh foods accurately. 

“Our team in order entry no longer has to key in adjustments,” said Joe DiMaggio, Key Account Manager at Crystal Creamery.  “This saves hours per week, and the orders are tighter which lowers shrink.”  DiMaggio added, “The holiday scheduling flexibility is a huge asset. Waiting on customer orders did not allow us to plan more than three days in advance.  We can now plan much further out if needed.  We should have done this a long time ago.”

“Working with Crystal and their retailers has been wonderful” says Joe Meherg, Senior Vice President and Partner at ReposiTrak. “Crystal is a great partner.  We are able to make adjustments based on their unique circumstances that have made the solution better for all.”

After using the solution for more than a year, DiMaggio said, “This new system is a great relief and an asset in many ways. The back rooms are cleaner than ever, the rotation is improving, and the shrink is way down.”