Deli XL explores fresh markets for fresh food with Google Apps for Work

Editor's note: Today we hear from Rene van Gelderen, CIO at Deli XL, a wholesale food supplier and distributor based in Ede, The Netherlands. Deli XL’s 2,000 employees work round the clock, seven days a week to deliver fresh groceries to the country’s restaurants, hospitals, retirement homes and company canteens. Read how Deli XL is using Google Apps for Work to lead change in their business and connect their nationwide team.

At Deli XL, what you order today, we deliver tomorrow, whether it’s fresh fish, purple mustard or any of the other 70,000 items we have available for ordering. With 700,000 order lines each week from 20,000 customers nationwide, we need to work together efficiently to keep this 24-hour promise.

And when we decided to focus even more on hotels and restaurants and shift to the ecommerce model to adapt to client demands and changing business needs, we needed the tools that could help us do that even better.

Google Apps helped us overhaul our business model with minimal disruption. Our old email system was functional, but too slow to satisfy the demands of ecommerce. Gmail is fast, remotely accessible, and, along with Calendar, makes it simple to work together across our 15 sites. Google+ was also invaluable during this time. We knew rolling out complex new structures in our financial- and warehouse-management systems was going to cause significant stress. So as we deployed new systems, we posted constant updates on Google+ so everyone could keep track and discover the new tools together.

Now we use Google+ to solve problems in all areas of Deli XL, business and IT problems alike. For example, one Saturday morning, an account manager reported an issue with our ecommerce system. Previously, she would have called the weekend service desk and waited until Monday morning for a response. By posting the issue on Google+, I could immediately see that it was serious and brought our offshore developers in India into the discussion. Using Google Translate to interpret our Dutch, they had a solution ready for Monday morning, saving 1,000 customers from experiencing major disruption.

Google+ is far more effective than spending time on the phone: basic IT problems can be solved in seconds by non-IT staff; account managers share advice on how to fill unclear customer orders, and employees air difficult questions that might otherwise never be asked. After one major problem, during which we posted frequent updates on Google+, I carried out a survey. In the past, similar situations would always elicit complaints about communication, but for this survey, 97% of respondents expressed strong satisfaction with how we communicated during the incident.

Each of our 1,000 desk workers has a Google account, and now we’re connecting our 500 drivers and 500 order pickers, too. This opens up tremendous new possibilities for us. On every job, drivers keep track of the crates used to carry goods. Rather than do this by hand and deliver the slips to the Finance department, they’ll be able to keep track of the crates in Forms and eliminate the paper trail. Also, by having drivers check in and out of destinations on Forms, we’ll be able to tell customers where their delivery is and if it will be late, at a fraction of the cost of a GPS solution.

Over ninety percent of our order lines now come from online business, and we’ve made the transition into the hotel, restaurant and cafe market without any loss in revenues. In addition to savings due to faster troubleshooting, stronger cross-team communications and delivery tracking, our CFO calculates that using Drive storage will save up to €100,000 a year, once we retire our old file servers. And behind the numbers, all the extra communication is making us more of a team: with a Hangout group on each company site, no one needs to miss out when we share birthday cake.