May 15, 2024

Enabling real-time visibility: How a retail leader transformed Direct Store Delivery with Microsoft Fabric


Imagine managing 25,000 frontline employees across 500,000 weekly store visits—all crucial for your business's 90% revenue. In this high-stakes environment, even minor inefficiencies in your Direct Store Delivery (DSD) network can ripple outwards, leading to missed delivery windows, frustrated store managers, and ultimately, lost sales.

Blind spots and fragmented data

This was the reality for a leading retail chain. Limited visibility into their vast DSD operation hampered their ability to deliver exceptional customer service. Here's how it played out:

      •   Missed delivery windows:
Traditional tracking systems lacked real-time insights, making it impossible to proactively address delays and ensure on-time deliveries.
      •   Frustrated store managers:
Fragmented data across disparate systems made communication and issue resolution cumbersome, leading to frustration amongst store personnel.
      •   Wasted resources & increased costs:
Without a holistic view, optimizing delivery routes for their 18,000 routes was a challenge. This inefficiency translated to wasted resources and increased operational costs.


Figure 1: Architecture diagram

The real-time solution

We implemented a real-time Track and Trace system powered by Microsoft Fabric, acting as the central nervous system for their DSD network. Here's how it works:

      •   Apache Kafka - The data backbone:
Imagine a constantly flowing river of data—location updates, inventory scans, order status changes, and so onstreaming in from route sales representatives' devices, warehouse management systems, and more. Apache Kafka acts as this data backbone, continuously capturing millions of data points every week, even for their massive network.
      •   Microsoft Fabric - Unifying the data stream:
Microsoft Fabric seamlessly integrates this data stream, creating a single source of truth. It's like having a central command center with a complete picture of everything happening across the DSD operation, from order creation to final delivery.
      •   Real-time analytics with KQL:
Fabric's real-time analytics engine, powered by KQL, continuously analyzes this data with a refresh frequency of seconds. This is akin to having a team of analysts constantly monitoring the system, identifying potential issues and delays before they snowball.
      •   Power BI integration:
Interactive dashboards built with Power BI empower stakeholders to visualize order flow, identify anomalies, and track key performance indicators (KPIs) in real-time. It's like having a transparent window into the entire DSD operation, allowing for informed decision-making at every level.

Measurable success

      •   15% reduction in delivery delays:
Real-time insights empowered proactive intervention, leading to a significant decrease in missed delivery windows and happier store managers.
      •   Data-driven route optimization:
Optimized 18,000 routes, boosting operational efficiency and resource allocation for the 25,000 employees.
      •   Proactive issue management:
Real-time alerts and notifications enabled proactive problem identification and mitigation, minimizing disruptions and improving overall customer satisfaction.

Is your DSD operation stuck in the past? Contact to see how a real-time Track and Trace system powered by Microsoft Fabric can transform your business, improve customer satisfaction, and unlock significant cost savings. for any further inquiries.