NEW YORK: PepsiCo, the food and beverage giant, believes Apple's iPhone and iPad constitute a "game changer" for its distribution system and relationships with retailers and merchandisers.

The firm's drinks arm runs 17,000 distribution routes across North America every day, and has adopted Apple's smartphones and tablets, plus a range of apps built internally, to improve its capabilities.

Brian Spearman, senior vice president, go-to-market and service, PepsiCo North American Beverages, revealed it was "very, very excited" about the advantages these tools could bring.

"We don't get a lot of game-changers in our industry, but we think iPhone and iPad technology is absolutely a game-changer for us, both in terms of communication and service and in productivity.

"With [the] iPhone and iPad, we can be more efficient and get in front of problems before they even happen."

As an example, senior staff at PepsiCo's beverage unit can now employ iPad apps to track current performance levels, as well as looking at pricing and contract details.

The Manager's Briefcase app also lets territory sales managers access digital versions of key documents from store audits to employee coaching details, and automatically send notifications to merchandisers.

"Life before was all about being on the phone, checking email in the office, checking paperwork. Now with iPad, managers can start and end the day where they need to be, with their team," said Mark Uppaluri, director of selling systems for PepsiCo North America Beverages.

Similarly, the SPOTLight app empowers executives to view vital information from PepsiCo's SharePoint corporate collaboration system.

"I can pull out pricing, display planograms, customer development agreements, new contracts - you name it," said Dimitri Papaevagelou, Territory Sales Manager, PepsiCo North America Beverages.

Rather than using printed schedules with order detail for each outlet, the firm's drivers now deploy iPhone apps, which allow stores to update or cancel orders "on the fly".

The Power4Merch app developed by PepsiCo, and working on the iPhone, also automatically notifies retailers when they arrive at branches, enhancing efficiency levels.

"It has an electronic timecard, and they can see their schedule, the store details, the account profiles, and everything they need to know to service the store," said Uppaluri.

Data sourced from Apple; additional content by Warc staff