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The Role of Technology in the Food Retail Industry

By Published On: March 24, 2021

The advancement of technology in the food retail sector in 2020 has significantly helped retailers survive one of the most tumultuous times of our lives. Technology has greatly alleviated food retailers’ problems in terms of order and fulfillment, supply chain management, and other major business processes.

This year, it is expected that technology will have a key role in the food retail industry as we continue to battle the winding effects of the pandemic.

Expediting Online Fulfillment Through Technology

The advent of digitalization undeniably accelerated how we do things in food retail. From manual brick and mortar stores, several retailers have jumped into automating their processes to meet the needs of the times. One of those needs is to meet the demands for timely and effective online fulfillment. Depending on the store size and bulk of orders, automation can help expedite fulfillment by integrating it into their workflow. A handheld device or wearable technology could be used by workers to assist them in picking up orders in-store aisles or roving robots that help in getting orders and provide real-time data.

Likewise, grocers could step up their automation through micro-fulfillment systems, distribution centers, or through building dark stores that house best-selling goods and caters exclusively for online orders. Dark stores could be attached to a store or a separate facility integrated with automated systems for maximum fulfillment efficiency. This format gained popularity in Europe and is beginning to gain interest here in the U.S.

Omnichannel Experience Wins Big

Consumers want to shop whenever, wherever, and however, they want. That’s why a true omnichannel experience is a key to succeeding in a post-pandemic food retail world. Due to the abrupt changes in shopping behavior, shoppers are keen to explore ways to shop whether in-store, online or through a method commonly known as “buy online pick up in-store” or BOPIS. According to Nielsen’s report, omnichannel shopping has increased by 50% in 2020. The seamless integration of e-commerce in-store operations if done right could not just boom store profits but also take hold of the long-term customer relationship.

Data is a Valuable Asset

Aside from grocers investing in assets such as display cases that have value for money and refrigeration systems that are reliable, another valuable asset that grocers should take advantage of is data. Whether it’s consumer or supply chain data, a data-driven strategy is a strategy that is precise, targeted, and set-up for success. Data, when collected and analyzed well, drive enterprise strategies and is useful for supply chain management, business process improvement, and identifying problem areas. Likewise, consumer data can be used for personalized marketing, customized promotion, and knowing which products are selling well in specific channels.  

Technology continues to enable businesses to improve their processes in the food retail sector. It is an exciting time for the industry as this just shows how innovation can and has shaped the way we run our businesses shedding light for a bright future ahead.