Invafresh was at the IDDBA 2023 expo last week showcasing how our AI-enhanced Fresh Retail Platform is purpose-built to address the challenges of dairy, deli, and bakery departments. Like with all Fresh grocery operations, dairy, deli, and bakery are unique and are much more challenging for retailers to optimize when compared to center store operations.
Fresh departments possess three key factors that contribute to their uniqueness and complexity:
The enemy of Fresh is time. The countdown begins when products are meticulously crafted, carefully packaged, and thoughtfully placed on the shelf. To avoid lost revenue and prevent unnecessary food waste, it is imperative to synchronize operations with customer demand. Real-time data becomes an invaluable resource due to the time-sensitive nature of Fresh operations, narrowing the window of opportunity for swift decision-making.
While it is unlikely to hear someone exclaim, “I can’t wait to return to my favorite grocer for a package of pasta,” customers are willing to go the extra mile for exceptional meal kits, artisanal bread, or meticulously curated charcuterie board ingredients. In this ever-evolving landscape, retailers face new and exciting merchandising challenges in the Fresh domain. They must channel their creativity to enhance the customer’s experience through innovative fresh food offerings, ensuring that every visit leaves a lasting impression and entices customers to return for more.
Making matters more challenging, the most impactful Fresh food offerings entail intricate production processes that go well beyond the simple act of stocking shelves. Gaining a deep understanding of these complex processes and effectively managing demand fluctuations upon shelf placement becomes an indispensable element for achieving success in the Fresh departments. Retailers must navigate a labyrinth of logistics, supply chains, and production timelines to ensure that the right products are available at the right time, while maintaining the highest standards of freshness and quality.
From our time at IDDBA 2023, our three takeaways really center around the evolution of the consumer and how retailers are adapting:
The grocery retail industry is undergoing a profound transformation driven by technological advancements. Tech-savvy consumers, coupled with the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence and robotics, are reshaping the industry’s landscape. At IDDBA 2023, it was abundantly clear that automation was at the forefront of many retailers’ minds as they sought to augment their finite labor resources with cutting-edge technologies like the Bread Bot and Baker Bot. Moreover, grocery retail has seamlessly transitioned into an omnichannel business, necessitating the deployment of robust strategies that effectively engage customers through a multitude of digital and physical touchpoints. As retailers navigate this ever-changing landscape, the ability to accurately forecast and predict customer demand becomes a paramount challenge. Looking ahead, personalization will emerge as a key driver in retailers’ merchandising mix, enabling them to cater to the unique preferences and tastes of individual customers.
The post-pandemic era has witnessed a seismic shift in consumer shopping behaviors, with an increased emphasis on convenience and healthy options. In the past, “Grab & Go” meals were often associated with highly processed, nutritionally deficient fare. However, this perception has undergone a remarkable transformation. Consumers no longer wish to compromise their health and well-being for the sake of convenience. At IDDBA 2023, a dazzling array of home ready meal kits took center stage, providing customers with the ultimate combination of convenience and nutrition. These thoughtfully crafted meal kits have become a beacon of hope for consumers seeking quick, hassle-free meals
The imperative topics of food waste, sustainability, and ESG considerations captured the collective attention at IDDBA 2023. Today’s consumers are increasingly conscious of their impact on the environment and demand that retailers respond accordingly. As a result, retailers are proactively embracing sustainable practices and technologies to reduce food waste and eliminate single-use plastics. From advanced tracking systems that minimize waste through better inventory management to eco-friendly packaging solutions, retailers are taking significant strides to reduce their carbon footprint and fulfill their environmental responsibilities. Furthermore, as customers intensify their call for action, and governments tighten their regulatory oversight over the food industry, sustainability will undoubtedly ascend as a top priority for retailers, reshaping the way they source, package, and deliver fresh products.
With a resounding success, the IDDBA 2023 event drew more than 9,000 attendees from across the globe. It provided us with a remarkable platform to connect with our valued customers, forge new relationships with grocery retailers, and engage in thought-provoking conversations on the multifaceted landscape of Fresh. As we continue to navigate the dynamic challenges of the industry, we remain committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation, embracing convenience without compromising quality, and leading the charge towards a more sustainable future for the grocery retail industry.