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End-to-end grocery automation and partnership

Distribution distribution center fresh food grocery retail

Today’s grocery retailers strive to provide a consistent supply of high-quality fresh food products through end-to-end grocery automation. This approach is crucial for driving sales and customer satisfaction as consumer demand continues to grow in the fresh categories.

64% of grocery retail executives say fresh food is the most strategically important department for their company’s sales growth plan over the next 12-36 months.

Deloitte report “Fresh Food at the Intersection of Trust and Transparency”

Optimizing end-to-end material flow in fresh food distribution

Automated solutions for grocery distribution can handle products from the moment they enter the warehouse or distribution center (DC), ensuring optimal efficiency and quality control. Advanced software and robotic hardware work together to control the entire flow of the facility from one end to the other. These solutions optimize everything from receiving, storage, and inventory management to picking, packaging, palletization, and the delivery of products out the door.

Addressing distribution challenges with automation

Manual handling inefficiencies, rising costs, and labor issues are all creating major challenges in the fresh food distribution network. To stay ahead, retailers are exploring comprehensive fresh food automation as a better, faster way to enhance their distribution process, focusing on modular automated solutions for scalability and flexibility.

Combining technology and partnership for success

While automation projects can be a big undertaking, the right approach makes all the difference. Grocery retailers can ensure a successful automation journey by combining the best of end-to-end material handling technology with the strength of a long-term collaborative partnership.

Scalability and flexibility with modular automation

While end-to-end grocery automation offers big benefits, automating does not have to be “all or nothing.” Modular automated solutions are available that offer a high level of scalability and flexibility. Grocery retailers can first automate processes that will generate the biggest impact, then gradually introduce automation modules in other areas to fit their needs.

Adam Gurga, Sales Manager at Cimcorp North-America, said, “Many Cimcorp customers automate from end to end so the product comes through the door and gets handed right over to our system. When the product comes out, it’s ready to go right down to the store level. Other customers want to start small, first addressing a challenging area like case picking. We can expand over time thanks to our unique modular automation solutions.”

Key takeaway

Successful end-to-end grocery distribution automation requires a balanced approach that combines advanced technological solutions with a strong focus on partnership and collaboration.

This dual emphasis ensures that retailers not only implement effective systems but also receive the ongoing support needed to adapt and thrive in a dynamic market.

Trust and collaboration at every step

Technology is only half of the equation for automation success. The second half is partnership. Grocery retailers should look for an automation vendor that also serves as a dedicated end-to-end partner—from initial assessments all the way through project delivery and into lifetime support.

This end-to-end approach to partnership can be broken down into four key stages:

Assessment for end-to-end grocery automation


Project fundamentals

The process starts with an initial capabilities assessment and needs analysis. Here the provider demonstrates what falls within their wheelhouse, and the customer shares how material currently flows through their facility and where their biggest pain points exist. The goal is to make sure both organizations are the right fit for each other, then they’ll work together to identify what areas to address and where to get started.



The provider then walks the client through their recommendations and the expected ROI. Customers typically think of ROI in terms of efficiency gains, which lower the total cost to move a case from one side of the facility to the other. But it’s also important to cover how automation will generate ROI beyond the walls of the DC. One key factor to consider is future growth. By maximizing capacity and throughput, one DC can serve an increasingly larger network size. This will help the client grow its business without having to spend millions on building a whole new distribution facility.


Working environments

Another source of ROI is improved safety. Adam explained, “Cimcorp’s solutions improve ergonomics and workplace safety. This directly correlates to a reduction in workers’ comp and insurance payments. Plus, safer working environments aid in employee satisfaction and retention, which is crucial in today’s tight labor markets where it’s very challenging and very costly to bring on new employees.”


Custom system design and mutual learning

Next, the provider develops and finalizes the system design with customer input all along the way. The provider explains which processes they will take on, how they calculate metrics like pick rates, how they’re designing the end-to-end flow, and what specific technology will be used. With full transparency from the get-go, the customer comes out of the process with full confidence in the proposed solution.

According to Adam, it’s a mutual learning process. He said, “Cimcorp has installed countless solutions over the years, but every customer is unique. They have different needs and focuses. They serve different regions and different industries. So for each project, we’re learning about their business while they’re learning about our automation.”



Towards seamless collaboration

A safe, smooth, on-time installation requires close collaboration across interdisciplinary teams. Project managers, customer support personnel, service teams, and software experts all work together to deploy the ideal solution for the client.


Alignment and training for handoff

Stakeholders across both organizations also need to stay closely aligned as implementation progresses. DC employees will be trained on optimal system usage and maintenance. By the time installation, commissioning, and handoff are complete, the client is fully educated and ready to take over running the system.

Post-sales support and beyond

Once the solution is up and running, the provider makes sure the system delivers the expected results. Adam explained, “It’s super important to have that feedback loop at the end of the system delivery. We make sure that we’re meeting the promises that we set in the beginning.”

In a true end-to-end partnership, the partnership never really ends. The partner will offer long-term support through uptime services, which include repairs, replacements, and preventive maintenance for maximum system uptime. They will also propose modernizations and technology upgrades as business needs change over time, keeping distribution operations running smoothly and supporting the client’s goals long into the future.

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