Many are familiar with the popular phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child”. But during the pandemic, another question was posed. Who helps feed the children of the village (a.k.a. your customers)?
Communities around the globe experienced increased health and safety concerns, shortages on vital home goods, and an increase in demand for nearly all products on store shelves. To help sustain ‘the village’, grocers and large supermarkets did everything they could to not only give customers their desired products but to provide them with the best shopping experience possible.
However, grocers faced an additional hurdle; a dwindling labor pool of warehouse and distribution workers on top of health concerns and social distancing restrictions. In order to provide for their communities, and to maintain a positive customer experience, many warehouses turned to advanced ordering systems powered by Artificial Intelligence. While others began to consider automating their distribution processes using advanced robotics solutions.
These two approaches work well to make intralogistics operations lean and, when leveraged together, can prepare food distribution operations for any future disruption. However, one size does not fit all. Many grocers require personalized solutions that work to support their needs, and in turn, the needs of their customers and communities.
Cimcorp, with access to the Muratec Group’s deep pool of technology and solution offerings, can help grocers improve their customer experience and become true members of their communities through the power of automation. By making a match with intelligence platforms and automated distribution systems, grocers can take advantage of three key benefits.
1. Increased efficiency
While picking up your groceries is a simple task, providing consistently fresh produce to grocery stores can be incredibly complex. Grocers have to account for a number of different variables, including seasonal demand, current inventory, and lead time for their distribution networks. As an additional factor, grocers still want to provide affordable produce to their customers, without passing on additional logistical costs at the checkout counter.
Automated systems that leverage the power of AI are powerful tools to help increase the efficiency of operations. Cutting-edge warehouse distribution systems can store, retrieve, and distribute fresh produce at faster rates than manual picking, increasing resilience along every part of the supply chain.
Coupling automation with AI allows greater visibility for inventory management, which allows grocers to prepare for seasonal demand spikes on different items. This increased visibility can reduce waste and costly order mistakes while increasing revenue and customer satisfaction.
These solutions can also help keep your operations clean as a whistle! Automated systems can clear the entire storage floor for easy cleaning, which is important for hygiene. Especially in the fresh food industry so customers experience no delays for their fresh produce.
Being a member of the community means more than providing high-quality service. True community members are always looking to make their operations cleaner and more energy-efficient to help promote a sustainable ecosystem. This usually means reducing product waste, streamlining operations to be leaner, and looking for options to ‘green up’ the customer experience.
Thankfully, ‘going green’ with automation is easy to do. In automated distribution centers, produce and other products are delivered via reusable containers rather than traditional cardboard crates. These containers can be used again and again, reducing the grocery distribution’s potential waste.
Sustainability means more than making operations green. Grocers will need to make their supply chain operations long-lasting, even in the face of labor shortages across the warehousing sector. Keeping operations sustainable helps your business stay a valued member of the community while keeping you prepared for whatever disruptions may affect customers. Be sure to stay tuned to the Cimcorp blog for more on sustainability in the near future.
3. Planning for E-Commerce
Many supermarket chains were caught by surprise when pick-up and delivery services quickly became customer demands in 2020 and 2021. Even now, grocery curbside pick-up and delivery services are dominating the retail market and are expected to expand even further over the course of the next few years.
For many businesses in this space, the answer has been to move away from large distribution warehouses and to move towards smaller micro-fulfillment centers powered by automated systems. These smaller warehouses are perfect for streamlining delivery services to help customers receive fresher products, faster.
Automation can also help grocers adopt new trends, like the sale of fresh produce in individually sealed and packaged containers. In addition to reducing the waste and headache of packaging loose produce for delivery or pick-up, these packaging techniques can also decrease the risk of contamination and disease for any health safety concerns. Some studies show that these trends can even result in a higher turnover on products thanks to catchy packaging.
To have access to truly global solutions, grocers should turn to a well-connected integrator like Cimcorp, who can provide personally tailored solutions for any operation. Cimcorp can implement automated solutions to work alongside AI management systems, and can also design its systems around either new or existing structures, offering the same level of flexibility that grocers offer to their customers.
Why fall in love with automation
To help foster their communities and truly become local leaders, grocers need to strongly consider the benefits of automation and AI-powered solutions. Cimcorp understands the need to provide global solutions at the local level and is committed to making sure your customers have the best possible experience at your storefronts.
At Cimcorp, we strive to provide solutions that truly make a difference for the end customer, promoting grocers as true members of the community with innovative solutions to their distribution problems. With our help, you can streamline all your inventory, keeping shelves fully stocked and emptied within one day, all in one go, providing food on the table for all the communities you support.
Author Derek Rickard
Your supply chain strategy, our intralogistics solution
So where should you start? We can help simplify and increase the efficiency of your materials flow to get you prepared for the retail world of tomorrow.