There is a contemporary trend of food retailers looking to software solutions to expand beyond their brick-and-mortar channels. Technologies are being leveraged to allow for a completely web-based ordering and procurement system, revolutionizing the way consumers obtain goods. Forward-thinking entities in the grocery retail sector are reaping tremendous rewards by offering convenient online ordering and same-day delivery of grocery items at no or minimal extra costs to the consumer.
There are myriad software solutions used in supply chain, retail and grocery sectors that can be used to enhance and refine operations to accommodate this new trend. Specifically, developing, integrating and implementing custom software solutions including but not limited to custom mobile applications, Order Management Systems (OMS), Inventory Management Systems (IMS), Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), fleet management platforms, plus business intelligence and analytics allow entities to gain a competitive edge in the market.
The aforementioned technology virtually eliminates unnecessary overhead associated with meeting demand by creating a well-oiled, autonomous system. As advancements are made in software technology for supply chain and logistics, retailers and grocers will be able to enhance customer experiences by having an omni-channel presence. As supply chains become more lean grocery retailers can utilize online channels to increase sales. The online grocery trend is best exploited by employing mobile apps with features that allow consumers to generate running grocery lists through the week. When a consumer needs to procure groceries they can place an order, settle payments and opt pick-up / delivery times through the app, altering the final stage in the grocery supply chain.
There are also wearable and mobile based software intended for use by the grocers to aggregate, route and manage orders. For example, software allowing a product picker to use a handheld or wearable device to pick orders more efficiently, by employing a more effective automated process in a warehouse or store environment. By scanning barcodes, QR codes, or SKU numbers, entities can ensure more accurate traceability. Orders can be downloaded to a specific device, then when picking is complete, uploaded back to the software platform, thus reducing clerical errors and efforts to complete the orders.
Track and trace software by means of a robust fleet management platform is imperative to improving supply chain visibility and traceability. Through specific development and implementation the software determines the GPS geocoordinates of multiple shipments and displays the actual location plus ETA through a defined User Interface (UI) integrated with a mapping API like Google Maps. Having a platform for viewing on mobile devices through optimized programing of web-based technologies is imperative. Integrating a two way communication platform with SMS messaging and push notification modules increases the scope of the application.
Additionally, utilizing custom software that effectively integrates with hardware for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), barcode, and Quick Response (QR) code scanning helps entities obtain crucial event data at all points within the supply chain. Having this data translated onto real-time reporting dashboards gives insights into the complete journey of specific products through the supply chain. The real-time analytics provided help entities refine their supply operations, which can translate to quicker delivery times to the end-user.
Furthermore, digital technology surrounding big data and analytics will continue to impact grocers in a big way. Companies strive to gather and analyze internal and external data to get a snapshot of how to improve productivity, streamline processes, reduce costs and improve accuracy across all facets of the supply chain. Predictive analytics is a hot button issue in the food retailer industry. Forecasting software is of paramount concern to all businesses, but with perishable goods, having the insight to anticipate future sales based on existing trends is pivotal to ensuring supply of each item is high enough to meet demand without incurring a loss due to the expiration of goods. At its fundamentals a basic forecasting software ties inventory management software to the point-of-sale to automatically account for each item as it is sold, allowing grocers to view real-time and historical data to predict when orders should be placed and how much of each item must be ordered.
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