The on-going pandemic has disrupted the entire chain of operations all across the globe. Where a few businesses had to put their activities on hold, the grocery shopping evolved, and beyond expectations. There occurred a sudden upsurge in demands which again caused disruptions.
Much of this is attributed to the fact that the grocery supply chain operators were not prepared and were still using the traditional methods of conducting business. Albeit digital transformation has arrived decades ago, not all grocery stores adopted the change. In such a situation when the demand rose inconsiderably, they failed to keep up with the customer’s expectations.
Adhering to the above, we use this article to describe how digital transformation and primary automation can help the grocery supply chain to thrive in the current situation.
How Pandemics Influences Demands?
- Research by Adobe Analytics suggests that online grocery sales increased by 100% in March 2020.
- US Grocery Shopper Trends outlines that nearly 40% of the essential items are purchased online.
- Also, 18% of buyers seek the next day or same-day delivery.
It is pretty much obvious that there has occurred a shift in customer’s buying behavior and that the model of the delivery (in-store pickup, curbside pickup, home delivery) has also changed.
But that’s not all. Because of the changing buyer trends, the supply chain industry started witnessing serious issues. Starting with losing out of products to not being able to deliver goods in time, the grocery supply chain is finding it hard to make the ends meet with their limited staff.
And the only way out is automation.
The Need for All-Round Inventory Visibility
The modern-day supply chain requires both agility and flexibility. Inventory visibility is one of the important aspects and needs considerable attention. To keep up with the needs and demands of customers, supply chain operators require an end to end visibility across the inventory..
This enables them to adhere to the changing demands and the growing customer’s expectations. Experts believe that the repercussions of the pandemic are yet to be seen. Brand loyalty would be at its peak enforcing supply chain operators to restrict the production and sale of less popular products.
Also, they would be skeptical about stacking products that take longer to be manufactured or do not fall among the best in-store products. All of this will cumulatively affect the current face of the supply chain, making the entire system efficient and productive.
Streamlining the Order Fulfillment Process
Besides inducing inventory visibility, there is a dire need for accelerating the end to end supply chain operations. Order fulfillment is a major challenge and one of the common issues faced by the industry both before and during the pandemic. The inability to keep up with the demand or deliver groceries on time has been the core reason for supply chain failure.
In times when the top leaders offer same-day or one-day delivery, it becomes extremely important for others to re-engineer their supply chain processes and embed solutions that can speed up the entire production to delivery phase.
Automating Supply Chain Operations
Be it the need to induce inventory visibility or supply chain transparency, optimize decisions, or fill gaps in the order fulfillment processes, the only solution is supply chain automation.
- Unique Identifiers
For one, digital unique identifiers can be used to locate goods at all levels, right from the production to the delivery stage. This makes the products traceable offering end to end inventory transparency, enabling supply chain managers to keep their customers informed and updated about the product.
- Digital Tags
Using RFID tags for tracking products is an excellent way to automate operations and eliminate the need for human intervention. In uncertain times such as these when the staff is limited, the best way to monitor inventory is through RFID tags. Unlike the traditional bar code scanners that require a line of sight to detect and extract information, RFID tags work wirelessly and don’t require any human touch.
- Warehouse management system software
Logistics software is a must when automating the supply chain operations. Irrespective of the fact that we are talking about groceries, using warehouse management system software enables you to have a holistic view of the end to the end customer and product data. With the right system in place, you can effectively keep track of the inventory and automate order processing.
In addition to the above, the warehouse management system software is equipped with smart and intelligent dashboards that analyze customer’s data to predict demand. Having an all-round view of what’s selling gives you the flexibility to optimize your store operations, add products that are relevant and increasing profits.
The Final Word
COVID-19 crisis has forced retailers to shut their doors, resorting to online channels for sales and delivery. While this might have temporarily helped them keep their business running, it wouldn’t survive for long, if they do not embrace digital infrastructure and modern tools. The crux being that grocery supply chain automation is not an option but the need of the hour.