"Refine Product Management" - Following the Roadmap to 2030 Webinar Series
Wednesday July 28, 2021 1:00 pm EST
Perfectly matching supply and demand is ideal, yet nearly impossible, and even the best efforts of forecasting and inventory management can lead to excess and waste. How can intelligent forecasting and fulfilment, dynamic pricing, flash sale apps, and other process improvements help to better align purchases with sales, optimize on-site handling, and proactively plan for surplus?
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Even though we work across different industries and have different perspectives, one of those shared perspectives is really the need for behavior change to drive any operational change within a company.
Most, if not all of the critical retail technology, supply chain technology, merchandising technology, had been first built for processed foods that come in packages that have barcodes and last a very long time. And there’s a gap between fresh food and a lack of fresh technology. Critical decisions are done manually, in even the largest multi-billion dollar organizations across the world, and the result of that are these massive inefficiencies.
It’s easy to track the barcode out the door, but not necessarily all the ways we can lose fresh products along their path from raw ingredients to a finished product.
Prevention can kind of often get ignored, because it’s not as tangible as some of the other solutions, but ultimately it’s the best way from a financial and environmental perspective to make sure that foods aren’t spoiling in the kitchen, they’re not reaching their expiration date before they can be used, and you have the data to really understand what those opportunities are.
Start-up innovators tend to be systems thinkers and generally try and reinvent the wheel quite often. So how do we create more space for collaboration, how do we create more standardization that isn’t proprietary, as we move unique and novel data solutions or solutions for freshness toward a pathway for wider adoption.
The measurement is just the first step. You need good data that you can rely on to understand your food waste opportunity. And then you need to make sure that that data can be actionable… If you have high-level [vs. granular] data on your food waste opportunities, you probably can’t really put that into action.
Sustainability needs to be a part of the implementation plan of any of these solutions, how we’re going to keep them going down the line, and ensure consistent data collection is feeding the systems.
The big insight we had was a unified approach that keeps the human in the loop, and lets them use his or her judgment to make a better decision that’s augmented by the cutting edge of AI and technology that we now have. It presents an opportunity to build a custom approach for fresh food that actually works and drives sustained good decisions at scale across even really big food businesses.
One of the principal reasons we chose [to pilot a markdown alert application] is how well it fits in with our current processes. We were able to continue with our in-store markdown program, while offering an additional way to connect with new and existing customers who share our goal of eliminating food waste, or those who just like getting a great deal. We’ve had a lot of success so far with the program, and we are planning to expand to additional locations in the next few months.
An iterative, or stepwise approach to adoption is something we see a lot… ‘Easing into the hot tub’ of innovation, where they’re not going to have a fully automated experience tomorrow. But the tools that can get them one inch closer are going to be the ones that help legacy companies fix or improve some of the legacy systems that are potentially holding us back.
That accessibility point is really important, because these solutions are incredibly powerful, and while we need all the big players involved, and they make up a big portion of market share, whether it’s retail or foodservice or restaurants that we’re talking about who are really influencing our food system, there’s also hundreds and thousands of smaller operators who need these solutions too.