As any astronomer knows, time and space respect certain laws, and that those laws cannot be broken. Retailers and grocers are also well-acquainted with those same laws. But they feel the penalties of breaking them not so much theoretically as practically—along their bottom line. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in inventory management.
In an era characterized by constant technological change and frequent disruption, it can be difficult to take a moment, step back from daily grind, and reflect on where you've been and how far you've come. But doing so is essential to charting a path to your future success.
Over the past 10 years, grocery retail back-office solutions have experienced unprecedented digital transformation. Let's take a look at what's changed, the effect it’s had on operations, why it represents progress, and how it has created new business opportunities.
No grocer takes the decision to replace their point of sale system lightly. As we’ve discussed before (See 4 Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your POS Hardware), all equipment eventually reaches the end of its duty cycle. But, when it comes to POS hardware, “replacing” is not necessarily the same as “upgrading.” Whether it’s time to replace the entire system, or upgrade the components which are no longer viable, your upgraded POS system should deliver innovation and establish a foundation for your store’s future success.
How long has it been since you installed that once-new retail point of sale system in your grocery store? As sophisticated as it has become, all hardware has a duty cycle, a time past which it’s better to replace it. At four or five or six years, you expect to replace a few parts here and there. But at some point, it’s just time to upgrade that hardware or replace the whole system.
The theme of our blog the past few weeks has been grocery margin management. While a number of these articles focused on addressing specific situations, last week we started a list of some potentially overlooked techniques and technologies to help you improve or, at least protect, your bottom line.
Simply put, margin management is the practice of minimizing costs to maximize profit. And if you can’t make a profit, why stay in business? That’s why we’ve focused our recent posts on this topic. We’ve provided tips, techniques, and technologies retail grocers can use as part of their strategy to protect and improve their margins. For example, how to minimize waste due to product recalls, to optimize the types and quantities of prepared foods, how to save on labor costs with electronic shelf labels, and much more.
Over the past few weeks, we have focused our articles on various tips, processes, and technologies which, when used as part of a retailer’s margin management strategy, can help you protect your bottom line. We’ve described ways to use data to optimize a prepared food strategy, trim unnecessary waste due to product recalls, even protect profit margins against the invasion of the dollar stores.
Over the past 12 months, three major E. coli outbreaks decimated sales of Romaine lettuce, rearranging and upsetting the salad bowls of America. Numerous salmonella scares caused recalls of eggs, chicken, and turkey—not to mention nearly 20 million pounds of ground beef—from many different suppliers. And that’s just a fraction of fresh food recalls that made the news in 2018, and it doesn’t touch on recalls of packaged, frozen, or prepared foods.
Ask any retailer, and you’ll be hard pressed to find one that isn’t worried about rising competition from online shopping. eCommerce technology solutions can help retailers fight back on that front. However, according to Forbes, the true disruptors aren’t online giants like Amazon or Walmart. Instead, there’s a quieter and stealthier threat to the strained margins of traditional grocers: the “dollar stores.”
Having spent my entire career in the grocery industry, I’ve had first-hand experience with the challenges our customers face. I spent more than a decade as an IT director for a 14-store grocery chain. While that role presented plenty of challenges, it gave me insight into one of the most difficult roles in the grocery store—back office management.