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The Freshest Ideas Are in Small Grocery Stores

BALTIMORE — Maj. Gene Hogg, the Salvation Army’s commander for central Maryland, organized mobile kitchens after the twin towers fell in Manhattan and the levees broke in New Orleans. He fed protesters and police officers during the riots that erupted here in 2015 after a young man named Freddie Gray died of injuries he received while in the back of a police van. More than 200 businesses were destroyed, many of them places where people bought food. Once the city calmed down, he pondered his next move. After three days of prayer and fasting, Mr. Hogg had an answer. “God said I needed to open a grocery store,” he said.

Aligning Customer and Employee Experience in Grocery

Turning the same commitment to the shopper experience inward to the employee experience will be a winning strategy for grocers Everyone wants in on the grocery business: Amazon bought Whole Foods. Walmart announced grocery delivery this year, and Target continues to expand its grocery footprint to compete. All the while, gas stations, corner stores, and pharmacies offer the ultimate in grocery convenience to neighborhood shoppers.

‘Independent squeeze’ pressures retailers

They still have advantages in being community-oriented players with personalized service. However, requirements for scale are increasing in this era of consolidation. Independents are squeezed between large brick-and-mortar chains and growing online competitors. In truth, the definition of “independent” differs by retail channel, from food to pharmacy to mass. However, I tend to think of independents not just in terms of size, but also as innovative, entrepreneurial, customer-focused, and often family- or privately owned. They often support underserved markets.

The Ingredients of Fresh: Achieving Real-time Visibility to Increase Profits and Reduce Waste

Many grocers have little to no visibility on their fresh inventory (e.g. meat, seafood, produce, & prepared foods). Today, there is a large demand from grocers for insights on quality, waste, inventory levels, tracking, and daily production for fresh and prepared foods. This becomes more and more prevalent as the market sees consumer demand for healthier, prepared foods continuously trend upward. For example, by 2025 the global organic food and beverage market is expected to reach $320.5 billion, tripling its market-value from 2016. I recently had the opportunity to visit with a grocery retailer in North America with over 200 stores and $3 billion in revenue. A large part of our conversation centered on the retailer’s need to put a solution in place that would provide associates and management real-time visibility into their fresh inventory. Some of the challenges this retailer is facing are typical for many others and we see them on a daily basis. I’ve outlined several below.

How technology is shaping the future of food retail

In an ever-changing retail environment, grocers and online food retailers are constantly innovating and utilizing technology to ease the consumer shopping journey. They’re also finding ways to use technology to streamline business operations. From smart shelf labels to the use of artificial intelligence, technology is paving the way for a grocery experience unlike anything shoppers have seen before.
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"In a multi-store operation it is important to have control from a central point. STCR provides the systems and technical expertise to do just that."