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Progressive Grocer: The Grocer’s Guide to Tech

December 13, 2022

Progressive Grocer identifies the biggest tech trends for the savvy grocer by having creators of various cutting-edge solutions weigh in.

Food retailers and wholesalers interested in streamlining different aspects of their business have many technology solutions to choose from, but which will be most essential in the coming year and beyond? Progressive Grocer wanted to know on behalf of our readers, so we want straight to the sources: the developers of some of the most exciting grocery technology offerings around.

Across grocery order fulfillment, retail media, price optimization, digital marketing and more, the experts PG asked weighed in with thoughtful takes on what retailers can expect from a range of technologies adapted to the grocery sector, and why it’s in their interest to implement them.

Mike Pane VP, Data Science, 84.51°

The most important upcoming technology that grocers will need to have in their stores/facilities is maximizing the use of prescriptive decision-making, driven by data science and artificial intelligence (AI).

Just a few examples of this in action are:

  • Directing an associate to take the most optimal next task in your store/warehouse.
  • Optimizing assortment by balancing variety where it matters to the customer while minimizing costs to keep the shelf full.
  • Automated warehouse ordering so a retailer can order the appropriate amount of products from suppliers to meet demand while being as operationally efficient as possible.

By allowing prescriptive data science and AI to take over the predictable tasks, you are able to free up an associate’s time to work on the problems that data science and AI can’t solve. In the end, embedding data science and AI-driven prescriptive decision-making will deliver a stronger customer experience leading to customers rewarding you with a higher share of their wallet and stomach.

A simple solution with access to the appropriate data embedded within business systems is more impactful than a complex machine-learning model not embedded within the processes that the associates leverage. A fancy model disconnected from the associate’s day-to-day operations is likely to be blind to constraints and ultimately underused to make decisions. To avoid this common pitfall, grocers must do two things:

  • Invest in the appropriate business systems. To do this successfully, it will take the cross-section of technology and business teams coming together to ensure that they make the appropriate technology decisions to enable the day-to-day execution of the business while setting up for the future. Too many times, technology decisions are made that are not compatible with where data science and AI can take and enable the business.
  • Understand the problem you are trying to solve. Allow your data scientists and technologists to spend ample time with the business experts to truly understand their problems and constraints. Data scientists themselves must bring humility to this discussion. The associates in stores and warehouses, the merchandising and supply chain leaders, all know their business the best. They are the experts, and the data scientists and technologists should spend time learning from them and truly understanding the business. Collectively, they should be looking for ways to help them do their jobs more efficiently.

The grocers that embrace leveraging technology, driven by prescriptive data science and AI, will get the right product to the right place at the right time, cost and quantity, all while delivering a superior customer experience. Given the broader economic and competitive pressures facing grocers, they have to be more efficient than ever, and the winners will be those that integrate prescriptive data science and technology with people. This will allow them to anticipate the customer’s ever-changing needs and deliver upon the most personalized experiences as efficiently as possible.

Click here to read the full Progressive Grocer article.

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