How Grocers Can Right Their Inventory Woes
RIS: How can leading grocers reimagine their businesses to become more customer-centric?
Iosevich: Omnichannel related services are pushing grocers to introduce new ways to serve customers beyond the deli, butcher, and checkout lane. Combining in-store shopping with fulfillment options like delivery and curbside pickup allows customers to shop how and when they want. However, the in-store experience should continue to be a focus area to enhance engagement and strengthen customer loyalty. The focus must be on reimagining the grocery shopping experience away from a mundane chore and towards an enjoyable event. Further, leading grocers must capture all shopping behavior data — beyond transactions and by customer to improve future interactions.
RIS: What is the single biggest change you have seen in grocery operations over the past two years?
Iosevich: Most notable is increased focus on omnichannel and enhancing customer experience. Today's operational focus expands beyond stocking shelves to engaging customers, enhancing loyalty, fulfilling online/curbside, and providing a seamless experience regardless of shopping channel.
We have all watched the Amazon/Whole Foods and Walmart/Jet dynamics with interest — this blended grocery model continues to evolve. Certainly, the pandemic hastened many traditional grocers’ omnichannel capabilities. However, as the dust settles, the industry is placing high priority on strategically fusing digital and physical grocery shopping to meet customer needs.
RIS: How can advanced AI/ML solutions help ensure grocers have on-trend products in stock?
Iosevich: Grocery is about availability and freshness, so the ability to quickly adjust to demand is key. AI/ML solutions can enhance and strengthen manual category management and fulfillment forecasting, creating more accurate and timely information for supply and delivery planning. Also, using AI/ML to analyze customer data and provide visibility into marketing, promotions, assortment choices, and store experience allows grocers to understand macro trends and adapt accordingly. Advanced tools enable grocers to better refine their categories and assortment attributes/clusters based on store-level shopping trends, improving their inventory placement, while maximizing sales and margin. AI/ML also dramatically reduces response times to current trends and customer needs by unifying the organization around one demand signal.