a key opportunity to drive ROI. A business model in which
resources are shared by multiple users, cloud computing
enables grocers to transition from local servers or personal
computers to a network of remote servers that connect grocers
to web-based solutions, storage and data on an as-needed basis.
Providing a single platform that seamlessly integrates mission-critical solutions, this on-demand platform eliminates the need
for point-to-point solutions, a factor that helps grocers to keep
a lid on operating costs.
“Automating tiresome manual processes reduces the risk of
errors and makes things more efficient,” says Chris Cunnane,
senior analyst for ARC Advisory Group, based in Dedham,
Mass. “Retailers are investing in technology to simplify their
supply chain operations.”
More importantly, automated solutions are a means of
breaking down silos and enabling business groups to collabo-
rate and share project capital and savings.
Next-Generation Electronic Data Interchange
(EDI). Whether it is a lack of accurate store inventory records
or inadequate manual efforts that manage omni-channel inventory and shipping processes, retailers are finding it difficult to
fulfill e-commerce orders and to replenish in an efficient way. As
existing operations continue to create errors, redundancy and
even jeopardize business relationships, grocers are looking for
ways to alleviate constraints of supply chain business processes.
One of the first steps to this automation is next-generation EDI.
EDI can assist grocers in transferring data from one computer
system to another by standardized message formatting, without
the need for human intervention. The process, which permits
multiple companies—potentially across different countries—
to exchange documents electronically, is getting an upgrade as
companies adopt complete EDI solutions from one source.
Mommy’s Bliss, a San Rafael, Calif.-based provider of
all-natural baby care products, can attest to the value of inte-
grated EDI. A company that initially processed orders using
off-the-shelf software and paper-based transactions, Mommy’s
Bliss needed a new strategy when the company began supplying
product to one of the nation’s largest retailers in 2011. Besides
needing product for 3,800 stores in just six weeks, the retailer
required all financial transactions to be automated through an
EDI-based solution that met its strict requirements.
By adopting TrueCommerce EDI, from TrueCommerce,
a division of Minneapolis-based HighJump, Mommy’s Bliss
began leveraging the solution’s managed service offerings and
seamless integration with all major financial systems—a move
that supports its new, large-scale distribution channel. The
solution now manages account relationships with many large
retailers and meets all their diverse EDI, labeling and shipping
“EDI, in general, streamlines our order processing and keeps
everything running efficiently,” says Alexandra Skogstrom,
account manager with Mommy’s Bliss.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). The key to
supply chain efficiency is to ensure that retailers have as many
details as possible to gain visibility into inventory movement.
RFID can provide this insight.
A solution that allows grocers to track merchandise from
manufacturing through purchase at the store, RFID labels are
affixed to individual product or pallets and dedicated readers
are installed throughout the supply chain. Meanwhile, unique
identification electronic product codes (ePCs) are embedded
with product-specific information, including SKU number,
quantity, size, and in some cases, styles.
Scanners throughout the supply chain can locate tagged merchandise, read individual ePC codes and manage inventory in
real-time. As product hits store level, dedicated scanners detect
and deactivate the tag and update inventory systems when merchandise has been purchased, ensuring retailers can stay abreast
of stock levels and replenishment needs. This process is especially important as grocers continue to compete with specialty
food stores and provide a larger variety of premium meats and
“These items are high-margin, higher cost and highly perishable,” says Doyle. “Grocers are starting to use RFID technology to manage this sort of inventory. There have been a few
pilot programs to monitor time and temperature of perishable
items in the supply chain, as well as for fresh item management
in store, to reduce waste and to drive effective promotions that
Forklift Software. Omni-channel is quickly becoming
mission-critical, however the rise of BOPIS and home delivery
create significant challenges for supermarket retailers. “
Omni-channel changes the way stores are staffed, as employees are