Retailers and consumers alike have continually felt the impact of supply chain issues since the Spring of 2020. What began as an issue of increased demand amid a pandemic has become a host of changes that have impacted how retailers move goods into the hands of the customers. As issues affecting the supply chain have evolved these past two years, so have the technology solutions the grocery, retail and hospitality industries have utilized in response. RFID, automation, and new logistics offerings are three solutions that are making a difference for retailers in easing the impacts of supply chain challenges.
1. Data-driven efficiency with RFID
Radio frequency identification and denoting technologies (RFID) bring the concept of “the internet of things” and its benefits into the retail space. RFID tags are a solution that allows for the tracking and monitoring of products at all stages of the supply chain. By incorporating RFID identifiers, retailers have access to real-time data that tracks where products are throughout the operations process. This data creates efficiencies in the system since increased awareness of product status and availability allows for better decision-making and optimization throughout the process.
For retailers selling perishable items, like grocers, RFID identifiers can be equipped with temperature monitors to ensure the safe transportation of food, pharmaceuticals, and other items. This way, retailers can minimize product spoilage in transit and ensure that teams are ready to efficiently store the products as soon as they arrive.
2. Automation to combat labor shortages
Labor shortages and issues with retention have compounded supply chain challenges, further straining retailers striving to maintain or expand their business. To combat this, we will see increased implementation of robotics and artificial intelligence in warehouse and logistics processes, as well as in stores.
Retail and grocery stores that are struggling with labor shortages can and will continue to implement technology that allows them to service their customers without human labor, like self-service technology. Customer service technologies will continue to evolve in new ways and further enhance the consumer experience. One example is the development of automated shopping carts which provide in-store navigation, product suggestions and self-service check-out all in-cart. We expect continued investment in automation since – in addition to alleviating the strain of labor shortages – AI increases efficiencies and improves retailers’ ability to keep up with consumer demand.
3. Expanding sourcing and logistics choices
As logistics providers became less reliable from traditional sources, retailers began taking matters into their own hands. We’ve seen many retailers switch to using rounded delivery – partnering with smaller local or regional logistics companies rather than the larger, international supply chain delivery enterprises. This began during the pandemic and has remained popular, especially for retailers and grocers that are able to source products locally and partner with local farmer’s markets.
We’ve even seen some retailers bringing their logistics lines in-house as a new sector of their business to reduce their dependence on vendors and maintain control over their product delivery.
Retailers and grocers who make the proper investments can avoid many of the supply chain issues that continue to challenge the industry. Fortunately, these solutions can easily be implemented by working with trusted partners, like a reseller, who can ensure that grocers have the right technology to keep up with their competitors.