While fresh, ready-made products offer convenience for customers, the preparation behind the scenes can cause a manual inventory management nightmare for grocers.
Technology company Oracle is making it easier for grocers to offer compelling fresh and grab-and-go options while better managing inventory, costs and waste. The Austin, Texas-based company has revealed a series of new APIs and extensions for Oracle Retail Merchandising Cloud Services. With these Fresh Product Management, Ingredients Management and Zero Waste capabilities, retailers can more efficiently allocate and account for inventory to create unique food offerings – from pre-made sandwiches to salads or baked goods – that minimize waste while enhancing margin and customer loyalty.
"Grocers continue to expand their offerings to compete for shoppers' hearts and minds with convenience and choice," said Mike Webster, SVP and general manager, Oracle Retail. "Enabling customers to grab a sandwich, sushi or even a pre-made dinner gives them incentive to come into a store and spend more – but it comes with complexity for the grocer. Today, we are eliminating that hassle by enabling food retailers to better trace all fresh foods and bring together recipe management and ingredient management. This will help grocers handle production planning and execution more precisely, as well as account for the cost of labor and packaging, all within their familiar Oracle platform for modern retail."
With the Fresh Items Ingredients Management API and Zero Waste cloud service, grocers can manage the sourcing and procurement of fresh ingredients from within the store to factor in the material cost of those ingredients, inventory implications and restocking, all from mobile applications. For example, according to Oracle, strawberries and blueberries from the produce section nearing the end of life, granola, and yogurt could all be flagged as items leaving a store shelf to be used in the deli section to make a parfait. Merchandising can account for the average cost of the produced items, based on the current prices of the ingredient items, and make all the appropriate stock ledger entries.
With these fresh management APIs and extensions, grocers can manage in-store production with complete visibility into inventory, waste, production costs and finished goods demand, all while offering compelling new products to customers. According to Oracle, other benefits include:
End-to-end inventory visibility of inventory of both the orderable ingredient and the produced sellable items
Supporting more accurate forecasting and ordering for perishable goods and ingredient items for the store and warehouse
The ability to improve margins by optimizing sourcing, procurement, inventory and sales
Better insight into additional conversion costs involved in transformation beyond the ingredients, like labor and packaging
Readily available data and intelligence to better plan assortments based on consumer, environmental, ethical and economic factors
Capabilities to help recognize price volatility and the need to pass the rising cost of ingredients to manufacture finished products to maintain margins
The ability to manage shelf inventory and monitor products about to expire with freshness-ready sensors