Smaller, Smaller, Faster, Faster

Category: Cold Chain,Supply Chain July 17, 2017

The recent issue of Refrigerated & Frozen Foods cited a report by the ACOSTA, entitled Bricks & Clicks – Understanding the Omni Channel Landscape. It’s an interesting read if you have a moment.

The report called out that for Millennial and Gen Z shoppers technology has trumped brand loyalty. Tips to the brick-and-mortar retail is not as necessary or as entertaining as it is or was for their parents, who often perused fresh meats, cheeses and other chilled categories to ensure the right selection. From the report:

  • 40% of U.S. grocery shoppers use a retailer mobile app, and 23% of these users spend time seeking deals before visiting the store.
  • More than 58% of U.S. grocery shoppers are interested in scan-and-go technology in store, with usage and interest decreasing with age.
  • 15% of frequent e-commerce grocery shoppers use auto-replenish digital platforms.
  • 56% of male e-commerce grocery shoppers are influenced by social media when shopping online vs 39% of females.

As consumers and logisticians we’ve all seen dramatic, if not radical, changes on the retail front, and that’s beginning to include more and more grocery stores and a wider range of foods. The ease of purchasing groceries on your phone, voice control, system or Bluetooth refrigerator is impacting the ‘hands on selection’ made at the store.

One paragraph in the report came close to home: “There is a discrepancy between the volume ordering of online retailers and brick-and-mortar retailers. E-tailers typically order less product, which can disrupt manufacturer logistics. Some retailers are also compiling eCommerce orders from stores – it can be difficult to effectively manage on-shelf availability.”

A walk through our Chicago Consolidation Center in Hobart, Indiana reveals an amazing assortment of frozen foods on their collective way to distribution centers throughout the U.S., which loads and departs more than 125 truckloads a day. Hanson Logistics has invested significantly in a replenishment strategy designed to help food manufacturers address this disruption cost-effectively.

How many retail stores will become hubs for home delivery or strategically-located click and collect distribution centers? How can logisticians in the cold supply chain provide value-added services to these new, near-inventoryless service centers?  How small will orders become?

Says Retail Systems Research, “People need stores. They like stores. They love shopping online, but there are things that online just can’t do – and likely never will.”

Right or wrong, food manufacturers and distributors must continue to be diligent and innovative in finding new ways to serve the blurred lines of the looming grocery omni-channel.