July 27th, 2020

Consumer buying patterns often change, and now more than ever, businesses have realized that they should be prepared to meet new demands at any given time. While this holds true for all industries, grocery supply chains have recently had to maintain stock at an extraordinary level. Even though the initial panic of the pandemic seems to have worn off and proper inventory management appears to have been restored, this isn’t by chance. Super markets and smaller grocery stores have had to adopt new strategies in order to achieve an efficient and responsive supply chain, which isn’t easy!

Unpredictable grocery shopping trends are, without a doubt, shaping the future of grocery retail. Stock management techniques that have proven to be successful in the past, like keeping track of inventory manually, simply aren’t as effective today, and are certainly not characteristic of a responsive supply chain. That’s because when it comes to just-in-time stock control, there’s no room for errors.

Build an Agile Supply Chain

If you think about it, human error is unavoidable in normal circumstances, and revamping an entire supply chain is no walk in the park. Although it’s essential that grocery retailers and their suppliers move away from relying on manual processes to improve their chances of maintaining stock and meeting consumer demands, achieving this would be nothing short of a miracle in the middle of a crisis. That’s why so many industry leaders, like Gartner, are encouraging supply chain professionals to prepare for the future by implementing new strategies that support a responsive, or agile, supply chain.

Now that grocery supply chains are a bit more stable (for the time being, at least), it’s important for supply chain professionals to maintain a similar “crisis” mentality in order to fully realize the benefits of an agile supply chain. A big part of that includes quicker decision making when it comes to IT solutions that could prevent a lot of headaches in the case of a future crisis.

Perfect Your Strategy in Advance

Which leads us to this: Any business that has ever relied on email or some other traditional document exchange method for exchanging business documents (i.e. purchase orders and invoices) has experienced complications as a result of human error. Maybe it was an unnoticed email that caused an order to be shipped late, a data entry mistake that resulted in an underpaid invoice, or something else. No matter the situation, successful supply chain management in grocery retailing calls for precision and data accuracy in daily operations, and especially when unexpected situations arise.

Here’s why: Keeping track of inventory manually and hand-keying purchase orders and invoices into your back-office system isn’t scalable. To realize an efficient and responsive supply chain, these inefficiencies should be addressed in preparation for, not in response to, a shift in day-to-day operations. This strategy enables businesses to perfect their supply chain strategy in advance and therefore lessens the blow when something out of the ordinary occurs.

The future of retail, and specifically the future of grocery retail, requires businesses to not only meet consumer demand, but predict it. Automating document exchange processes can help with that in more ways than one, putting you well on your way to achieving an agile supply chain.