It’s empowering to realize a silver lining with over two years of pandemic-related challenges. For the food retail industry, COVID has certainly shone a light on the critical importance of strong supply chain management. Meanwhile, innovative solutions are creating opportunities to overcome challenges with new technology adoption expedited by nearly a decade.
When we change our view of a product’s supply chain from simply focusing on its destination, opening it up to a more journey-like process, we can better understand the many moving parts involved with every step. In a changing landscape where consumers want access to more information about their food, how can your business keep up with all-time high food demand alongside ongoing supply chain challenges?
One major takeaway has been the importance of reducing uncertainty around food shortages, labour issues, and increased transaction costs through increased adaptability along the supply chain. Research from the FMI indicates over 40 percent of food retailers expect continued negative impacts due to these concerns. Policymakers are taking the issue seriously too. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced $4 billion in funding last June to better support and diversify food supply chains at the production, processing, distribution, and marketing levels. To the North, Canada’s Agri-Food Innovation Council is working to bring stakeholders and the government together. They aim to create national strategies that support the increased adoption of technologies and strengthen the entire path our food travels along. With membership including top communications providers like TELUS Agriculture, this committee is helping businesses understand the value in better digital integrations, that can provide them with profitability, visibility, sustainability, and responsiveness across the entire supply chain.
The pandemic spotlight
As people experienced firsthand the consequences of vulnerability along various supply chains, food retailers heavily reevaluated their strategies and relationships at each level. Negative impacts were widely reported at the transportation and trucking stages, in dealing with changing demand for certain food items as life shifted, and general weaknesses along supply chains that needed attention.
Top solutions are proving to be those technologies that increase collaboration, visibility, and efficiency for all players, helping to build a connected value chain. New software is delivering greater insight for stronger decision-making and the ability to proactively stay ahead of problems, often avoiding them in the first place. As these technologies continue to emerge and are more accessible to businesses of all sizes, increasing numbers of food retailers are leveraging them to reduce waste and unnecessary expenses while growing their profitability and customer satisfaction. With over one-third of food retailers already using artificial intelligence, technology investments in this $800 billion annual industry have surpassed $8 billion already.
How can these solutions help your food retail business?
Technology is not just the way of the future, it’s essential today.
Digital solutions increase insight along each stage of the supply chain, decreasing uncertainty while delivering better predictability and rapid corrections when needed. Whether it’s looking into production, inventory, orders, transportation, or warehouse management, centrally accessible and shareable information is a gamechanger for quick momentary adjustments and long-term strategies.
Here are a few key advantages that supply chain management can offer your business:
Collaboration – Supply management software means all product due diligence and other information is easily available, shared, and managed between your supply chain partners. This greatly reduces your administrative burden, grows brand trust, and is a big differentiator against competing brands.
Visibility – Visibility at every stage of your supply chain boosts supply security and safety while providing a map of the entire network from source to consumer. As you more accurately weigh product demand against inventory and availability, decision-making is improved.
Efficiency – New technologies can significantly reduce the time your retail business spends managing supply chains. With automated alerts, compliance and actions needed are identified and addressed immediately before they start impacting other chain links. In addition, all required documentation is centrally stored and available at your fingertips.
Risk management – Never before has transparency been so important to the food industry. Safety depends on it and consumers demand it. New technologies capture product origin, build stronger relationships along supply chains and decrease vulnerabilities, all the while improving dependability and trust. These traceability practices are rapidly becoming regulatory requirements here in North America.
When you can count on the right supply chain management software for your food retail business, your organization can quickly become streamlined and gain trust. Better documented information at each level means you can better engage policymakers and tell your positive story to the public. Where communication and collaboration are increased, your supply chain is strengthened.