Grocery remains, in many ways, a tradition-bound industry. But more and more retailers are adopting fresh ordering software to increase sales, reduce shrink and get an edge on the competition.

Invafresh’s AI-enhanced fresh ordering solution continues to evolve, said Stephen Midgley, the company’s vice president of marketing.

It now has the ability to view and manage order exclusions at the corporate level and the ability to see future orders, Midgley said. 

Enhanced order configuration and settings and a better overall user experience, which makes it easier to use for both store and department managers on the floor and order approvers and administrators, are other recent improvements.

For order approvers, updates include enhanced filtering and display options when viewing an order, the ability to update inventory directly from the order approval screen, and more visual ways to quickly assess an order and compare to prior orders.

Order administrators, meanwhile, now have the ability to manage order exclusions and configure whether or not core products can be excluded from an order.

Invafresh’s fresh ordering platform also has a dashboard with insights into order operations, so users can see scheduled as well as generated orders. That, Midgley said, gives them the visibility to make data-driven decisions.

Another area of focus for Invafresh is ingredient ordering for commissaries, central kitchens and other offsite facilities that supply prepared foods and other foods to grocery stores.

Integrated with store ordering, commissary users can monitor and manage store orders in real time, improving the communication between stores and commissaries.

That, Midgley said, helps to improve operating margins, reduce shrink, and ensure the freshest products for both stores and commissaries.

Fresh ordering, like all technologies, is playing a more prevalent role in helping grocery retailers address a number of different challenges, Midgley said. Technology, he said, helps grocers:

Drive sustainability: Capture real-time shrink and production data, balance on-hand quantities, and replenishment recommendations to meet demand and reduce over/under ordering.

Optimize in-store labor hours: Reduce labor hours with autonomous and accurate order processing that manages orders independently of in-store operator approvals.

Ensure maximum freshness: Automate just-in time replenishment of store backrooms based on perpetual inventory, merchandising requirements, and forecasts to generate accurate order amounts for future inbound deliveries.

Enhance operational intelligence: Gain visibility and access to built-in reports such as configurable order compliance and audit reporting.

“With data-accurate forecasting, such as our Fresh Retail Platform, grocery retailers can accurately order what they need to have the optimal on-shelf balance, alleviating the need for heavy backstock and deliver a fresher shopping experiences to their customers,” Midgley said. Supermarkets using Invafresh’s AI-enhanced fresh ordering solution have seen a 50% reduction in replenishment time, a 25% reduction in backroom inventory, a 25% reduction in shrink, and a 6% reduction in inventory storage costs.

A good ordering system should consider a variety of exclusion situations. Though automated systems are important and valued, situations will still arise regularly where experience and expertise of administrators is needed.

Paying attention to efficient exclusion processes, attention of seasoned staff or corporate administrators can be refocused on the most important products increasing efficiency and helping eliminate human errors.

This article is an excerpt from the May 2024 issue of Supermarket Perimeter. You can read the entire Fresh Ordering feature and more in the digital edition here.