The demand for fresh ordering services at grocery retail is on the rise due to competitive pressures, economic challenges, and sustainability goals, emphasizing the importance of efficient fresh product management, said Greg Wilson, vice president of field strategy for Relex. 

“The competitive nature of the grocery market necessitates differentiation through the offering of fresh, high-quality products, which enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty,” Wilson said. “And there’s a significant push towards sustainability and reducing food waste.”

The complexity of managing perishable goods, coupled with economic pressures such as fluctuating prices and tight margins, means retailers must switch to more efficient inventory management to improve profitability. Relex enhances fresh ordering for grocery stores with AI-driven machine learning demand forecasts and integrating the shelf life of products into critical calculations, Wilson said. The Relex approach includes determining the necessary safety stock, projecting future spoilage risk, and accurately estimating the inventory position of challenging items like fruits and vegetables.

“The platform ensures that grocery stores can maintain optimal inventory levels, minimizing waste while ensuring the freshness and availability of products,” Wilson said. “These insights and calculations are vital for optimizing fresh product management and are carried through the entire supply network, making a substantial contribution to the efficiency and sustainability of grocery store operations.”

Relex is constantly upgrading its fresh ordering capabilities, said Alex Jobin, the company’s senior solution principal, Forecasting and Replenishment.

One notable recent update is customer behavior modeling, which enhances Relex’s ability to maintain accurate virtual inventories for ultra-fresh products.

The company has also recently improved its safety stock optimization through new methodologies, significantly impacting the Relex platform’s effectiveness.

Another recent introduction, Jobin said, is Relex Mobile Pro, which streamlines fresh grocery ordering by offering real-time inventory visibility and automated replenishment recommendations tailored for fresh products.

“It enables easy adjustments to orders, allowing store staff to respond swiftly to changes in demand or inventory levels.”

That means less spoilage and waste, contributing to retailers’ sustainability efforts, Jobin said. 

And enhanced operational efficiency frees up staff to focus on customer service and other essential tasks.

Additionally, it supports comprehensive task management for fresh items, including promotions, markdowns, and inventory counts, ensuring a well-rounded approach to managing fresh products.

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.