Waste Management in Autonomous Grocery Stores
Updated: Aug 23
By Henna Hynynen, Head of Partnerships, Finance, and Marketing, Blockstore Group
Food waste is a high cost for the global economy in addition to being a major contributor to climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. This is a difficult situation for grocery retailers and the importance of efficient waste management in grocery stores is growing all the time.
Grocers want to meet the demand thus they must stock enough products. If they don’t the risk of losing the customer to the competitor increases. Forecasting the right demand however is not so simple and ordering more products than customers need, can lead to rotten food and incurred losses.
The moral aspect of food waste is equally worrying as not all people on this planet have enough to eat. They could be fed with the food that is wasted, couldn’t they?
Managing food waste in a grocery store is all about finding the perfect balance. Grocers want to deliver a promise to their customers about having the freshest food available and the best-in-stock rate with minimized food waste.
To support these needs one module of our complete solution focuses on an automated grocery store replenishment system. The idea is simple. Our solution provides visibility to the exact number of goods in the store and the remaining shelf life for each piece. Knowledge of the delivery frequencies and the shelf life of each product.
So, today we fight against food waste through our capability to offer real-time item-level tracking of goods which enables the optimization of products.
With our solution, our partners can track:
- The current capacity levels of goods at the smart stores and best-before dates of each item.
- The current capacity levels of goods at the warehouse and best-before dates of each item.
Having this data available allows our grocery partners to apply dynamic pricing to support sustainability. Our technology-enabled smart stores alert themselves when products are running low and send a signal independently to the warehouse for replenishment needs. This provides the grocer an opportunity to price the products higher if so desired.
Alternatively, if the products are getting closer to their best-before dates or they have been on the shelf longer than anticipated, then the grocer can price the products lower. Items that would have been thrown away have now a better chance of finding their way to the hands of the consumer.
This type of dynamic pricing approach with item-level tracking capabilities generates a productivity increase, leading to higher profits and reduce of waste.
And YES, everything will be done from one place, from our Blockster platform. Store by store.
As a next step to strengthen the waste management capabilities in our solution, the goal is to apply more AI and machine learning algorithms.
By doing this we want to:
- Offer automatic best-selling product lists to meet consumer needs over a relevant time horizon.
- Enable grocery stores to independently reduce the price of grocery items based on the time they spend on the store shelves.
Why should a person pay the same price for a product that expires in two days or in seven days? Our waste management vision is clear:
Offering the right products, at the right time, at the right price.