Unlocking the Business Benefits of IoT-Enabled Food Retail
Amid evolving consumer preferences and a myriad of business challenges across food retail, organizations have turned to digital transformation as a source of support for their physical supply chain and stores. Among the most prevalent innovative adoptions is the applied use of Internet of Things (IoT) technology. However, as economic volatility has increased and consumer preferences have evolved, organizations are taking IoT one step further to navigate this new realm of uncertainty.
Enter IoT Sensing-as-a-Service, an enhanced version of IoT sensing and monitoring solutions that combines physical track-and-trace capabilities with artificial intelligence-enabled digital decisioning and prescriptive analytics. With a focus on software, it creates physical-digital-physical workflows that boost operational efficiency, helping both food retailers and grocers weather widespread labor shortages that are afflicting the industry. In addition, organizations can leverage IoT SaaS to boost their food safety, loss prevention, asset protection and compliance efforts for higher levels of return on investment, revenues and consumer satisfaction.
Food Safety and Loss Prevention
An IoT-enabled approach to food safety and loss prevention reduces the time store teams spend on asset monitoring. The interconnected remote temperature sensors collect real-time environmental setting data, sending digital feedback loops to a handheld device that alerts teams with actionable guidance when a particular storage environment — e.g., back-of-house freezers, customer-facing refrigerators, or on-floor salad bars — moves outside its acceptable temperature or humidity threshold.
On the other hand, the solution can also confirm that food products remained in optimal settings at every critical control point, which helps alleviate risk and reduce waste. Automating this process creates a balancing act between food safety and loss prevention, two traditionally siloed functions, for a more effective business strategy. IoT also helps with the enforced cooling/warming process of prepared food at grocery and restaurants. And using all IoT devices within the “building” with a single solution optimizes workflows under one umbrella.
Proactive Asset Protection
For asset protection, IoT SaaS empowers food retailers to collect, analyze and act on advanced data relative to asset performance, automating both the detection and prediction of maintenance issues that could lead to a future loss-causing event. The raw data collected by each sensor flows through automated feedback loops enabled by the prescriptive analytics system, in turn providing actionable insights to maintenance teams so they can proactively ensure assets are functional and regularly maintained. In turn, organizations reduce expenses associated with expensive repairs and costly equipment breakdowns. This allows operational teams to evaluate the different manufacturers among their assets regarding their ability to maintain the optimal ambient, humidity and temperature to maintain high-quality products.
Streamlined Compliance Procedures
For meeting regulatory compliance standards, IoT SaaS digitalizes task management and automates reporting so that employees no longer need to perform error-prone manual reporting with physical spreadsheets. The newfound compliance capabilities enhance staff-wide productivity. McKinsey & Company found that IoT connectivity increased the productivity of food retail teams by 1.5 percent across their fleet of stores and supply chain. With their compliance procedures streamlined, employees in turn have more time to prioritize additional responsibilities such as inventory management and customer service — two components that have greater influence on the quality of the consumer experience.
Considering that current market volatility and key business challenges are showing no signs of slowing down, now is a critical time for food retailers to unlock the power of digital transformation and AI-driven innovation. Through the integrated adoption of IoT SaaS, organizations can take proactive steps that foster a brighter and more profitable future.
Guy Yehiav is the president of SmartSense by Digi, a provider of critical control point (CCP) monitoring solutions.
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Guy Yehiav is the president of SmartSense by Digi. He is a recognized thought leader in retail, CPG, supply chain, and complex manufacturing with a proven track record of success in M&A, B2B enterprise software solutions, SaaS metrics, and AI and IoT solutions. Guy most recently served as the GM and VP of Zebra Analytics. He supported the overall AI, machine learning, and analytics strategy by driving M&A, and the development of B2B enterprise solutions.