Skip to main content

Six Ways to Become a Food Logistics Superstar (Hint: Plan Ahead, Don’t Panic)

Matthew Frost
Matthew Frost

Logistics management is topic No. 1 for grocery leaders as they grapple with out-of-stocks, supply chain breakdowns and rapidly changing consumer buying behavior. Research from McKinsey suggests that shoppers are more willing than ever before to switch brands or retailers, especially when items are unavailable. All this makes the crucial holiday season one of the most challenging for the industry to date.

With shoppers increasingly embracing the omnichannel experience and changing the way they purchase merchandise – to get the products they need and want wherever they can – here are six ways grocers can end the year on a logistics high note and get ready for 2022.

Be detail oriented
With more than 20 years and 20 holiday seasons working at two of the U.K.’s leading grocery retailers, my holiday wisdom is simple.  To use a reference from the famous Christmas song goes, store teams should make a list and check it twice.  Make sure you have all the ingredients for delivering a bumper sales period through strategic and nimble buying plans.

Don’t cling to forecasts
Forecasts are often incorrect, no matter how much we’d like them to be accurate. Plan for every eventuality. Use analytics to look at what product line historically sells in the category when others run out and make sure you have some cover. But crucially, don’t panic! Avoid overstocking items that you will find difficult to sell after the holidays, especially perishable food products.

Act like a leader
Great team members are the secret to success. It’s an art and a science to have the right number of people in the right place at the right time to deliver great customer service. With the current tough labor environment, make it a requirement for store leaders to recognize employees who have gone above and beyond. Great service will give you the gift of loyalty from staff and shoppers.

Get creative with merchandising and stock
Make it easier for shoppers to wow their family and guests by tempting them with signature items likes cookies, cheese trays and cocktail ingredients.  It will help grocers by adding to their basket. Make it simpler by bringing the solution together and getting fill levels right.

Be prepared to change
Become a data fiend. One of the most important things to do during any holiday period is to monitor the data and be prepared to change course. Keep an eye on sell through on holiday items and make decisions early. Even with the best plan some items will sell better or worse than you expect. Take timely decisions on marking down to minimize losses or order more if you can.

Earn loyalty
The key to success at retail has been to build customer loyalty based on their in-store experiences, pricing and product mix. But the game has changed with the explosion of digital shopping options, even from grocers themselves.  Retailers must work harder than ever to gain and retain customers.

All this means that having the right stock in the right place at the right time is essential. If you are to succeed this holiday season – and in 2022 – you need to find innovative ways to negate inventory shortages, get products on display quicker and minimize labor disruptions. Those that do will be much stronger placed to meet demand and maintain profitability.

Retail veteran Matthew Frost is CEO of Impulse Logic, whose inventory management solutions are designed to reduce waste, minimize out-of-stock scenarios and deliver an ROI in just 90 days.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds