Vancouver, Canada-based Invafresh offers item management technology for the fresh food retail industry. According to Steve Midgley, VP of Invafresh, while e-commerce and the omnichannel approach is here to stay, consumers are “more picky” when it comes to fresh items in the grocery store.
“What one person may consider to be a ripe avocado might not be ripe to another,” he said. For CPG products, consumers often look at the brand. But for anything fresh, they are looking at the color of beef, bruising on apples or bread’s sell-by date.
“I think this speaks to the complexity of fresh compared to CPG. But what we’re seeing – and our research has shown – is there’s a growing focus on the perimeter store, because it has better margins,” Midgley said.
He said as people are returning to their offices after the COVID pandemic, they don’t have as much time to cook but “they want fresh and they want quality.”
“There’s a lot of movement toward pre-made meals and the grab-and-go. It’s easy to take care of when you get home,” he said. “There’s a lot more focus on health and well-being that we’re seeing.”
Another trend Invafresh is watching is shoppers buying mix-and-match or bundle-type solutions, such as kits including all the ingredients to put a meal together. While price may be an issue for some people, they also want to eat healthy. Midgley noted that many shoppers also are buying fresh frozen items.
“What we’re seeing because of inflation is people are bargain shopping, private label shopping and then buying and keeping it in the freezer,” he said.
Invafresh also is seeing grocery retailers looking more at technology solutions in today’s economic environment.
“COVID definitely accelerated the digitization of businesses and adoption of technology. As we come out of COVID and maybe a recession…we’re seeing the increased pivot toward technology – how can technology help address the problems we’re encountering?”
He noted that grocery is a margin business and technology is supposed to augment and optimize processes. “I think for retailers, the challenge is just the choice and the array of technology solutions. They need to have a technology strategy.”
One of the strengths of Invafresh is that it offers a single solution for the entire perimeter. “All that data supports the entire perimeter across multiple stores,” Midgley said.
He added that retailers need to find solutions that easily integrate into their foundational technology systems, that are easily scalable and easily configured.
“I’m certainly seeing in grocery retail a lot of consolidation happening, so you need a solution that scales well, configures into multiple systems well. Another thing when you’re looking at your tech strategy is ease of implementation. Because the biggest challenge in any tech rollout isn’t usually the technology, it’s the change management – showing the value to the in-store operator, how it can make his or her job easier and make them more efficient.”
Invafresh supports all devices and browsers, which also is important for retailers when looking at their tech strategy, he said.
“You need a platform that scales, and that’s so important for our customers. That’s one of the benefits is that it’s easily configurable, scalable and integrates into whatever ERP system you’re using,” Midgley said.
He added that one of the biggest challenges for grocery retailers is optimizing the balance between overstock and understock. “If it’s overstocks, they’re going to have waste. If it’s understocks, they’re going to lose sales…that’s what our fresh forecasting tool does.”
With Invafresh providing the right technology and the right tool set, grocers can optimize their inventory. “You’re selling exactly what you need to be selling to maximize profits and margins and delight customers,” Midgley said.
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