Grocery shopping is estimated to be an $18 billion industry by the end of 20181. As with most things in today’s shopping world, technology has begun shaping the way people shop for food and the way grocers are offering products for purchase. As consumer buying behavior changes, grocers must stay ahead of the curve and partnering with the right supply chain solution provider can be the secret ingredient to success in this evolving market.
Grocery Shopping on the Go
Grocery shopping has grown from just a weekly trip to the store to the ability to order fresh produce and groceries for delivery and even regular online delivery subscriptions1. These options give consumers the flexibility to avoid the grocery store all together or pick up online orders in store. However, new trends can result in new challenges. One of the largest issues an e-grocer faces is the ability to deliver quality fresh food without any damages1. This threatens consumer loyalty if produce repeatedly arrives rotten or packaging has been damaged during transport.
According to a Prosper Insights & Analytics’ survey, 7.7 percent of U.S. consumers had shopped for groceries online in the 30 days prior to the survey which is up from 5.7 percent two years before. Much of that increase comes from Millennials (people born between 1977 and 19952) and members of Generation X (individuals born between 1965 and 19762) with one in 10 reportedly online grocery shopping in 20163. With the rate of online grocery shopping on the rise, grocery retailers need to evaluate their supply chain with an experienced 3PL that can ensure product integrity and keep customers coming back week after week.
Keeping it Chill
Grocery stores throw away and lose the chance to sell 1.33 billion pounds of food each year4 making temperature-controlled and refrigerated solutions major factors in product integrity. Temperature control can come in many forms including warehouses, trailers, intermodal containers, and even global shipping containers5. End-to-end supply chain providers with experience in temperature control can keep food at the ideal temperature for everything from ice cream to produce, resulting in satisfied and loyal consumers.
Automation and supply chain transparency can ease the process for shippers and provide the assurance that products will arrive in their desired state. A 3PL leveraging the right technology can provide remote temperature monitoring and alerts if temperatures deviate from the desired window. This also includes door-opening notifications that could allow cold to escape3.
Stay Compliant with Regulation Experts
When dealing with food, many regulations are in place to ensure product integrity and prevent food borne illnesses. Effective April 2017, large businesses are required to comply with the Food and Drug Administration’s Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The rule put regulation in place for the safe transport and handling of consumable products. Within FSMA, shippers will be responsible for identifying proper transport temperatures. Additionally, carriers must manage vehicle maintenance records and driver procedure training documentation. The carrier must also ensure the sanitation of any trailers after a load and provide documented proof of the cleaning6.
With ever-evolving regulations and the need to stay compliant to keep business moving, 3PLs provide expertise to ensure operations are current with regulations, ensure shipments meet proper standards, and minimize potential supply chain disruption. With personnel and processes in place to manage regulation change, partnering with a 3PL can ensure continual regulation compliance. A dedicated fleet operation can give shippers peace-of-mind knowing all drivers are properly trained and documentation is met while providing consistent capacity.
As technology continues to evolve and shopping habits adjust, supply chain agility with a 3PL partner can keep a shipper at the front of the grocery industry. Understanding the need for product integrity, a provider with specialized solutions in temperature control can deliver and store product that helps maintain loyal customers with the freshest goods. An end-to-end supply chain partner can provide the flexibility needed to transport and store products in a safe manner. Knowing that each shipper is unique, a 3PL can deliver solutions for a company’s specific business needs while ensuring the safe transportation and storage of any food product.