Automation software and technology are making it possible for small grocery stores to remain efficient, reduce waste, increase store profits, and stay competitive against big-box retailers.
But what should store owners automate? How do you automate a grocery store?
Store owners can start by automating administrative tasks, inventory management, and even store packaging. You can also use grocery automation software to automate TPR spreadsheets, and alert your team of out-of-stocks.
Automating the manual tasks will create a more efficient workflow, lower operational costs, reduce store waste, and provide an excellent customer experience.
Keep reading to see how you can start automating your grocery store.
Automating Your Grocery Store: Benefits & Use Cases
Independent grocers are seeing the benefits of using new technology and software to automate their stores’ manual workflows and processes.
Why? Because they know the largest grocery store chains like Walmart, Albertsons/ SafeWay, and Kroger are using the same technology to reduce workforce waste, save time, and increase their profit margins.
Top Benefits of Automating Your Store with Technology:
- Helps your pricing team work faster & more efficiently
- Speeds up time-consuming manual tasks
- Allows your team to focus on customer service activities
- Drives more sales and increases profit margins
- Increases your store’s overall performance
- Improves shelf conditions
Areas to Automate in Your Grocery Store:
Automation can help almost every aspect of your grocery store. Here are some areas store owners use automation for:
- Administration & staffing
- TPR pricing
- Reporting & forecasting
- Financial operations
The good news is that you don’t have to automate everything at once and spend a huge amount of money upfront.
You can start by automating a few key processes and then take what you learn and go from there. Below are some ideas to get you started.
Grocery Store Automation Roadmap:
First, start with simple administrative tasks.
For example, assigning daily workloads, managing staff, and training employees can take up a lot of your time. You can create standard operating procedure (SOP) documents with images and procedure steps as the first part of new employee training. They can read through the SOPs even before they head out on the department floor and start shadowing another employee. The SOPs can be simple word documents stored on a flash drive or on a computer.
If you want to take it a step further, you can purchase a learning management system (LMS) which will keep all your training material on a website and present it in a more learnable way for new employees.
Second, you can start automating your spreadsheets & reporting.
Manually updating spreadsheets can be a thing of the past if you use grocery automation software. It can completely replace your current TPR spreadsheets, track the movement of all your items, and even alert you of potential out-of-stocks or issues.
Finally, you can tackle automating your inventory management systems.
Why is it important to automate your inventory management? Let’s talk about it.
If you can avoid holding too much stock, then you can reduce storage costs and waste. It also helps you provide better customer service since you will be less likely to run out of products. There is real-time inventory management software you can use to manage your inventory and supply chain. For example, grocery automation software can be set up to monitor stock levels and then automatically place orders when your stock runs low. This provides you with the opportunity to drastically improve your store's efficiency, which leads to an increase in profitability.
6 Simple Steps to Start the Automation Process
Fully automating your grocery store is a big task and involves investing capital to achieve. However, implementing automation should be done step-by-step and one process at a time.
If you manage or own a grocery store and would like to boost its efficiency and profitability, here are 6 steps you can take:
1. Use New Technology
Find a trustworthy technology partner that can help you implement automated systems into your business.
Grocery automation software is a great place to start.
It’s a technology that helps grocery stores automate their manual tasks and processes, reduce human errors, price products accurately, and more.
Typically, stores see a 1-2% increase in their margins when they invest in grocery automation technology in less than a year. Most grocers even see immediate results within 60 days after starting.
2. Start by Automating Repetitive Processes
Identify repetitive tasks and work toward automating them. This could be tasks such as placing simple orders or putting your payroll systems onto the cloud. You will avoid human error and increase your efficiency.
3. Get Team Buy-In
It can be challenging to get your staff on board with implementing new technology in your store. Some employees will fear they will be out of a job because of it. While job responsibilities will certainly change for most of your employees, you need to present this to them as an opportunity to make their jobs better by having to do fewer mundane tasks.
4. Make Small But Impactful Changes
Focus on making small changes that will have a measurable impact. If successful, this will prove to your staff (and to you) that automation is beneficial for everyone.
Making small changes one at a time will help your staff see just how beneficial automation is.
An example of a small but impactful change would be automating those smaller administrative tasks. Employees will experience a great benefit behind the change but see there is still plenty of work to be done.
5. Measure Everything You Do
Make sure you record and measure everything that you do. You will be able to double down on what works and improve what doesn’t. It will be especially useful if you have other stores that you want to automate in the future.
Don’t stop once you’ve gotten to the point where most of your store’s processes have been automated. Keep looking for ways to optimize every process and you’ll almost certainly find new efficiencies.
What do we mean by this? Let’s talk about it!
Automation is a great step toward the future and it needs to be taken seriously, but not every little task can be automated.
There are still plenty of ways you can optimize your store.
For example, regular employee training is a great way to continue optimizing your store.
Current Grocery Stores Implementing Automation Software & How It’s Benefiting Their Sales
Most grocery stores have implemented some sort of automation software system while others have gone even further.
Take a look below.
US Grocery Stores Taking the Next Step in Automation
These stores are making big advancements with AI systems and it won’t be long before grocery stores near you are starting these same trends.
Smaller independent grocers need to begin automating their business if they want to remain a competitor in the industry.
By automating your business, you’ll create a more compelling shopping experience for your customers and boost your bottom line by creating efficiencies in your business systems and processes.