Many more should to be supplementing the work they do with supermarkets, by adopting ‘omnichannel’ strategies, said software consultancy Columbus.
Omnichannel is a multichannel approach to sales that seeks to provide customers with a “seamless shopping experience”, whether it is shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a supermarket store, according to David Smith, head of digital for standards organisation GS1 UK.
We are now living in a far more complex retail environment in which technology had enabled the convergence of our physical and digital worlds, said Smith. “That means the digital representation of a product needs to be the same in potentially thousands of different places and that needs to be updated in all of those places at the same time,” he added.
Missing extra revenue
“During an age where consumerism is changing at a rapid pace and customers are demanding instant access to products, food manufacturers are missing a market channel and extra revenue if they are not embracing digital opportunities,” said Mary Hunter, md of Columbus.
Software developer Lansa has also stressed the importance of digital systems in maximising the value of information and product data that food companies hold.
In a recent webinar, Colin Griffiths, product information management consultant for Lansa, outlined how software could be used to share this data – both internally and externally – in an effective way. But, he noted, “to be useful, [that data] must be trusted”.
“For retailers, that trust means automated systems can make decisions without human beings. It therefore brings speed, it brings efficiency and it reduces risk and that is not just bricks and mortar and online ways of selling, it’s the content that drives some of those websites,” said Griffith.
“[For consumers to make] those decisions they need that information to be complete and accurate; to be able to trust that what they see on their app, on their online screens and, indeed on the front of the shelf edge, is complete.”
As supermarkets increasingly adopt omnichannel, a recent report from Rabobank, noted that food manufacturers were unprepared for the digital revolution, said Hunter.
“If food manufacturing businesses can get their IT infrastructure right, and optimise their back end systems with intelligent, integrated front-of-house and webstore solutions, there’s no reason why they can’t exercise greater control over their supply chains,” she added.