4 Technologies Helping Grocers Tackle Waste

As a grocer, you know that full shelves mean healthy profits. You feel most confident when your grocery store is abundantly stocked with your customers’ go-to pantry staples, fresh produce, and hearty proteins. 

But there’s one place in your store that should stay empty: the dumpster. 

Experts report that nearly a staggering one-third of all food is wasted. Worst of all, most of this food is still edible when thrown away. 

That’s why a growing number of leaders in the grocery industry are setting goals to reduce their food waste

In this blog, we’ll share everything you need to know about this growing trend, including why grocers are prioritizing sustainability, the technologies they’re adopting, and why you should join them. 

Beyond the Bin: Why Today’s Grocers Are Working To Reduce Waste

Along with helping the planet, grocers have much to gain from going green. 

Stocking your store is expensive, and every ounce of food you throw away represents a financial loss. Waste reduction strategies can increase your gross profit margins and ensure that your investments turn into sales rather than trash.

Prioritizing sustainability can also boost your bottom line by expanding your grocery store’s customer base. Today’s shoppers want to support small businesses that share their values — and sustainability is one of their major concerns. 

By taking action to reduce waste and educating your community about your store’s efforts, you can increase trust in your brand, bring new customers through your door, and become your neighborhood’s most planet-friendly place to shop. 

The Challenges of Reducing Grocery Store Waste

While reducing your grocery store’s waste footprint is a worthwhile goal, it’s not without its challenges. 

If you overstock your store to meet customer demand, you’ll be left with wilted produce, spoiled dairy, and meat past its expiration date. On the other hand, if you understock your store to avoid waste, you’ll lose sales due to stockouts

Striking the right balance between these extremes can be tough — but not impossible. 

4 Innovative Tools Helping Grocers Be More Sustainable

Luke Henry, Vice President of IT Retail, suggests that grocery stores solve the complex and costly issue of waste by leveraging emerging technologies

He explains, “Waste is a challenging problem that was impossible to solve with technology for over 100 years. But now, with push racks, shelf cameras, and electronic shelf labels, we can get to the root of this problem and solve it.” 

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Let’s take a closer look at these new technologies and explore how you can use them to reduce your grocery store’s environmental impact. 

1. Sell Your Soon-To-Expire Perishables

The first technology on our list saves groceries from the garbage and expands your community’s access to affordable, nutritious foods. 

FlashFood is an app that notifies users when grocery stores in their area have discounted inventory that’s about to expire, allowing them to stock up, save money, and make a sustainable choice. 

As a FlashFood partner, you can attract these shoppers to your store, increase your perishable inventory turnover, and protect your bottom line from waste. 

This unique app is truly a win for budget-conscious grocery shoppers, grocery store owners, and the planet. 

2. Give Artificial Intelligence a Try

Auditing your grocery store’s waste, adjusting your inventory strategies, and keeping meticulous records of your inventory can be a painstaking process — but artificial intelligence tools designed for the grocery industry might be able to help. 

One of Luke Henry’s favorite AI tools for grocers is Wasteless, which uses deli scales to add dynamic labels to all perishable items. As the dates on the items age, the prices decrease, increasing your chance to make a sale before expiration. 

While implementing a tool like Wasteless might be a solid first line of defense, Henry notes that it shouldn’t be your only approach. He explains, “The problem with the Wasteless solution is that it changes consumer behavior by encouraging the sale of the item. But the ideal place to solve the waste problem is in orderings.”

Henry recommends two AI-powered tools for stocking your store more strategically: Afresh and Guac. These solutions review your store’s inventory data and identify where you’re losing the most product due to spoilage. With these insights, you can adjust your reordering process to prevent waste while keeping your store well-stocked. 

3. Invest in Cutting Edge Hardware

Alongside experimenting with these back-office software solutions, Henry suggests trying out some unique tools on the sales floor. His top three picks include push racks, shelf cameras, and electronic shelf labels. 

Let’s dive into each of these tools: 

  • Push racks: When a customer removes an item from your shelf, a push rack allows the next item to slide forward and take its place. This tool reduces waste by supporting a first in, first out (FIFO) approach, ensuring that your oldest items are always sold first. 
  • Shelf cameras: These smart cameras work together with software to constantly monitor your shelves and identify when products are running low. With the peace of mind these cameras provide, you’ll be able to avoid overstocking and waste while still preventing stockouts. 
  • Electronic shelf labels: Instead of manually replacing paper shelf labels when you’re running a deal, electronic shelf labels allow you to update product pricing instantly and from anywhere. These digital labels are particularly useful when your goal is to increase inventory turnover and avoid waste. 

Leveraging these tools will put your grocery store ahead of the curve in waste reduction and advanced inventory management

IT Retail guide to POS hardware

4. Rely on a Robust Point of Sale System

Finally, the most foundational step to reducing grocery store waste is relying on a powerful point of sale (POS) system. Your POS system should do the heavy lifting of managing your inventory, tracking every item from when it arrives at your store to when a customer purchases it. 

Without a POS system with robust inventory management features, you’ll have to manually count your stock and record it on paper or in a simple spreadsheet, leaving the door open to errors and spoilage. 

To avoid these problems, look for a grocery store POS solution with these key inventory tools: 

  • Real-time inventory tracking that lets you see your stock levels at any time, from anywhere
  • Scale integration that enables accurate tracking of meats, cheeses, and any other items sold by weight
  • Reporting and analytics that give you insights into your turnover metrics, bestselling products, and spoilage rate

Using a POS system with these features will set your grocery store up for success on your sustainability journey. 

How To Reduce Waste and Boost Profits in Your Grocery Store

Sustainability is crucial for success in today’s grocery industry — and if you’re going to keep up with this trend, you need the right tools.  

Your first step to reduce waste is to check out IT Retail, a POS solution designed specifically for grocers like you. With IT Retail, you’ll have access to advanced inventory management features and an expert team committed to your store’s success. 

See IT Retail in action by scheduling your live demo today.