Food retailers are under mounting pressure to reimagine physical stores in order to keep pace with consumer needs and wants. According to McKinley, the pandemic, combined with evolving customer preferences and macroeconomic trends, has converged to reshape the traditional role of food retailers. As supermarkets continue to adapt, technology is crucial for success. To contend with issues like staffing shortages, food safety concerns, and high energy prices, food retailers can harness the power of the Internet of Things (IoT), specifically connected equipment, to improve operations.
Turning to IoT
Supermarkets have evolved into large, complicated operations that rely on high-level facility performance and a wide range of critical equipment in order to be successful. To support this growth, food retailers can harness the power of a connected facility to keep customers comfortable, maintain food safety, and stem energy waste.
In addition to HVAC and refrigeration units, many food retailers are also implementing other types of equipment (think ghost kitchens, air purification units, and more) to further growth and increase revenue. Using IoT can reduce costs, enhance operational efficiencies, and make it possible to achieve operational objectives with increased ease.
Here are six ways connected equipment is modernizing food retail.
1. Back-of-House Technology
Supermarkets have the ability to leverage IoT throughout their entire operation. However, with the boom of ghost kitchens, prepared food bars, and grocerants (the nickname some use for restaurants operating inside grocery stores), using connected equipment has become more important than ever for back-of-house operations. There is now ample opportunity to use automation and analytics as tools to enhance equipment performance, streamline operations, and save money.
2. Equipment Maintenance
With greater visibility over things like refrigeration units, HVAC systems, lighting, and kitchen equipment, supermarkets can shift from reactive to proactive equipment maintenance. A broader facility overview, paired with key insights into critical equipment enables grocers to spot equipment issues in real-time.
3. Automated Alerts
Automated alerts catch equipment failure before it happens. This enables food retailers to make preventative repairs to ensure catastrophic failures do not occur.
4. Energy Consumption
With connected equipment, food retailers can reduce energy consumption through better visibility into equipment on/off usage patterns and the ability to take corrective actions.
5. Food Spoilage and Safety
According to RetailWire, IoT could be the key to ending food spoilage in grocery stores. Supermarkets can reduce spoilage and increase food safety by using temperature tracking, real-time alerts, and digital checklists. For example, solutions like Open Kitchen enhance operational efficiencies and improve food and facility safety.
6. Shelf Life
Using fresh preservation technology controlled through Open Kitchen helps supermarkets by extending the shelf life of perishable items. Bluezone by Middleby keeps refrigeration environments free of damaging contaminants that cause produce to deteriorate prematurely. The unit uses UV-enhanced oxidation to eliminate 99.9 percent of mold and bacteria as well as ethylene gas in walk-in refrigerators. Through this process, Bluezone not only extends shelf life, reduces waste, and protects profits but also cleans the air, which has become more important than ever during the global pandemic.
While supermarkets provide an essential service today more than ever, investments in technology are no longer optional. In order to meet the growing and changing needs of consumers, food retailers can turn to IoT and connected equipment to improve customer experience and help their bottom line.
Interested in learning more about how connected equipment can modernize your food retail operations? Start a conversation with a member of our team.