The industry of commerce is a universe that changes constantly and that maintains a never-stopping pace towards evolution. Companies are reinventing themselves daily to meet the demands of new customers who are now more educated, more involved and more aware about innovation and the competitiveness that it creates among companies. The truth is, organizations are now more than ever listening to customers and finding ways to outdo each other on their commitment to meet their demands and to fulfill their ever growing needs.
The interesting thing about the food industry is that is highly sensitive to these changes, perhaps more than any other industry out there, and with that being said it is important to recognize that this is the reason why popular trends today are becoming so popular in the form of kit cooking, delivered fresh meals, online food shopping, a growth in the demand for freshly grown local organic products and new apps that have even changed the way we order food through our phones.
Today’s supply chain continues to be based upon outdated models in which convenience, low costs, and standard procedures are priorities that were to be considered to the utmost importance and that would definitely dictate the inner workings of the supply chain.
Nowadays, the focus has shifted greatly and while cost and accessibility continue to be significant factors that drive the progress of the supply chain, they are no longer the most sought after indicators considered by companies. Customers today look for convenience in different standards by wanting products to be personalized with a high degree of customization and also for items that are produced locally and under strict guidelines, which take into account the conservation of the environment and the patronage of companies that allow for a minimization in transportation efforts.
It is important to notice that perhaps dining habits are changing. People today more than ever, are truly concerned with the food they put in the bodies in terms of its health value, the variety of products consumed and the places where said products come from. Diet habits today are driving people away from mass-produced products and towards alternatives that are fresher and that have traveled less miles from the farm to their plate. People who have dietary restrictions due to health issues or personal preferences are forcing the market to include products that before used to be considered luxuries and making them staple goods that should be available everywhere without having to jump through hoops in order to get them. Something else to consider is the fact that people today prefer local and will go to great lengths to ensure they support local farmers and locally produced food that will stimulate the economy and thus modify the way the supply chain needs to be managed to meet those needs.
Customers today are very particular about not just having food of great quality and that meets the factors we previously mentioned, but also they want to be able to get that food where they want it and exactly when they desire. People no longer go to the supermarket and simply satisfy their needs with the selection they find available. They become loyal customers of places that not only offer the specific products they want, but that also have delivery options, customization choices and the ability to make the transaction more agile like fast pick up options. Order fulfillment is a big deal with technological advances that will soon order food without you even having to move a finger. Imagine a refrigerator that knows when you are low on milk and will put in an order to your grocery store and notify you to pick it up on the way home or simply have it delivered at your door. These types of special services are no longer wishful thinking and they will become what makes the difference between retailers that continue to do business and those that get left behind.
An aspect like demographics is no longer a true indicator of which products should be available in which locations. Divisions created by stratification and generational gap are becoming blurrier each year and retailers have to adapt to this homogenization of the customer. Urban areas are more densely packed than ever and that is why companies have to come up with better alternatives to be able to deliver products to these demanding customers that grow in number each year. The requirements for shipping and delivery services are higher than they have ever been.
Recently, here in David Kiger’s Blog, we talked about Amazon’s recent purchase and partnership with whole foods and what it means for the industry. We now have one of the most exclusive grocery stores in the nation being absorbed by the kings of logistics. Just imagine what Amazon can be accomplished by upholding the reputation that Whole Foods has, paired with their ability to deliver and their impeccable customer service. Only great surprises seem to wait in the horizon.
* Featured Image courtesy of Stokpic at Pexels.com