The Future of Fresh Fulfillment | Fresh Food Challenges

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Over the next few weeks, join ADC as we dive deeper into the future of fresh fulfillment. In this blog, we focus on why fresh food is a challenge.

More and more consumers are demanding fresh be part of the online offering, forcing food retailers to add fresh to their online strategy. However, for several reasons, many retailers struggle with offering their full fresh assortment digitally.

Here are 3 things to consider on why fresh food is an eCommerce challenge:

  1. Perishability: The most obvious reason why fresh is a challenge—perishability. Unlike the center store's packaged foods; fresh foods (deli, bakery, meat/seafood, dairy, produce, and the growing prepared food area of the store) have a significantly shorter shelf life. This short shelf life makes forecasting difficult, impacting the fresh quality and leading to more waste.

    That means logistics to keep food at its best are critical and must play a leading role in overcoming some of the fulfillment and delivery challenges facing fresh food eCommerce. The delivery or curbside pick-up windows must be more concise for fresh foods. Unlike a delivery of a new pair of shoes that can sit on a front porch for hours, a gallon of milk can’t be delivered in the morning when the shopper won’t be home until the evening.

  2. Personal Preference and Product Irregularities: A 2-liter of Coca-Cola is the same online as it is in-store, but most consumers would not say the same from one banana to the next. Bananas range in size and color. What one shopper deems the perfect banana might not be what another shopper would select. Is a banana too green or does it have too many brown spots? Each shoppers' personal preference on when the right time to buy a banana is can't always be relayed online.

    These differences in consumer preference along with product irregularities result in many shoppers still going in-store to buy their bananas and other fresh items even if they buy their center store items online.

  3. Prepared Foods: As many fresh items have become more commonplace online, the prepared and made-to-order foods many grocers are offering to grow sales, remain a complex digital offering. According to a Supermarket News article during the peak of the COVID pandemic when online sales were spiking, prepared food was one of the least bought product categories purchased online.

    One cause for this might be that many platforms don't have the recipe and inventory management capabilities required to properly facilitate made-to-order. If done correctly online, these restaurant-style items can increase basket size and can be a big differentiator for many stores to build brand loyalty with shoppers and open the door to new business. 

Stay tuned for more in the Future of Fresh Fulfillment series or click here to learn more about ADC's innovative grocery eCommerce Fulfillment platform.