Customer Stories

How IT leaders can champion better experiences in fresh

Customer Stories

How IT leaders can champion better experiences in fresh

Every grocer’s IT department plays a significant role in driving operational efficiency and companywide innovation. Leaders like Maria Latushkin, GVP of Technology at Engineering at Albertsons Companies, now have the opportunity to champion innovative new strategies that leverage technology to improve outcomes. We sat down with Latushkin to discuss the complex nature of grocers’ technology ecosystems and the ways specialized solutions simplify operations and deliver better experiences.

Here’s some of what what we learned:

Once seen as a cost center, IT leaders now drive critical innovation across the dynamic and competitive grocery landscape. Read on to learn how partnering with Afresh is driving meaningful bottom-line improvements that create better results for customers and the business.

When you start thinking about this delicate balance [of fresh operations], you quickly come to a conclusion that you need to have something that's more specialized. We opted to work with Afresh because this is what Afresh does and this is what Afresh is excellent at.

How IT teams play a critical role in grocery retail innovation

While grocers have traditionally believed that fewer systems are better, relying on that philosophy introduces far more failure points and creates roadblocks to future innovation. As companies pursue digital transformation and adapt to constant shifts in demand, IT teams have taken on a much more formative role in defining the organization’s priorities. Tech leaders like Latushkin are now in the perfect position to find and implement the right solution for every part of the business.

When I joined the grocery world, one of the things that I found very humbling is how imperfect and messy grocery data inherently is. If you're dealing with something that is going to be unique in some way, then you want to make sure that you don't shortchange your business by trying to fit your requirements in what's available as pieces of another system.

Why every grocer needs a specialized solution for fresh

To be the best in fresh, stores need the best technology for fresh. Creating customer-winning fresh experiences requires deep insight, complex calculations, and constant flexibility. Grocery retailers understand that fresh operations are incredibly intricate, especially as seasons change and customer tastes shift. Latushkin knew Albertsons needed a solution built for the nuances and challenges of perishables, like seasonality.

When we think about the technology ecosystem, a starting point is usually having fewer systems is better. In this case, we actually saw that introducing a different system is a benefit because of the intricacies of fresh.

Why perfect data isn’t actually necessary to make good decisions

Legacy systems need perfect data in order to function, but this quickly breaks down in the messy and imperfect world of fresh data. When technology that’s built for center store is used in fresh, managers end up spending hours correcting inputs and rewriting orders just to make the system happy.

As humans we really don't need perfect data to make good decisions, yet a lot of our legacy systems expect this perfection in the data that makes the whole chain really fragile.

With so much on their plates already, in-store and IT teams both need technology that integrates easily, requires little maintenance, and embraces the dynamics of fresh. For Latushkin, Afresh stands out as a solution that works with imperfect data to make the best possible decision every time.

How better technology in fresh leads to better outcomes for employees, too

Grocery retailers need modern solutions that are flexible and don’t require years of experience to use. But in the past, IT leaders have struggled to find technology that actually drives efficiency and better margins. Having a modern solution that makes a meaningful difference in the day-to-day work of employees is also a key factor in retention and labor efficiency.

As Latushkin notes, Albertsons isn’t looking to automate everything – it wants to amplify the power of associates. In alignment with that, Afresh delivers better results with an easy-to-use app that employees trust and get excited to use.

Adoption was one of those things that made my life really easy. Since it's so intuitive [and] so easy to use, we didn't have to have a lot of ramp up time and change management with our associates, and they were excited to use it. We had people asking when the next store is going to be rolled out.

Just as leaders like Latushkin have discovered, putting the right solution for fresh into the hands of fresh teams delivers far more than bottom-line improvements. Rather than taking a “fewer systems is better” approach, true innovation happens when companies invest in the right tool for the job. The bottom line is this: Retailers that transform their supply chain with built-for-fresh technology will find that experiences for everyone are far better – giving grocers the opportunity to capture market share and drive true innovation across their business.

 “[With Afresh], we find that our shelves are fuller, our backrooms are cleaner, and associates are really loving the system, which is music to my ears as somebody who's responsible for system rollouts.”

Hear firsthand from Maria about why Albertsons leverages fresh-first technology

Find out why IT leaders love Afresh with a personalized demo. Book yours here.

About the author

Related Stories