Published on November 16, 2023, 6:57 pm

Ida, a new French startup, aims to revolutionize the way supermarkets and grocery stores manage their fresh product orders. By leveraging generative AI technology, Ida plans to optimize the reordering process for items like fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish.

Currently, grocery stores rely on error-prone order sheets with multiple columns representing their reordering schedules. This leads to inefficiencies resulting in both food waste and shortages. Supermarkets are either losing money or missing out on potential revenue opportunities.

Mateo Beacco, co-founder and CEO of Ida, explained that store employees responsible for fresh produce have to go through these paper sheets line by line, referencing past sales data to make informed guesses about which items need to be reordered. However, with turnover rates increasing in these positions, it becomes challenging for even experienced individuals to accurately predict demand consistently.

To address this problem, Ida developed a tablet app connected to a sales forecasting algorithm. By combining human expertise with AI guidance, Ida provides grocers with the tools they need to reorder fresh products effectively. While the focus is currently on vegetables and fruits, Ida plans to expand its services to include other perishable goods like meat and fish.

What sets Ida apart is its unique approach to inventory management. Instead of relying solely on point-of-sale data as traditional systems do (which doesn’t work well for perishable items), Ida generates probabilistic inventories that take real-life scenarios into account. For example, organic cucumber sales are mixed with non-organic cucumber sales since cashiers generally don’t differentiate between them at the checkout counter. Additionally, parameters such as weather conditions, seasonality, prices, competing grocery stores in the area, and special offers are considered when forecasting demand.

Using this comprehensive forecasting data along with inventory optimization algorithms under constraints (such as ordering specific quantities), Ida generates accurate recommendations for grocers. While staff members have the flexibility to review and make manual adjustments, Ida estimates that 70 to 75% of its suggestions are accurate and require no further modifications.

Once the ordering process is finalized, Ida generates order forms for both the central purchasing office and local producers. The tablet app also allows for easy integration with multiple suppliers, enabling efficient order management.

Ida’s innovative solution could have a significant impact on how grocery stores manage their fresh inventory. Similar startups like Guac in the U.S. are also exploring this vertical, offering software solutions to optimize the logistics of perishable goods. With the potential to improve profit margins and reduce environmental impact, it’s likely that more supermarkets will adopt these types of AI-driven systems in the future.

As technology continues to advance, the CIOs of grocery store chains may find themselves embracing generative AI as a way to enhance their operations, streamline processes, and reduce waste. By leveraging data-driven insights from AI algorithms, they can make more accurate predictions about customer demand while focusing on sustainability and profitability. The era of smarter supermarket inventory management may be just around the corner.

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