Ida, an emerging French startup, aims to partner with supermarkets and grocery stores to enhance the ordering process for fresh items like fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafood. The company has successfully secured a $2.9 million seed investment from various investors.
Presently, grocery stores depend heavily on complex and often inaccurate order sheets for restocking, which unfortunately results in significant food waste and missed sales opportunities. These manual processes, reliant on extensive paperwork and estimation, are not only inefficient but also financially detrimental to stores.
Co-founder and CEO Mateo Beacco explains the current method: a store manager manually reviews inventory, making subjective decisions based on factors like weather or personal intuition. For example, choosing to order a certain quantity of eggplants based on a favorable weather forecast. This approach, while grounded in experience, is prone to errors and inconsistencies.
While experienced grocery store staff do use historical trends to make informed decisions about restocking items like strawberries, the high turnover rate in these positions and the daily variability make accuracy a constant challenge.
This is where Ida seeks to revolutionize the process. The startup has developed a tablet application that integrates a sales forecasting algorithm, designed to assist store personnel in determining the optimal time to reorder fresh products. This technology is particularly beneficial for managing perishable goods, an area that has traditionally been less predictable compared to non-perishable items like cereal, where inventory tracking is more straightforward due to barcodes and digital sales records.
What did IDA focus upon?
Initially focusing on fruits and vegetables, Ida plans to eventually extend its services to include other perishable sections such as meats and fish. This expansion represents a significant step towards improving inventory management in supermarkets, a sector where accurate prediction of demand for perishable items has been a longstanding challenge.
Ida's approach to inventory management goes beyond just analyzing sales data at the point of sale, which is often insufficient for accurately tracking perishables like fruits and vegetables. The company employs a more sophisticated method, creating a probabilistic inventory model. This model considers various real-life scenarios, providing a more nuanced and realistic view of stock levels and demand. By incorporating these diverse factors, Ida's system aims to offer a more accurate and effective tool for managing perishable goods in grocery stores.
Ida's innovative inventory system, as explained by CEO Mateo Beacco, utilizes a probabilistic approach to tackle common challenges in grocery inventory management. For example, the system accounts for discrepancies like organic cucumbers being incorrectly recorded as non-organic at checkout. It also considers the varying shelf lives of different products, like the longer storage life of potatoes versus the quick spoilage of cherries.
This probabilistic method provides grocery stores with an estimated count of items like cucumbers, streamlining inventory management. Staff can adjust these estimates as needed, ensuring accuracy.
Furthermore, Ida's technology incorporates over a hundred variables, along with three years of historical sales data, to accurately predict product demand. This includes factors like weather, seasonal trends, local competition, pricing, and promotional activities.
Lastly, Ida's system assists in creating precise reorder lists for upcoming orders. It enables stores to set a 'safety stock' level, ensuring they have sufficient inventory without the risk of overstocking. This balance is crucial for managing perishable goods efficiently and economically.
Ida represents a burgeoning movement in the retail sector, particularly in the realm of inventory management for fresh products. As a new entrant, Ida is just beginning to make its mark. Similar startups, like Guac in the United States, are also addressing this niche, indicating a growing trend towards leveraging technology for more efficient grocery management.
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