The secret to smarter fresh-food replenishment? Machine learning

With machine-learning technology, retailers can address the common—and costly—problem of having too much or too little fresh food in stock.Fresh food, already a fiercely competitive arena in grocery retail, is becoming an even more crowded battleground. Discounters, convenience-store chains, and online players are recognizing the power of fresh-food categories to drive store visits, basket size, and customer loyalty. With fresh products accounting for up to 40 percent of grocers’ revenue and one-third of cost of goods sold, getting fresh-food retailing right is more important than ever.1 1.Raphael Buck and Arnaud Minvielle, “A fresh take on food retailing,” Perspectives on retail and consumer goods, Winter 2013/14. It’s also more complex than ever. Fresh food is perishable, demand is highly variable, and lead times are often uncertain. Furthermore, many retailers now carry…

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