In an effort to boost supply on physical shelves, distribution platform Pod Foods has launched a data-driven discovery engine that is intended to make "the infinite shelf" a reality for grocery retailers. The new engine connects any retailer, in any location, with Pod Foods' infinite warehouse of emerging brands, along with its software and data-enriched warehousing and fulfillment platform.
As a patent-pending "Virtualized Wholesaler," Pod Foods can support an infinite array of products, regardless of historical SKU velocity. As a result, customers can continuously reset their product assortment and expand their inventory based on consumer demand – in real time, with minimal risk and accelerated speed to shelf. This closes the gap between brick-and-mortar retailers and their online counterparts, providing a critical advantage for the grocery industry in the face of ongoing global supply chain challenges, increased competition from digital delivery services, and changing consumer expectations.
"Retailer success depends on assortment. Buyers must procure products their customers want and deliver them in the right format, at the right price, place and time," said Larissa Russell, CEO and co-founder of San Francisco-basedPod Foods. "It is harder for brick-and-mortar retailers to compete with e-commerce businesses on assortment because they have limited real estate — they have to optimize physical space instead of online space. It's even more challenging when everyone is relying on behemoth broad-line distributors that also have limited real estate and fall short on data enrichment. Our engine provides both offline and online retailers with targeted access to our 'infinite warehouse,' making it possible for them to keep shelves and/or fulfillment centers physically stocked with the most relevant products."
The engine is powered by the company's Pod Bytes data platform, which synthesizes data from its B2B marketplace, economic indicators, and other grocery-adjacent and third-party sources. The built-for-grocery models provide retailers with personalized, artificial intelligence-enabled insights across all areas of discovery, including product placement/procurement, inventory optimization and market opportunity. The result is access to an endless yet personalized assortment of products, targeted to each retailer based on consumer purchasing behavior, desired retail margins, local trends and more. Retailers can easily adapt and procure inventory demand in real time, ensuring that their shelves are always filled with the products their customers want.
"What matters most now is providing a relevant assortment along with customer personalization. Retailers that can shelve the right products will win the business. This engine will provide retailers a specifically curated product list supported by a data-driven robust logistics network, all while fulfilling procurement and delivery needs required by the industry," said Fiona Lee, co-founder and chief product officer of Pod Foods. "An infinite shelf cannot be supported by a finite warehouse. As our engine learns with real-time transactions and years of historical data, we'll be able to match the goals of retail partners in any market where they operate."
"Pod Foods has been a phenomenal guide to us when it comes to introducing new items," noted Melissa Becht, of Standard Market, a Chicago-based retailer.
Shoppers are on the lookout for new grocery products. According to Irvine, Calif.-based business solutions provider Advantage Sales, more than 60% of the 1,056 consumers it surveyed early this month said that they’d purchased at least one food or nonfood grocery item for the first time in the past three months — and almost 90% of those shoppers said that they’d buy their latest product discovery again.
Female-led Pod Foods is a tech-enabled, data-driven full-service distribution solution, reaching retailers and brands via a B2B wholesale marketplace. Using the platform, food retailers can easily procure from emerging brands and receive orders in a consolidated fashion via an optimized logistics network. In-store marketing support, data analytics and online recommendations bring visibility to emerging brands, accelerating sales so retailers and manufacturers alike can sell more, more easily.