The ultimate guide to building a fully automated supermarket (part 2)

January 16, 2023

Retail hasn’t been the same in recent years. The rise of eCommerce behemoths like Amazon is forcing grocery retailers to adopt agile and competitive business models. Businesses, hence, have no choice but to embrace automation.    

As a result, many supermarkets and grocery stores are now implementing automated systems to streamline their operations and increase efficiency. One of the most ambitious goals in this arena is to build a fully automated supermarket. A store where all back-end and front-end operations are handled automatically.  

Focusing on technology-driven customer experience initiatives is great. But what about automating back-office processes? When we talk about automation, this doesn’t always imply robotic automation. In most cases, it refers to using software to replace manual and labor-intense tasks, ensuring sure that all related operations are integrated into one unified system.

Automation on the customer experience side of the business is not enough

In retail, several processes can be automated to simplify and streamline operations. These include inventory management, supply change management, budgeting, and profitability analysis. These back-end operations have the potential to improve process efficiencies, reduce costs and boost the financial health of the business.  

Grocery retailers also need to adopt best practices for demand-driven planning for assortments and effective category management to keep up with the changing customer demands on the front end.  

To stay ahead of the curve and survive in the evolving retail industry, grocers must accelerate their digital transformation by investing in the right technologies. By opting for a digital-first approach, grocers can digitize and integrate their back-end operations, bridge any potential productivity and financial gaps, and drive growth for their business.  

In the end, seamless back-end operations also contribute toward delivering frictionless front-end customer experiences.    

Building a fully automated supermarket: Exploring the operational side

Not sure which business operations you should automate first? It can be overwhelming to decide, and we are here to help. Automation at the back-end starts with embracing end-to-end supply chain automation. These include automating supply chain management procedures such as warehouse management, inventory management, stock procurement and replenishment, and even some financial operations tasks.  

Without further ado, let’s look into some practical ways grocery retail businesses can automate these operations. Brace yourself to start your journey as a fully automated supermarket.  

1: Automate warehouse management procedures  

A very obvious step to embrace automation is to digitize warehouse management. The Warehouse Automation Global Market Report 2022 says that the warehouse automation market is expected to grow by $31.03 billion in 2026. In fact, warehouse automation is becoming a trump card for retailers that want to leg up the aggressively evolving competition.

Now let’s understand what automating warehouse management means. It starts with investing in a warehouse management system to automate manual processes, capture data, and manage inventory control operations. At the very basic, this solution speeds up order fulfillment and helps you keep track of your sales.  

Warehouse management system (WMS) software are of two types. A standalone WMS and an integrated one. An integrated WMS is usually an add-on from an Enterprise Resource Planning system such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP. A WMS optimizes 6 important warehouse operations. These include order receiving, put away, storage, order picking, packing, and shipping. The software integrates all this information into one system for complete visibility and tracking.

2: Invest in an Inventory management system

Any grocery retail business looking to scale must leverage an automated inventory management system as its go-to instrument. Of course, manual operations appeal to companies early on since the most important thing on the list is to avoid nonessential expenses. But automation is the only way out when inventory levels rise, and processes become more complex.  

Investing in an inventory management system is essential for retail automation. This platform provides grocery retailers real-time inventory data at all stages and locations. Besides tracking inventory, it also forecasts demands and automatically updates the database. Another important feature of an inventory management system is stock visibility. It lets you know what inventory you have and where it is located. This gives businesses an accurate view of the inventory for optimal order fulfillment, reduce shipment turnaround times, and minimize stockout problem.

3: Automate stock procurement and replenishment

Reordering products in time and ensuring satisfactory lead time while maintaining cost-effective inventory levels is a huge challenge. An effective stock replenishment strategy requires careful planning and a healthy inventory management strategy. To automate procurement and replenishment operations, investing in a vendor portal is a smart idea. It provides real-time visibility into product movements and customer’s needs.

It automates traditional ordering processing using data from suppliers’ and customers’ sides. This data includes sales, product transfers, and inventory levels. It reviews this information and sends inventory replenishment recommendations based on some set objectives. Once these recommendations are approved, it automatically sends the purchase orders to the supplier, and the cycle continues till the order is shipped.  

With such an efficient procurement replenishment system, a business can ensure higher in-stock percentages, strengthen relationships with distribution partners, increase sales and reduce operational costs.

4: Automate financial operations

Automating financial operations is just as important as any other business function. When the financial processes are functioning efficiently, decision-making becomes faster. Besides automating tedious tasks like invoice generation, expense allocation, payroll and bookkeeping, you can also automate back margin calculations and allocation and reduce the chances of human errors.

Wrapping Up

Investing in several different software on the journey to becoming a fully automated supermarket can be expensive. That’s why most retail businesses prefer investing in an all-in-one solution encompassing most of the aforementioned functionalities. One solution that fits the definition perfectly is Dynamics 365 Super and Hypermarkets Solution.

It is built on top of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations. The solution automates tedious processes of the grocery store supply chain, which include procurement, stock replenishment, complex warehousing operations, and more. Besides boosting operational efficiencies, this solution gives a detailed picture of the financial health of your business too.  

Now is the time to take the big step and reinvent how you manage your back-end operations. So how do you prepare your business for automation? Shoot an email to us at to connect with experts. They help you determine where automation best fits into your current business model.