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As we head into winter, it's time for retailers to discover the spellbinding secrets digital transformation has to offer. Explore our blog below for the ultimate Halloween tricks and treats..

The scary combination of interest rates rising, the continued cost of living crisis, and energy bills skyrocketing, means that it is more critical than ever for retailers to increase efficiencies and lower operational costs. Fortunately, supermarkets aren’t reliant on mystical Halloween magic to save the day…

Instead, advanced technology, data analysis, and process optimisation are the real scream behind the scenes that is helping retailers drive efficiencies, ensure the safety, quality, and longevity of produce, and minimise machine failures to ensure supermarkets are not haunted by operational inefficiencies.

Enjoy the IMS top tricks, and the subsequent treats, for retailers below!  

Trick 1: Don’t be afraid of devilish data – Data shouldn’t be scary. For retailers wanting to drive efficiencies across their estate and optimise operational processes – such as reducing energy consumption or enhancing maintenance regimes – collecting and monitoring machine and process data from previously untapped, mission-critical equipment, such as refrigeration, lighting, and HVAC, is key.  

This can be a huge volume of data – and a bloodcurdling thought for retailers – but the right technology partner with embedded industry expertise and advanced technology will do the heavy lifting for you. Through data-driven strategies, the health and performance of these machines can be effectively monitored and managed, and the treat of automatic action can be taken to drive efficiencies in real-time.

Trick 2: Don’t send a chill down your spine - A retailers core business purpose is to provide consumers with access to safe and quality produce. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that perishable goods are transported, stored, and displayed in optimum conditions to ensure it is safe, of top quality, readily available, and has the longest shelf life possible. Traditionally, retailers had no choice but to adopt extremely conservative cooling strategies to ensure the safety of food. This meant cooling all products to the minimum temperature required by the most susceptible food product (meat), which results in the unnecessary overcooling of many products. This not only adversely impacts that products quality, but also leads to avoidable energy consumption and costly operational costs.

However, Internet of things (IoT) technology now has the capability to track and align refrigeration assets with the exact produce within each unit. By extracting the real-time machine health and performance data, contextualising this with merchandising systems, and having control over the temperature settings of each unit, IoT software can ensure fridges and freezers are running at the correct temperature for the specific products within each unit.

The treat for retailers who take a smarter approach to cooling? They can reduce the overchilling of products by millions of degrees which saves energy whilst also ensuring and enhancing the quality and longevity of food to ultimate minimising waste. It sounds spookily sustainable too!

Trick 3: Sound the alarm - Food retail environments consist of many mission-critical assets, including HVAC systems, refrigeration units, and lighting. In the highly competitive food retail industry, where reputation and consumer trust are vital, the uninterrupted operation of these assets is indispensable for the success, profitability, and reputation of the business. Furthermore, ensuring availability of these assets ensure retailers core deliverables are met, such as the preservation of perishable goods, maintaining optimal temperature and humidity conditions, creating a welcoming and safe shopping environment, and protecting operational costs.

Faults, failures, and downtime of these machines are a continuous threat to retailers. The integration of an IoT layer on top of existing assets can not only mean that health and performance can be monitored, but that irregular changes or a deviation from configured conditions can be identified and flagged in real-time. When asset behaviours demonstrate warnings of performance failure or deviate from ideal conditions, automatic fixes can be enacted by the software, or alerts can be triggered for engineer intervention.

By proactively managing the performance and health of assets, retailers can safeguard the deliverables and integrity of their machines while mitigating catastrophic breakdowns and further negative consequences, such as stock loss or excessive energy use – what a treat!

While these solutions sound magical, retailers don’t need to rely on mystic forces to deliver optimised operations and increased efficiencies. In fact, the barriers to digital transformation have never been lower. Ground-breaking technology, like the IMS solution, offers a controls agnostic approach, meaning it can integrate seamlessly across all types of devices.

By removing the need to invest in costly new hardware, retail technology is becoming a lot less scary and can ensure that retailers are getting a lot more treats rather than tricks going forward.