ICYMI: Digital Operations in Retail

  • July 1, 2018
  • Scott

Tom Wilger’s post on LinkedIn gives an example of digital operations in Retail.  He takes an every day problem and then describes how the current state of the art tech supports solving for it:

The kids are already home and everybody has one question on their mind. “What are we going to do for dinner?” […]

Ideally, what we really want to prepare (and eat) is based on a lot more factors.

  • How late did we get home?
  • What did we all eat for lunch?
  • Is it cold outside?
  • Do I have to get up at the crack of dawn early the next morning and fly to Austin?

In a perfect world, the answers to these questions would all factor in to the most important decision of day, “what’s for dinner?”

I’m like Tom – I don’t plan ahead for dinner often enough – and it shows when we get home and find ourselves eating PB&J sandwiches!  But we don’t have to rest on our laurels, we can imagine the future:

Now let’s see how an innovative grocery retailer with Digital Operations chops (sorry couldn’t resist the pun ;), might operationalize this, through a service we’ll call “What’s for Dinner?”.

Effectively, the grocer would have inventory on our refrigerator, pantry, and freezer, in addition to inventory from it’s own nearby store, and what is prioritized to move based on spoilage or oversupply.  We could have also given the store some information about our dietary preferences and restrictions.  Or favorite cookbooks…

An instant after the subscriber asks the concierge service “what’s for dinner”? The chat bot responds with three options:

  1. Risotto with diver scallops and fennel fronds
  2. Ramen with pancetta, green garlic and ginger
  3. Chicken tacos with chipotle salsa, shredded cabbage and lime

The subscriber, decides on the Risotto.

While he’s still driving home, the retailer packages up 5 diver scallops, cuts the tops off a bulb of fennel, wraps them up and gives them to their delivery driver who delivers the remaining ingredients to the subscriber’s home before he even pulls into the driveway.

[emphasis added]

What I love about this example is that all the tech exists to solve the problem – and the imagination is there as well!



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