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The Future of Grocery Supply Chains

Grocery supply chains have been around for centuries, with the first supermarkets appearing in the early 1900s. Stores grew quickly, and there was a need for storing cold and dry groceries to restock as needed. Since then, the grocery industry has evolved considerably, with new technologies and automated storage solutions transforming how groceries are sourced, stored, and sold.

Now, the grocery industry is in the midst of another significant shift. Innovative automated storage solutions are making operations more efficient and cost-effective. This transition considerably impacts the industry and will only continue to grow worldwide to make grocery shopping a seamless process for consumers. This blog post will explore the future of grocery supply chains and discuss how they are changing with automated storage solutions.

The Growth of Online Grocery Shopping

More people are purchasing their groceries online thanks to the convenience and ease of use. According to Nielsen and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), online grocery sales are expected to reach $143 billion by 2025 from $55 billion in 2021 (see chart below). That’s a massive increase from $3 billion in 2009 (Statistica).

Online Grocery Shopping

This record growth will have a major, direct impact on supply chains. As online grocery shopping becomes more popular, the need for more efficient supply chains will increase. Grocery stores will need to find ways to get products to customers quicker and more accurately. An innovative solution could involve investing in micro-fulfillment “dark stores,” automated picking, and last-mile delivery solutions.

The rise of Amazon and other online retailers has created a new landscape for grocery stores (a concept deemed “The Amazon Effect”). To compete, grocery store chains are adapting their supply chains to be automated and offer same-day or next-day delivery to get products to consumers faster.

The Benefits of Automating Your Grocery Supply Chain

Space Optimization

Automated storage solutions allow grocery stores to stockpile more inventory in a smaller footprint, allowing more inventory to be stored in the current space. These storage solutions also fulfill the need for grocery supply chains to quickly and accurately restock shelves.

Customer Experience

Grocery stores strive to improve the in-store and online customer experience by meeting demands and improving satisfaction. When customers can quickly and easily find the items they need, they are more likely to be satisfied with their shopping experience. Automating your grocery supply chain can help accelerate the shopping experience for consumers.

Safety & Efficiency

Augmenting operations with automation increases safety, as workers don’t need to perform some of the more dangerous tasks and can focus on the higher-level warehouse needs, preventing injuries.

Grocery Supply Chains Storage Solutions

Pallet, Case & Piece-Picking

Automated grocery distribution and storage solutions offer simplicity, inventory control, and same-day delivery options without impacting store inventory. Automating the palletizing, case, and piece-picking processes will provide high-performance solutions that meet customer needs every time.

Modular Storage & Distribution

Storage and distribution centers must keep up with temperature control, different SKUs, and FDA regulations to safely store groceries. Mobile racks, pallet racks, auto-guided transport systems, and automated handling solutions will increase space and create ease of operations.

Cold Chain Storage & Grocery Supply Chains

The increase in frozen and cold storage in the grocery market has led to the need for cold storage holding areas, facilities, and options for online grocery orders. Pallet, case pick cold, and freezer storage solutions will provide space for the expansion of products and warehouse growth.


McMurray Stern’s strategic micro-fulfillment solutions allow quicker direct delivery, in-store, or curbside pickup. They deliver solutions for same-day delivery and products needing temperature control and speed. We have five different approaches to meet your needs and your customer’s demands, with each solution offering a different price option, rate, and speed:

  • Vertical Lift Modules (VLMs): organize and improve workflow, add flexibility, and choose from various models available.
  • Carousels: outstanding solution for handling small parts along with medium to slow-moving products, including cosmetics, electronics components, media, and food items.
  • Shuttle Systems: reliably moves containers and cartons weighing up to 35 kg, while the Flexi shuttle uses a modular concept, combining shuttles, lifts, and a racking system.
  • Pouch Sorters/Carriers: enable the accumulation, buffering, distributing, and sorting of goods. They allow for high throughput, are low maintenance, and have universal usage for goods weighing up to 3 kg.
  • HAIPICK Robots: offer intelligent picking and handling, autonomous navigation, active obstacle avoidance, and autonomous charging. Characterized by its high stability and high precision, the robot can replace the repetitive, time-consuming, and heavy manual storage and handling work.

Let’s Get Started! Automate Your Grocery Supply Chains

If you are interested in automating your grocery supply chain, McMurray Stern can help. We have spent years cultivating partnerships with key manufacturers and eliminating the need for multiple vendors on a project. As your single point of contact, we help save you time and money. 

We offer a variety of grocery supply chain automated solutions that can be customized to meet your needs. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you improve your grocery store’s efficiency!

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