Our Newsletter:
Traceability Insider

August 2014
How Digitization is About to Change the Rules of Your Business

June 2014
Food Waste, We are Fed Up, and a Gladson Case Study

May 2014
Ag Tech and the Power of Catchy Criticism

March 2014
Labels are Soooo 1990, “Thorny” food labeling law

January 2014
Oxymoronic Grocery Predictions and Big Data for the Produce Industry

December 2013
The Gift of Growing – Helping Kids Get Their Hands Dirty!

November 2013
Produce Brand Strategy, Visibility and Transparency

September 2013
A "Lean" Supply Chain, Knowing your Shopper

April 2013
Food Waste, The Rolling Stones, Raley's, and Tanimura & Antle

March 2013
First Look! FDA Releases IFT Traceability Report and Lessons from Europe's Horsemeat Crisis Every Fresh Food Brand Should Learn

January 2013
What Does the Future Hold?

September 2012
"Locale" Produce and Reducing the Impact of Recalls

January 2012
Making the Case for Traceability

September 2011
GTINs – the Devil Is in the Details

August 2011
Turbocharge Mobile Marketing with HarvestMark and QR Codes

May 2011
Traceability Insider

January 2011
It's a New Year. What's the latest on PTI?

May 2010
HarvestMark Makes its VoiceCode™ Solution Open Source

December 2009
IFT Publishes Traceability Report for FDA

Holiday Issue 2009
What Happened at the FDA/USDA Hearing on Food Traceability

September 2009
Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food

August 2009
How to Avoid Synching Without Trace

July 2009
What's the Value of PTI?

May 2009
Case-Level and Item-Level Traceability-What You Need to Know

April 2009
Still Have Questions about PTI? Don't Worry, You're Not Alone

March 2009
PTI, GS1, GTIN, GLN? HarvestMark's Got the FAQs

January 2009
The First PTI Milestone is Around the Corner

December 2008
A Pivotal Year for Food Safety

November 2008
FDA Solicits Public Comment on Enhanced Produce Traceability

October 2008
Produce Traceability Initiative Action Plan Released

September 2008
How Will Greater Transparency Enhance Your Business?

Español - 01 2012
Elaborando el Caso para Trazabilidad

Español - 03 2012
La Más Reciente Norma de la FDA es Efectiva Inmediatamente. ¿Debería Usted Estar Preocupado?

August 2013
How Walmart Could Implement PTI, Crowdsourced Shopper Insights

June 2010
How to Interpret the PTI announcement of "Goal Unchanged, Milestones Adjusted"

December 2010
An Update on the PTI

July 2010
Produce Traceability in Foodservice

February 2010
What's Going on with the PTI

March 2010
Consumer Attitudes to Traceability

August 2010
HarvestMark Launches Consumer Campaign in Portland, OR

March 2011
Have you heard of the PLU DataBar Initiative?

November 2011
Traceability? There’s an App for That

December 2012
It’s all new. Introducing HarvestMark 2013.

March 2012
The FDA's Latest Ruling is Effective Immediately. Should You be Worried?

June 2012
Do QR Codes REALLY Drive Shopper Engagement?

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August 2014: How Digitization is About to Change the Rules of Your Business

How Digitization Is About to Change the Rules of Your Business

Companies that digitize processes can improve their bottom lines and delight customers. Leaders that ignore the march of digitization are heading for trouble.


According to a recent article by McKinsey & Company, the benefits of digitization are huge: by digitizing information-intensive processes, costs can be cut by up to 90% and turnaround times improved by several orders of magnitude. Examples span multiple industries: one bank digitized its mortgage-application and decision process, cutting the cost per new mortgage by 70 percent and slashing time to preliminary approval from several days to just one minute. A shoe retailer built a system to manage its in-store inventory that enabled it to know immediately whether a shoe and size was in stock—saving time for customers and sales staff.

In addition, replacing paper and manual processes with software allows businesses to automatically collect data that can be mined to better understand process performance, cost drivers, and causes of risk. Real-time reports and dashboards on digital-process performance permit managers to address problems before they become critical. For example, supply-chain-quality issues can be identified and dealt with more rapidly by monitoring customer buying behavior and feedback in digital channels.

The results of digitization are profound:

  • Much greater pressure on pricing and margins from transparency and ease of comparison, making differentiation or low costs critical.
  • New types of competitor emerge without the legacy baggage, and start quickly by disaggregating the value chain.
  • Talent-mismatches become competitive threats.

It's easy to assume that these forces mostly apply to industries like financial services, media, or manufacturing – but that would be a wrong. Consider what's already happening in produce:

  • AmazonFresh, FreshDirect, and Instacart (among many others) have much better data on what shoppers want and what is available, and what the quality is like – in real time.
  • Companies like Yummly, AllRecipes are mining billions of in app and online shopper interactions to gain new insights into what flavors, ingredients or products are trending, and who is leading the shift.
  • The long tail of consumer demand is much better satisfied by digital shopping tools. 61% of shoppers who said they purchased groceries online did so because they wanted something they couldn't find in their store.
  • Precision agriculture combines data from sensors, weather, soil, etc. to inform planting and additions to improve yield and reduce waste. Combined with predictive techniques, a grower can enhance their expertise with algorithmic-based recommendations. In a price-sensitive business, a small edge like this can make the difference between profit and loss.
  • Dramatically increased transparency – for example from traceability – is giving brands, retailers, and consumers a new way to relate to products they buy. Whole Foods is already giving preferential marketing treatment to some growers based on their sustainability, which is enabled by a new digital platform for vendor recordkeeping and traceability.
  • Information-intensive activities, such as produce inspections on farms, in coolers, at DCs and in stores, are being digitized thanks to the low cost of powerful mobile devices and the ease of web-connected apps. Rather than keying results into an Excel spreadsheet that isn't used, retailers and shippers now have near real time supplier scorecards, predictive quality trends, and quality improvement tools.

If you're interested in finding out how we can help you win in this transformation to digitization, please contact us.

Retail's Goliath Meets its Next David

How Personalization Changes the Rules in the Battle for the Health-Seeking Shoppers

It's an elegant strategy: Carry a comprehensive selection of low-priced products in a convenient location and let shoppers choose what they want to buy. Companies such as Walmart grew into giants by perfecting this formula. Retailers like Kroger and Safeway built brilliant loyalty programs to glean insights into what shoppers were buying, in order to better target promotions and merchandizing.

Then Amazon perfected a brick-and-mortar killer strategy: mass personalization. A Web site that knows a user's location and buying history will be able to present offers on a breathtaking range of products and suggestions tailored to the shopper.

We are now entering a new era of technology in retailing. The Goliath strategy of scale creates a space for more nimble players to leverage technology and change the rules of engagement: competing using personalization and mobile to attract and engage the health-and-wellness focused shopper.

David knew he couldn't slay Goliath with brute force or wielding a sword more skillfully... he had to change the rules of the game. Mass personalization creates the opportunity for retailers to compete on different terms: focus more accurately on what small groups of their customers are looking for, merchandize what they want, and enabling them to buy a 'long tail' product online if it isn't in store. The first step is identifying what groups of your shoppers are looking for – whether its middle-aged moms looking for low gluten food and easy choices for weight management, or seniors who are worried about osteoporosis, or men keen on a heart-healthy, paleo diet.

New business models will emerge that integrate shopping, exercise, pharmacy, health insurance and lifestyle – with technology and data analysis as the 'glue' between on-line and off-line engagement. Healthy food suppliers and retailers have a unique opportunity to be in the center of this shift.

Read the full version of this article in the August edition of Grocery Headquarters.