Grocery Store Automation

Australia Needs Grocery Store Automation to Help Stop the Spread of Coronavirus

When major grocery store chains Coles and Woolworths announced a temporary suspension of online delivery orders on March 16th, it gave us a clear perspective. Australia’s grocery logistics systems were not prepared for the unprecedented demand generated by the current global crisis. Not only did we realise just how fragile they are, but we also saw the dangerous aftermath: customers crowded into stores, bought out staple goods, and this created an environment that ultimately furthered the spread of this deadly disease.

Unfortunately, the legacy systems for grocery delivery were no longer able to meet the unexpected surge in demand. And though both major supermarkets chains have resumed deliveries to high-risk groups, the majority of Australians don’t have access to online grocery delivery during the current crisis unlike many European and North American countries. Although these companies are doing everything that they can at the moment to meet the needs of all Australians, we see a brighter future for widespread grocery delivery.

We need an option that empowers families to stay within the safety of their own homes. This crisis has shown us that the only way we can truly reap the benefits of social distancing measures is when individuals no longer need to expose themselves to potentially contaminated public spaces because they require essential supplies.

Grocery Distribution Automation
Despite the need for social isolation during the COVID-19 outbreak, supermarkets and grocery stores are currently the only places for most Australians to get food and essential household supplies

Every day, hundreds of thousands of Australians put themselves into an unnecessarily dangerous situation simply because they need to feed their families. That’s why grocery fulfilment automation is now more essential than ever before.

Simply put, grocery deliveries reduce the need for people to go to shops so that we can flatten the curve of this infection. In this article, we’re going to show how grocery automation provides a solution for some of the challenges that we now collectively face, as well as how increased automation brings benefits to consumers and businesses alike.

How supermarket automation can help “flatten the curve”

When industries consider implementing disruptive technology, it’s usually because we want to streamline processes, cut costs, improve productivity, or some other motive centred within the company itself. While grocery fulfilment automation fulfils this promise, what’s even more crucial at this moment is the public good.

We can break this down into two major categories. First, home deliveries cut down on infection vectors, slow the spread of the disease, and give public health officials and first responders more time to act. By slowing the virus’s rate at which it spreads, we’re essentially buying more time for scientists to find a cure or a vaccine and preventing our healthcare systems from collapsing under the pressure of a surge in new cases. Australian doctors are already reporting ‘unacceptable shortage of protective equipment, it this problem will only increase in severity if we fail to mitigate the spread of the disease.

Grocery Delivery
Home deliveries of food and other household essentials can significantly reduce the spread of infection

At this point, we all understand that the best thing we can do for each other is to give each other our distance. In fact, the data shows that coronavirus can only be controlled if 8 out of 10 Australians stay home. So, that’s what we need to do.

However, when we need to buy necessities like groceries, we have to leave home and enter into public spaces. This can result in negative outcomes. If we can eliminate even half of this need through grocery delivery services, it will go a long way towards fighting COVID-19. 

Second, grocery deliveries also make sure that everybody gets what they need by preventing hoarding and excessive panic buying. Toilet paper is in short supply, and many household items like bread, milk, and meat are often sold out. When we implement online grocery ordering for home delivery, however, we can make sure that people only order what they need, and we can more effectively enforce supply restrictions.

Supermarket automation australia
Panic buying and hoarding of food and other essentials can be alleviated through home delivery, which allows suppliers to restrict quantities of critical items more effectively so that everyone can get what they need

Our goal is to help companies to grow their capacity and do everything they can to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Distrobycs is an Australian Warehouse Automation Company that is ideally positioned to help supermarkets and main grocery chains transition to automated grocery delivery and distribution centres

Benefits of Grocery Delivery for Consumers

Besides protecting their health and making sure they have access to key products, grocery delivery services offer clear benefits to consumers. This is equally true in normal times as well.

We can simply look at the success of meal delivery platforms like DoorDash and Uber Eats to see that the market has an appetite for food brought straight to their door. Grocery deliver services save people time in their busy lives without compromising healthy options. It’s easy, it’s convenient, and this business model is already seeing great success with services like Instacart.

According to Roy Morgan research, “Over 5 million Australian grocery buyers (31% of grocery buyers) would consider buying groceries online in the next year, up over 800,000 from a year ago.”

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January – December 2017, n=12,657 and January – December 2018, n=12,629. Base: Australian grocery buyers 14+. 

If grocery stores and supermarkets can demonstrate a reliable ability to deliver fresh, quality products, then customers will buy in for the convenience and value they provide.

When we add these benefits to the ability to stay home while social distancing alongside making sure that everyone has access to necessary items, it’s clear just how much consumers can gain by embracing grocery home delivery services.

Grocery Fulfilment Automation Benefits for Businesses

Robotics and other automation solutions are also the best way for grocery stores to gain a competitive advantage in today’s business landscape. These powerful technologies enable retailers to transform their fulfilment pipelines by employing an electronic workforce. This, in turn, increases efficiency, boosts productivity, reduces errors, and cuts costs.

That why Brittain Ladd writes for Forbes, “Consumers can expect to see a massive increase in the use of robotics and to fulfil grocery orders in distribution centres…Robotics and automation will become a major part of the transformation of the grocery industry.”

Grocery Automation

While there’s room for improvement in a variety of areas, warehousing is primed and ready for this transformation. In fact, Coles and Woolworths are already investing in new facilities, each with approximately 1000 robots that can handle products worth between $500M and $750M annually.

By integrating systems like Palletizing Robots and Box Sealing Machines, businesses can speed up the fulfilment process, reduce costs, and improve safety outcomes. These automatic warehousing solutions are ideal for grocery stores because they help to simplify complex logistics and ensure that food stays fresh by speeding up product throughput.

Australia needs to invest in automation now

If there’s one thing that we’ve learned from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that we cannot afford to wait. We must do everything we can to secure the public health and welfare of all Australians.

Right now, Distrobycs is the only warehouse and distribution centre automation robotics producer in Australia. We need to invest in the future of retail and manufacturing in Australia, and we believe that by partnering together, we can create a better future.

“Our mission is to empower industries with warehousing automation technologies so that they can do what they do best,” explained Raymond Sanchez, Distrobycs CEO. “We must unite in the battle against coronavirus. We want to work with grocery stores and other mass retailers to make a safer and more beneficial environment for all Australians.”

supermarket automation

Though we may feel isolated from each other during these difficult times, we cannot forget that we are all in this together.. We are ready to lend our expertise towards tackling this pandemic in the way that we know best: warehousing and logistics automation.

We’re ready to apply ourselves to rapidly transforming the grocery deliver services available in Australia because that’s what we need to do to stop the spread of coronavirus.

If you’d like to find out how your business can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and also gain the technical edge over your competitors, contact us today to find out more about our distribution center automation solutions.