The Value of Demand Information in Omni-Channel Grocery Retailing

AbstractAs e-commerce reaches one of the last strongholds of traditional fulfillment, how can grocers leverage the omni-channel trend and stay competitive in today’s changing market landscape? To improve operating outcomes and address food waste concerns, this study investigates various scenarios in which the grocery retailer accepts online orders in advance. We examine the value of advance demand information through a Markov Decision Process-based model, in terms of changes to expected profits, outdating, freshness, and several inventory and service performance metrics. Our results indicate that when the demand lead time is longer than the replenishment lead time, close to 20% safety stock reduction on average can be achieved, leading to a 15% decrease in product deterioration and 26% less outdating. In some cases, we also find that it is possible to profitably offer discounted prices in exchange for the customer’s future demand information.

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