Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Food and Enterprise Mobility

I have been learning a lot lately while running.  OK, mostly walking, but briskly.  I listen to the ScienceNow podcast on my iPhone.  The average U.S. grocery store throws out 2,000 lbs of produce per week(the total for all grocery stores is estimated at 30 million pounds of food each day), and 50 percent of all produce grown in the US is not consumed before it becomes waste.

Those numbers seem like problems that mobile solutions can help alleviate. In Jonathan Bloom's new book American Wasteland he reports that the US produces about 591 billion pounds of food each year of which about 50 percent goes to waste somewhere along the food supply chain. This includes unused restaurant food, food in the field and vegetables and fruits in the grocery store as examples.  Bloom identifies the following areas where much of the waste occurs:
  • The field
  • Lost in transit
  • Supermarket throw away
  • Commerical kitchens such as hospitals, schools and restaurants
  • Households
When I read this information, I thought back to an article I wrote last year called Time Sensitive LBS (location based services) Use Cases.  I believe there are business models where mobile alerts, time "aware" retail applications, LBS solutions and CRMs can be combined to target groups of consumers within a specific geographical area. This target market can be notified of discounts and special programs intended to reduce the amount of wasted food.

I think of the shelf life of bananas. After a few days on the shelf, the grocery store removes the bananas and throws them out the back door into the trash bin. What if consumers were notified that between 3:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m., the bananas would be discounted by 50 percent? Perhaps the restaurant a few blocks away would love that banana to use in fruit smoothies. Their smartphone alerts them to a 15 minute discount at the local grocery store and they race down and grab the discounted bananas. Everyone wins!  I am convinced that there are hundreds of unique applications for solutions like this in retail.

Companies like Smartsoft Mobile Solutions spend much of their time designing and developing mobile retailing applications.

Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
Phone +1 208-991-4410
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Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant, mobility analyst, writer and Web 2.0 marketing professional. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.