Ida is a relatively new French startup that wants to work with supermarkets and grocery stores to optimize new orders of fresh products, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish. The startup recently raised a $2.9 million (€2.7 million) seed round from Frst, Daphni, Motier Ventures and Kima Ventures.
Currently, grocery stores often rely on order sheets with multiple columns representing the ordering schedule. These errant tables lead to waste and food shortages. Supermarkets are either losing money or leaving potential profits on the table.
“The supervisor or vegetables take these sheets of paper and pen. Then they go through the stock line by line, reference by reference. Then they do some guessing work and say: ‘Ok, now, I have a good feeling about eggplants. The weather is nice today, so let’s get four boxes with two kilos of eggplant,’” co-founder and CEO Mateo Beacco told me.
Of course, this is not a 100% guess because experienced people will look at previous years to find some trends to predict when it is time to order more strawberries. But there has been a lot of turnover in these jobs in recent years. Even for people who work at the same grocery store for a year, it’s hard to be accurate every day.
That’s why Ida wants to change this process by giving the right tools to grocers. Ida is a tablet app connected to a sales forecasting algorithm that guides people when it’s time to reorder some new products.
Ida started with vegetables and fruits, but it will soon expand to other shelves, such as meat and fish. By focusing on perishable goods, Ida tackles a shortage of supermarket inventory because it is easy to predict how many cereal boxes are in your store thanks to the bars code and connected points of sale. Or, as Beacco puts it, “SAP gives you a rolling average.”
Behind the scenes, Ida doesn’t just watch what happens at the sales points because it’s not good for vegetables and fruits. Instead, the company creates a probabilistic inventory that takes into account real-life scenarios.
“With a probabilistic inventory, my cucumber sales are mixed with my organic cucumber sales because if you buy organic cucumbers, the cashier will count them as non-organic cucumbers,” Beacco said. Another example, you can store potatoes for a while, but cherries go bad quickly.
This way, instead of counting how many cucumbers you currently have, Ida will give you a ballpark number of your cucumbers in your store. Of course, if there is something that is felt by many, the staff can correct the inventory numbers.
Second, Ida considers more than a hundred different parameters combined with at least three years of sales data to predict demand. Ida looks at weather conditions, seasonality, prices, other grocery stores in the area, special offers and more.
Third, Ida uses this predictive data to generate your next orders. And stores can configure a safety stock so they know for sure they won’t run out of a certain item (without over-ordering).
“As I mentioned earlier, you ordered eggplants in 2 kilo boxes. So we are faced with a mathematical problem whose optimization is under constraint. I order by 2kg increments, my shelf has 5kg, and we will try to take into account all the data to say that we need 4 crates, and not 3 or 5,” said Beacco.
Ida does not process orders herself. However, staff can review everything and change some things manually. Currently, the startup estimates that 70 to 75% of Ida’s suggestions are accurate and not manually modified by grocers. Once this task is completed, Ida can create order forms for the central purchasing office, but also for local producers because Ida can mix and match suppliers on her tablet. app.
In many ways, Ida is just getting started. Some young startups are tackling this vertical, such as Guac in the US It will be interesting to see if grocery stores will switch to these software solutions to manage new products at scale. But it seems like a no-brainer for supermarkets to improve the bottom line and reduce their overall environmental impact.