Tech innovation

Shelf Engine named “most innovative” among demand forecasting and inventory optimization providers

Against a backdrop of platforms meeting the needs of today’s grocers, Shelf Engine stands out as the sole provider poised to adapt to a dynamic market, according to CB Insights.
by Betsy Goldberg
CB Insights' demand planning and Inventory optimization strength matrix, showing Shelf Engine as most innovative

One of the greatest obstacles grocery retailers face is forecasting demand for and ordering the ideal amount of inventory for tens of thousands of SKUs. While several technology vendors are trying to tackle this challenge, market intelligence provider CB Insights suggests that retailers have one clear choice if they want a solution that’s both innovative and adaptive: Shelf Engine.

According to CB Insights, demand forecasting and inventory optimization platforms “utilize sales data and other relevant metrics to drive improvements in the inventory planning process.” While all seven providers in the CB Insights analysis succeed under this definition, only Shelf Engine leverages automated ordering to streamline demand forecasting and inventory management and grow profits.

What is demand forecasting and why is it needed?

As food waste concerns mount and online grocery endures, demand forecasting has become more of a necessity than a nice-to-have. The standard processes for inventory management, often manual and based on intuition, result in an unpredictable supply and excessive shrink.

Demand forecasting, on the other hand, relies on artificial intelligence to provide retailers with informed ordering predictions, with the goal of boosting profits.

Shelf Engine’s solution pairs external data, like supply chain bottlenecks and local preferences, with a store’s historical and daily sales to forecast future demand with a high degree of accuracy. Even more, our predictions factor for all of the inventory a store already has on hand, resulting in fewer instances of overstock and less shrink.

How CB Insights assesses demand forecasting and inventory optimization strength

The CB Insights analysis, known as the ESP Vendor Assessment Matrix, relies on data and analyst insight to score the Execution and Market Strength of technology vendors to determine their relative position in a given category.

In this matrix, CB Insights considered leading companies that provide grocery brands and food retailers with demand planning and replenishment tools, and after reviewing hundreds of private technology vendors, selected seven for inclusion. The goal is to paint a picture of which technology vendors are best suited to meet a retailer’s objective.

Market strength, shown on the X axis, considers a technology vendor’s total addressable market, value proposition, packaging and pricing, brand and marketing, and commercial outcomes. Execution strength, on the Y axis, assesses products and services offered, financial status and health, sales model and go-to-market strategy, management team and leadership, as well as other company details.

CB Insights' demand planning and Inventory optimization strength matrix, showing Shelf Engine as most innovativeThe matrix is made up of four quadrants: The Leaders, the most established service providers; the Outperformers, the most specialized providers; and the Challengers, promising providers that may surprise on the upside. Finally there are the Highfliers, the most innovative service providers in the market that are rich in opportunity and possess robust resources to meet evolving customer needs.

Against a backdrop of platforms meeting the needs of today’s grocers, Shelf Engine stands out as the only Highflier on the matrix.

What sets Shelf Engine apart as a Highflier

  • Forecasting that offsets future demand with on-hand inventory
  • Demand planning configurable to retailer objectives
  • Human-in-the-loop technology that feeds AI in real time, leading to more accurate predictions
  • Automated ordering, with retailers conserving scarce labor resources as a result

We forecast future demand—and determine inventory on hand

Shelf Engine technology doesn’t just provide data for the inventory planning process. It also calculates inventory on hand and factors for thousands of variables that influence consumer demand to enable grocery retailers to capture all possible sales, while minimizing costly waste.

We configure demand planning to meet retailer objectives

Shelf Engine’s demand planning is customizable and can be adjusted to meet a retailer’s strategic objectives. You may need to grow sales in one division, reduce waste in another, and maximize profits in a third. Our system adapts to meet your challenges—both as they vary across your business and change over time.

We keep humans in the loop to enhance the accuracy of our predictions

What makes Shelf Engine so confident that its predictions are accurate? A nationally distributed field team visits each store to ensure inventory integrity and SKU optimization, collecting data and feeding it into the AI to enhance accuracy. This human-in-the-loop technology also guarantees that Shelf Engine’s models can rapidly respond to market disruptions—at scale.

We automate ordering and free up labor resources

Unlike the other solutions included in the matrix, Shelf Engine uses these highly accurate demand predictions to actually take on the ordering for retailers. With Shelf Engine automating orders on behalf of the retailer, store-level staff are freed to work on tasks such as customer service.

It’s these market strengths, according to CB Insights, that propel Shelf Engine into the Highflier category. On the execution strength side, the CB Insights analysis notes Shelf Engine’s healthy funding and robust portfolio of investors. Discover more about how Shelf Engine can simplify your demand forecasting and ordering in our Annual Impact Report.

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