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Five Food Retail Trends Shaping the Store of the Future

Katrina Krites | Director of Strategic Marketing, Cold Chain

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solutions Business

From convenience stores (C-stores) to small-format grocers to large supermarkets, the food retail landscape has shifted significantly in recent years. To survive, store owners and their service technicians have been forced to quickly adapt and implement new operational strategies. In a recent article that appeared in Chain Store Age, I explored five of the leading trends that food retailers will need to be aware of when navigating the road ahead and planning the store of the future. You can also view our formatted article here.

The pandemic created a seismic shift in consumer buying habits, driving many customers toward online, click-and-collect and home delivery for the first time. Although this shift was born out of caution, many consumers have grown to appreciate the lasting convenience of these digital business models. To meet the continuous demand, retailers have had to shore up their e-fulfillment capabilities — without compromising food quality and safety.

Implementing more sustainable operations has also become a higher priority, as environmental regulations call for the phasedown of high-global warming potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants and improved energy efficiencies. As a result, retailers are closely weighing the impacts of their refrigerant choices, energy consumption and leak detection capabilities.

To adapt to these new market requirements and prepare for a future that will present unexpected challenges, retailers are seeking tools that help them to monitor and manage their operations — in individual stores and across their fleet networks. Modern building management systems (BMS) and supervisory control software are providing the technological foundation on which retailers can meet their myriad operational objectives and scale with future business changes.

With these key factors in mind, let’s look at the five trends shaping the food retail store of the future.

1. Focus on in-store customer experiences.
Creating comfortable, inviting and safe shopping experiences for customers will continue to be a differentiator for food retailers. A BMS is ideal for its ability to continually optimize in-store shopping environments for maximum consumer engagement and occupant well-being, such as preventing excessively cold temperatures in frozen food aisles or poor ventilation in food preparation areas.

A BMS can help store owners/operators to control store ambiance and energy consumption by automatically brightening or dimming shopping aisles, workspaces, shopping zones or curbside pickup stations. Make sure your BMS has advanced and easy-to-use scheduling features to help you optimize lighting.

2. Meet sustainability initiatives.
Meeting a wide range of rigorous sustainability targets requires an understanding of the total equivalent warming impact (TEWI) of HVACR and lighting systems. In refrigeration systems, TEWI accounts for the direct impacts of refrigerant leaks as well as the indirect impacts of a system’s energy consumption. Look for a BMS that will help you to achieve those goals by supporting advanced energy optimization and sustainability best practices, including variable frequency drive (VFD) management, suction group algorithms and effective leak detection programs.

3. Connect to data-driven insights.
Modern food retailers have an opportunity to leverage operational data gathered from connected devices, systems and technologies — also known as the internet of things (IoT) — for an abundance of real-time and historic insights into optimal store performance. A BMS can consolidate all systems, equipment and connected devices while enabling remote, web-based access to allow off-site technicians and staff to remotely monitor systems, troubleshoot and resolve issues. Look for a BMS that supports seamless connectivity with enterprise management software to extend your visibility and insights across a network of stores.

4. Preserve food safety and reduce waste.
The ability to maintain precise temperatures in refrigerated or frozen cases is imperative for maximizing freshness while minimizing food waste (shrink). A BMS controller should allow store operators to view their refrigeration assets from one place and continually monitor performance, temperatures and defrost schedules. By triggering alarms at the first detection of “out-of-tolerance” conditions, a BMS can enable operators and technicians to take the necessary actions to preserve food quality and prevent waste. Combined with enterprise management software, case-level data can be leveraged to generate a variety of food-related reports to validate temperature precision and support hazard and critical control points (HACCP) compliance standards.

5. Streamline energy management and optimization.
To meet sustainability objectives and address rising electricity costs, retailers will need new energy management and optimization tools. Traditional grocery store building envelopes will continue to evolve toward smaller store formats, and the introduction of e-fulfillment business models will also impact store energy profiles. For many operators, lowering energy consumption and/or qualifying for rebates and incentives will require energy retrofits, demand management and load-shedding arrangements with participating utilities. Because participation in these programs requires coordination and clear communications between facilities and utilities, operators will need connected infrastructures and BMS controllers to take advantage of these opportunities and fine-tune energy consumption within their building envelopes.

At Emerson, we are designing powerful BMS solutions that are built to scale with the lifecycles of modern food retail operations. The Lumity™ E3 supervisory control and its robust software provide the tools retailers need to optimize their critical systems today and adapt to meet their changing business models in the future.


Evaluating Supermarket Energy Management Strategies

JamesJackson_Blog_Image James Jackson | Business Development Manager
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I recently authored an article for Facility Executive that discussed how energy management systems (EMS) are helping to reshape how the food retail industry approaches energy efficiency and demand planning. Read the full article here.

Evaluating Supermarket Energy Management Strategies

Corporations and consumers alike are always looking for ways to reduce energy costs. Nowhere is this more applicable than in supermarkets, where chains have many energy optimization opportunities among refrigeration, HVAC and lighting systems. The average 50,000 square foot store incurs $200,000 in annual energy costs, resulting in 1,900 tons of CO2 emissions (the equivalent of 360 vehicles) in one year. Of these costs, refrigeration and lighting account for more than 50 percent of total energy usage.

As the energy and utilities sectors continue to evolve, traditional approaches to energy management and demand response must also adapt to the changing landscape. Fortunately, with advances in EMS and controls technologies, food retailers can apply automation to achieve energy best practices. These tools not only provide full building ecosystem optimization but also help operators capitalize on the potential for energy savings via utility energy incentives and available demand management opportunities.

Consumption and Demand — The Difference

Understanding the difference between consumption and demand is essential for energy management planning. Consumption is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) and refers to the amount of energy used during a billing period. Demand represents the instantaneous energy load that a commercial customer (or building) places on the grid. Utility providers use this for base infrastructure planning and to determine total load requirements of the electrical system. When demand increases, providers must draw from additional — and often more expensive — resources like coal and other fossil fuels.

Utilities measure demand in kilowatts (kW) based upon the actual power a consumer draws. Because demand costs can be potentially higher than consumption — with charges ranging from a few to several dollars per kW — demand can account for a significant portion of a monthly bill.

Evolving Demand Response

Due to the rise of renewable generation, utility providers across the country are rethinking how to develop and deploy demand response programs. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in California conducted a study that evaluated the state’s energy dynamics. The study showed that California is benefiting from an increase in solar power and the continued shift of demand from midday to evening hours. The addition of smart thermostats and controls in commercial and residential sectors is also helping the state optimize energy consumption.

The LBNL study findings are helping researchers understand the amount of flexible customer load available and evaluate different methods for getting customers to change energy consumption habits, such as time of use, peak pricing programs, and day- and hour-ahead energy market plans.

The opportunity to shift demand is seen as the greatest contributor to future grid flexibility — and potentially one of the biggest opportunities for energy savings.

Energy Management Solutions

Today, advances in EMS software and controls platforms are helping operators connect with utilities and automate their energy management programs. Among other emerging strategies used by supermarket operators are self-generation via thermal and battery storage and grid-interactive buildings.

Self-generation via Thermal and Battery Storage

Most utility providers encourage consumers to implement proven thermal and battery storage options to help shift demand from peak to off-peak hours. The concept of self-generation is simple: thermal (ice) creation and battery charging take place during off-peak hours to store energy that can be used during peak hours to help utilities offset demand.

Grid-interactive Buildings

As IoT-enabled EMS and smart devices provide unprecedented connectivity between consumers and utility companies, opportunities for greater cooperation and energy optimization are also on the rise. At the Department of Energy (DOE), the Building Technology Office (BTO) is conducting research through its Grid-interactive Efficient Building (GEB) initiative. One of their primary goals is to enable buildings to become more responsive to the electric grid conditions.

These and other tools can help facilities improve energy efficiency and achieve operational success in a quickly evolving energy market. At Emerson, we’re helping to simplify energy management challenges with smart EMS software and proven controls platforms designed to help supermarket and restaurant operators connect with utilities and automate energy-saving best practices.

Technology in Action: Better Enterprise Management

This is the fourth in a series of posts on key presentations from Emerson’s 2013 Technology in Action Conference. 

In a 2013 Technology in Action Conference (TAC) session, Retail Solutions product managers Sam Smith and Randy Stocker shared their knowledge on setting up store controllers for better enterprise management with attendees.

Sam discussed best practices for improving energy and store management. He shared insight into effectively managing logs and filtering alarms based on priority in order to get usable data to your enterprise for troubleshooting and better enterprise management.

In addition, Randy talked about how using a standard nomenclature for equipment can make a significant difference in efficiently and effectively managing alarms. Because of Emerson’s experience with alarm monitoring and management through its ProAct Service Center, we provide naming recommendations to our customers for consistency.

Watch this video to see Sam and Randy talk about the key takeaways from their session and learn more about TAC here.

Reggie O’Donoghue
Director of Marketing, Retail Solutions
Emerson Climate Technologies

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