Surplus food marketplace app Too Good To Go has launched an artificial intelligence-powered platform aimed at grocery retailers seeking to draw more margin from near-expired food and reduce food waste.
The “modular end-to-end surplus food management solution” features several AI-based tools, from which grocers can pick and choose to better “unlock value from excess inventory”.
The Too Good To Go platform is being rolled out this month by Spar International across its 14 markets.
The platform’s algorithms can generate and display on store staff handheld devices a near-expiry product shortlist, clearly organised by shelf location, daily or weekly, depending on the products’ shelf life and recommend “exactly what to do with each near-expired product”, based on pre-set, customisable rules and preferences set by the retailer. For example, it could suggest a discount sticker at an optimised rate be printed to sell the product in-store, or it be added to a Surprise Bag to sell on the Too Good To Go marketplace, or donated to the app.
Rules and recommendations could easily be set at headquarter or store level, either by category or SKU, the company explained.
“The platform’s AI processes large sets of data to optimise discount levels and apply granular discount rates, at a SKU level, systematically improving revenue driven by close-to-expiry discounted products,” said Sophie Trueman, Too Good To Go managing director UK & Ireland.
“Directly from their PDA, store employees can easily allocate surplus food items to Too Good To Go Surprise Bags and upload them on to the marketplace, where local users are ready to buy and collect.”
Handily, store managers can download ready-to-analyse CSV files with the list of products donated or connect via API to their third-party donation application or ERP.
Another feature of the platform is ‘Intelligent Discounting’, which uses AI to process large sets of historical data, such as sales, sales with discount rates, inventory of the short-dated product, price, days to expiration, time of the week, seasonality, and other data such as weather and other outside events to determine an optimum per product discount.
Trueman pointed to the example of French retail partner Monoprix to explain the potential.
“Previously, Monoprix instructed their employees that cheese should be discounted two days before expiry, at a 50% discount – a simple rule to be applied country-wide. But those who know the cheese market in France know that cheeses are not consumed the same way across the country, nor the same way all year long,” she said.
“For example, raclette is eaten mostly in winter, and mostly in the Alps. The Intelligent Discounting module AI factors these elements and many more. If during a cold winter day, the store in the Alps ends up having X units of raclette expiring in two days, the AI won’t advise the retailer to discount it. Under a fixed rule, the cheese would be already discounted at 50%, reducing margin,” Trueman said.
The same situation during summer, or in Normandy where Camambert is more popular, would see the AI factor the diminished demand “and anticipate the discount, at an even higher discount tag, to improve the chances of selling the product, improving, therefore, margins and reducing the chances of the food being wasted”.
The platform’s launch comes after several years of growth for Too Good To Go, which partners with major grocers including Carrefour, Auchan, Spar, Aldi and Co-op. In the UK it works with Morrisons, Aldi, Spar, and regional Co-ops. It also partners with roadside retail brands including EG Group, Welcome Break, Applegreen, BP M&S and Moto and convenience retailers such as One Stop.
According to latest Similarweb data, the Too Good To Go app had approximately 623,000 monthly active users in the UK. By comparison, the Starbucks UK app has around 255,000 monthly active users. It is one of the fastest-growing food and drink apps in the US, and is increasing in usage across all markets. The app has 85 million registered users globally.
“The food waste challenge is massive, and we are setting up to deal with it at scale,” said Trueman.