Customer satisfaction: The last link in the perishable supply chain

When operational leaders at supermarkets begin thinking about making changes to their refrigeration service, they’re often thinking internally. They’re looking within at the way they run their businesses, searching for ways to make in-house operations more efficient and, in the process, save precious dollars and cents in the budget.

This is all well and good, but there’s also another way at looking at the long-term effects of the refrigeration process – it’s about the customer, too. After all, the consumers who patronize the store are the last step in the supply chain of all perishable food products. Whether you’re refrigerating fruits and vegetables, or freezing cartons of ice cream, your ultimate goal is to make sure the customer gets the best product possible. That’s the key to securing profits over the long haul.

So what role does refrigeration play in that process? That’s the crucial question.

Product quality matters

Securing profits requires understanding what customers want, and there’s no doubt that quality products are high on that list. Numerous studies have shown that when shoppers head to the supermarket, they’re looking to find foods that are well refrigerated, fresh and healthy.

A study from Swinburne University of Technology led by Binta Abubakar, titled “Customer Satisfaction With Supermarket Retail Shopping,” highlighted this principle. Abubakar set out to rank all the factors that influence people’s happiness with their stores, and indeed he found that “quality of fruits and vegetables” and “quality of meat products” both ranked quite high. He also noted that these quality factors both feed into the No. 1 criterion of all – reputation.

“Reputation is important whether it is for quality, for cleanliness or for freshness of produce,” Abubakar wrote. “People care about reputation as a differentiator since most retailing is otherwise very similar.”

One way to develop a strong reputation is by refrigerating products effectively, thus making it easier to offer the best possible foods.

Refrigeration plays a key role

Having a solid refrigeration infrastructure is a critical step for keeping food fresh and safe, according to FMI.org. The site also pointed out that using the right refrigerants can also play into environmental concerns, which the EPA and other similar groups keep a close watchful eye on.

Good refrigeration not only guarantees fresh products, but also helps supermarkets steer clear of issues with compliance and the bad publicity that follows. This, in turn, can also improve a seller’s reputation – which will put the supermarket in a positive light with customers. Of course, that’s the end goal.

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