Lessons to be learnt from the pandemic: How data is going to run the logistics of groceries

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What is the long-term impact of the pandemic on the German food retailing industry? What have retailers learnt from the pandemic and what are the conclusions they have drawn concerning their logistics? Prof. Dr. Heinrich Kuhn from the Chair of Supply Chain Management and Operations at the KU has taken a closer look with colleagues from Geisenheim University. For their research, they interviewed countless managers, from drugstores to wholesalers. One thing is certain: Not only will online retail itself increase, but there will also be an increased need for retailers to design their entire logistics even more flexibly based on a broad database. Starting in the coming winter semester, students at the KU can attain the knowledge for such forward-looking professional fields with the new "Digital and Data-Driven Business (D3B)" degree program at its Ingolstadt Faculty of Business and Economics (WFI).

"Our survey shows that, on the one hand, food retailers have had little experience with online retailing to date. On the other hand, the supply of goods such as pasta or flour is coming to a standstill not so much due to bottlenecks in production, but due to the design of supply chains," explains Prof. Dr. Heinrich Kuhn. In addition to a lack of buffer storage space in stores, he says, what played a major part was the information that was available on inventory and demand. "In some cases, the data was not available in sufficient detail to make precise statements. In addition, the systems used are so complex that only a few experienced employees were able to act accordingly in this exceptional situation." To date, business has hardly used machine learning approaches to automatically process large and unstructured data volumes to make better predictions for the flow of goods.

Here, the pandemic has served as a catalyst for developments in the industry, which needs to make its supply chains more agile. This opens up prospects for graduates of the new "Digital and Data-Driven Business (D3B)" degree program at WFI. However, the degree program does not only focus on logistical issues, but also offers the opportunity to really dive into areas such as auditing, financial analysis and digital marketing. In digital, team-oriented projects, students learn to apply their subject-specific knowledge to real-world situations. This is an advantage when starting in the first job, as companies increasingly take this hands-on know-how for granted.

The "Digital and Data-driven Business (D3B)" program will start in the coming winter semester. Applications can be submitted until July 31. For more information, please visit https://www.ku.de/en/study-offer/digital-and-data-driven-business-bsc.

Further information on the study can be found on www.lebensmittellogistik.org.