Grocers should operate their supply chains based on what is in their customer’s pantry in the future, says Coles general manager, merchandise and logistics, Dimitrios Bairaktaris.

Speaking at the Oracle Retail Exchange at NRF 2013 in New York, Bairaktaris explained the Australian supermarket has spent seven years implementing new supply chain systems based on customer demand but that “we can always go further and always need to innovate”.

He said forecast planning would be enhanced by “pantry demand”, whereby grocers could see into a customer’s pantry to see what they need. “If we knew what the pantry looked like, we could do a much better job,” he said.

He added: “If someone said to me in the early 1990s that people would share their every move on Facebook, then I would have said you’re mad, but they did. And yesterday I posted pictures of New York on Facebook myself. So why wouldn’t customers share what’s in their pantry with us?

“It may be a tall order for customers to provide that information but given all the other things they share, when why not?”

Bairaktaris said its supply chain transformation programme was driven by Coles falling behind its Australian competitors and by empty shelves. He said switching its supply chain to being “demand forecast” meant products were in stores when customers wanted to buy them, not when a DC wanted to deliver them.