Transportation Optimization - a silver bullet to solve "last mile delivery?"

Ted Matwijec, Managing Director, ACT Operations Research – Raleigh, NC.

Learn how knowing your constraints and customer demands feeds sophisticated algorithms to provide optimal routing and balance delivery vs costs   Lately I have been seeing more and more of those brand-new Amazon Prime - Mercedes panel trucks making deliveries around my neighborhood.   Also, I have even seen the USPS delivering packages on Sunday (contracted by Amazon I am sure).  What’s going on Sunday deliveries? On demand delivery with time windows specified by a customer is becoming the consumer norm.  Remember the delivery or service call by your cable TV/Internet provider saying my service guy will be there between 8 am and noon then shows up at 11:50am.  Met their promise, but ruined your whole morning wasted sitting around! Let me assure you that customer service problem can be solved and you don’t need the resources of Amazon, UPS or Fed Ex. Amazon is clearly moving into the supply chain delivery markets much to the chagrin of FED EX and UPS to take back their “last mile” deliveries of their goods and solve this problem for the customer.    The question is how can they make the most expensive part of delivery – the “last or golden mile” to a customer profitable? From our experience in these markets, simply put, Amazon, Fed Ex, UPS and other large transportation companies have the best and brightest staff of Math, Statistical Phds that constantly hone their algorithms to minimize costs and maximize the service requirements.   When profit is measured in pennies in a transportation system – (that’s why you see the UPS guys running from each delivery back to their trucks) – the solution cannot be a spreadsheet or database or even year 2000 optimization technology. It is not rocket science, well maybe sort of, but rather advanced mathematics (think Calculus) applied to route planning optimization and fleet capacity analysis.  These transportation algorithms (remember the traveling salesman problem) have generically been around for decades, however now they are totally customized, enhanced and improved enough to cover the most minutia of system requirements – by many software companies.  I read that UPS has put 10’s of millions of dollars in R&D over the years into their algorithms to update and improve optimize their KPIs – as an example! So, why now is the “last delivery mile” more complex and expensive than ever?   The short answer, the customer is demanding it and will go other places if your company cannot provide it!   We all know how poor delivery can be written up in YELP or GOOGLE about your business – a big problem in the social media world for your marketing department.   (eg. – delivered food late for a kid’s birthday party) The good news for any retail or grocery store fleet manager is that to solve the “last mile delivery” the technology today is much less expensive and available for all size of fleets and route planners The long answer is the complexity of the business rules, constraints and requirements to execute this service.   First some examples…of customer/supplier requirement I am seeing today in our markets of retail and grocery applications - Customers: Wants confirmation of a tighter availability of their grocery delivery – eg. In the next 30 minutes Desire communications via a mobile app, email or text to the customer – about the updated arrival time. Want a positive experience to tell their friends how good their deliveries are! – We all want that on demand! Grocery/Retail Stores with their own fleets, or outsourced via 3PLs - Wants a confirmation signature the groceries have been delivered and that information is sent back to the IT system in real time, with SKU information, for example – for replenishment purposes. Wants real time updates from their drivers about location, traffic and estimated delivery window to communicate back to the customer. Wants to be able to reschedule a driver in real time for a new pickup at the store/warehouse or pick-up a returned item. So, the lengthy transportation distances between warehouses to stores is a natural issue solved by logistics teams for inventory replenishment.  Now add that complex delivery network and inventory now required “on demand” from a store location or back in the warehouse for a customer that wants it delivered this afternoon – and you get to see why the “last mile” delivery starts to become complex and expensive!  From a labor, IT system connection, communication systems, loading, unloading, time window point of view, the human brain cannot possibly manage all the variables in your network – to balance cost vs services. Lot’s of moving business costs involved to serve the customer. So, from my 30  + years in the Operations Research field, I can strongly recommend an updated math model is appropriate for route planning and optimization and is the potential strategic “silver bullet” you are looking for – to support you competing in your markets!  Of-course it is not the whole answer, you have to execute a plan, change some processes and manage the fleet – the cultural processes. Question, when was the last time you asked for your route planning algorithms to be updated in your home grown business system,  TMS or ERP system, meanwhile your points of service network has changed a lot just in the last 5 years! I have seen the market share winners in the tight margin grocery or retail store business realize that the supply chain strategy to optimize delivery to their clients from source through the delivery point is accomplished by using transportation optimization.   Managing constraints like labor, fuel costs, traffic conditions, time window, texts and emails to meet that short time window and the “last mile” requires serious modeling/computational power and IT changes. The good news is that this technology is more readily available, less expensive from providers, easier to use for your staff, and has proven real cost savings – to meet or exceed your customers expectations. How much did your optimization algorithms cut your cost in your delivery system last year? Find the hidden value in your delivery system today, using math optimization, your savings should be a min. 10%+ or more in our experience to deliver on time or earlier and impress your customers! +MORE

Timing is everything and ‘your newest team member’ is right on time!

Lan Nguyen, Marketing Manager, Bossa Nova Robotics

With AI and data from your newest team member, retail work has never been easier. Bossa Nova, a leader in creating autonomous service robots for the global retail industry, tracks inventory plus store and shelf conditions in real-time. Its solution delivers data with speed and accuracy. By reducing inventory time, Bossa Nova is able to provide real-time data for stock levels with improved accuracy. So how does this translate to a financial gain for retailers? First, by automating mundane tasks, employees are happy and happy employees make a happier retail environment. You might wonder how many hours are spent on mundane tasks such as inventory audits.  There are 30,098 items in the average grocery store. A typical Target store has around 80,000 SKUs and a Walmart supercenter sells up to 120,000 items. It takes about 20 human hours to audit 10,000 products. Following this logic, an average grocery store would require over 60 hours per store,  160 hours per store for Target, and a whopping 240 hours auditing shelves at a Walmart Supercenter. It’s easy to see how grocery stores following the recommended minimum quarterly inventory schedule forfeit a high proportion of human working hours to this task. For those that audit monthly, the labor costs are even more tremendous.   Bossa Nova helps retailers automate these inventory audits and monitor shelf-conditions in parallel, scanning an 80 linear foot aisle in 90 seconds with 98% accuracy. Through automation, employee focus can be shifted to more action oriented, customer-centric tasks, while the Bossa Nova robot detects anomalies in shelf conditions, covering everything from addressing out of stock and misplaced items, to pricing, and more. This shift in employee focus to the customer directly translates to higher shopper satisfaction and increased loyalty. It is estimated that out of stocks cost retailers over $129 billion in lost sales in North America - a loss of -4% of revenue annually. (the cumulative worldwide cost of out-of-stocks for retailers has now reached over $984b) A study conducted by MIT Supply Chain Management Research determined that 78% of products that are not on the shelves (i.e out of stocks) are actually on-hand. Given this, a majority of out of stock issues can likely be resolved in-store. Inventory replenishment is critical to success, and those tasks need to occur at store level. Having the right products in the right place when consumers are looking for them (both online and in-store) allows sales to escalate and deliver a sales velocity that makes the most effective use of each square foot of space. Bossa Nova is committed to maximizing this efficiency by gathing  reliable, real-time data that delivers task oriented, actionable items. Efficient inventory control improves speed to shelf by alerting store-level associates of inventory on hand, as well as buying desks / suppliers of true OOS situations. Through computer vision implementation, retailers can accurately assess, and more importantly, address in-store conditions in real-time, across all locations. Real-time accuracy is not only important to retailers, but it is also important to your shoppers. By having accurate inventory, confidence thresholds for item availability can be increased for both in-store and online shopper inventory inquiries. In fact, 81% of shoppers do research online before visiting a physical store for what they want to buy, yet only 27% of retail sites provide store level inventory. When the robot “wheels” into your stores, you will be saving intensive labor hours and improving your store conditions with unmatched accuracy. Bossa Nova has the credibility and experience to help retail operations realize the return on investment and successfully integrate with existing platforms and systems. There are two popular sayings that really affect your bottom line: “Timing is everything”, and “Time is money”, and in business, money really is everything. While many technology companies are still working to surmount the bell learning curve of applied technology, Bossa Nova is equipped with extensive retail experience and has been trusted by operations and IT professions to successfully integrate and lead this huge step in retail automation. With accurate inventory management, you can increase your revenue potential and more accurately can forecast the future. +MORE

Robots for Retailers

Bossa Nova Robotics

It is estimated that out-of-stocks account for -4% loss in revenue, not to mention the possible long-term effects of losing loyal shoppers. Great shelving conditions can lead to great shopping experiences. Bossa Nova is the leading developer of robots designed to provide real-time inventory data for the global retail industry. Our retail service robot autonomously tracks inventory and the true state of in-store conditions to seamlessly deliver actionable tasks benefiting retailers through efficiencies and accuracy.   Ensure implementation and maximize operational efficiencies by relying on the retail experience and expertise of Bossa Nova. Our trusted team makes it work for all retailers - helping them turn real-time data into actionable tasks and insights.  Real-Time, Accurate Inventory Data Product Availablity with Efficient/Actionable/Timely Replenishment Real-time Corrective Actions to Remedy Merchandising, Pricing and Promotion Compliance  +MORE


BEFORE! Predictive Analytics

ACT Operations Research

1) Predict demand down to store and SKU level 2) Predict promotional campaign affect in the store, transportation and warehouse operations 3) Buy optimal quantities 4) Manage the risk associated with stock outs vs promotional campaigns and waste 5) considers assortment constraints and category efficiency 6) simulate store queuing for capacity analysis purposes and cost reduction purposes.  REVENUE, SALES & PROMOTION Revenue management and price optimization is a core-activity in any market oriented company operating in different industries (Retails, Fast Fashion, Chain Store, Car Rentals, Web Business, etc.). The goal of our suite is to provide, to the revenue managers, advanced analytics, using a unique combination and integration of predictive, optimization and simulation models. While the analytics tools are complex the results are always presented in an intuitive way. The core products included in the Revenue, Sale, Price & Promotion (RSP&P) suite are: Dynamic Price Optimizer (DPO), the multi-paradigm predictive paltform - Before! Predictive Analytics with Before! Sales Campaign -, the customers and market profiling analytics (CMP), the promotion optimization and what-if analysis platform - Before! Promo.  Before! Sales Campaign Before! Sales Campaign software addresses the needs of industries where the products and the merchandise assortments, have a fast renewal  dynamics, even during the same season, like the case of fashion and  fast-fashion channels, electronics or several web-business  Before! Promo Before!Promo, is a complete multi-paradigm analytical tool by ACTOR, developed for scaling enterprise companies. In the current competitive scenario the consumers pay high attention to the promotions, on the other hand promotions exposed retailers and vendors to higher risks in terms of image, in case of stock-out or costs in case of over-stock. When products are fresh-food or fast fashion for example, the risks become even higher.  Before! Predictive Analytics  Before! Predictive Analytics or simply Before!, is a complete multi-paradigm demand forecasting platform by ACTOR, developed for scaling enterprise companies. Before! provides you the capability to forecast the demand while gaining control of the related organization processes such as; planning, procurement, inventory optimization, store replenishments, etc..  Dynamic Price Optimization  Dynamic Price Optimization (DPO) is a capacity and revenue management software based on sophisticated analytical algorithms. It permits users to optimize the prices of products, assets and commodities over the time based on the expected demand, the competitor’s prices and other key-information like, for example, price elasticity.   +MORE



Gary Hawkins, CEO , Center for Advancing Retail and Technology

CART’s Innovation Program, done in partnership with Retail Tomorrow, is a unique offering that works for retailers and solution providers alike. Designed for national and larger regional retailers, the CART team works with the retailer’s executive team to identify 2-3 specific areas of interest like automation, in-store experience, etc. With interests established, the team then goes to work identifying the leading solution providers in each area, filtering through and curating the most appropriate capabilities. That process often entails talking with each solution to ensure applicability and set expectations. Amongst the many factors we evaluate is making sure the size and scale of the retailer is aligned with the solution provider’s resources. Connecting a young solution to a massive retailer might sound exciting, but if the solution provider lacks the resources to pilot and then scale deployments it leads to frustration on all sides. Once the appropriate solution providers have been identified we all go on-site to the retailer’s HQ to spend a day with their executive team focused around education as each solution is given an opportunity to present to the group and talk about what they do. The format allows for Q&A along with opportunity to start building relationships as everyone networks over coffee breaks and lunch. From the solution provider’s perspective, the opportunity to get time with the senior exec team from prominent retailers is invaluable. Once a solution provider is selected to participate, the CART team will work with you to review your presentation materials to make sure you’re providing the most powerful and relevant message possible about your company and what you do. The CART team will provide some coaching for the presenters to make sure you deliver your message in the time allotted (these events are pretty tightly scripted to accomplish everything).  Expectations are clearly identified on all sides early in the process. From the retailer, CART is looking for executive level commitment and engagement with the process, the executive team’s commitment to spend the day with in the on-site meeting with all the solutions, and a commitment to seriously consider piloting appropriate solutions. From solution providers, CART is looking for new innovative capabilities to help the retailer address challenges they have or provide new capabilities that are beneficial to the retailer. This involves having a good understanding of retail and how retail works and helping educate everyone in the meeting as to the technologies involved. Retailers interested in learning more about the CART Innovation Program can get more information here Solutions interested in participating can learn more here +MORE

CART Weekly Report 3/7/19

CART, Advancing Retail

AMAZON PLANNING TO OPEN DOZENS OF GROCERY STORES, WSJ REPORTS | BLOOMBERG Gary's Take: While supermarket retailers are focused on the shift online, Amazon represents a much more significant threat as it is poised to disrupt the very business model that drives US supermarket retail. And on top of that, Amazon is deftly bringing the pieces together as the food industry and healthcare converge. This and more is discussed in my latest book "Retail in the Age of I". AMAZON TO LAUNCH NEW GROCERY BUSINESS | WSJ Gary's Take: Amazon represents a threat to traditional supermarket retail far beyond the move online. Amazon is poised to truly disrupt the business model that all but a few grocery retailers rely on to power sales and profits. My latest book, "Retail in the Age of 'I'" (available on Amazon - where else?) explores this threat and more.  A New Podcast about “Technology, Innovation, and the Independent Retailer” | Retail Tomorrow with host Kevin Coupe From the floor of the National Grocers Association (NGA) Show in San Diego, “Retail Tomorrow” host Kevin Coupe engages with a power panel of retailers and experts in a discussion of the unique technology challenges and opportunities facing independent retailers, which often are without the resources available to larger competitors, but that often have the cultural flexibility to experiment and innovate. Lauren Johnson, CEO/President, Newport Avenue Markets, Bend, Oregon. Lisa Mangino Swanson, Communications Director, Hugo's Family Marketplace, Grand Forks, North Dakota. Sterling Hawkins, Co-founder, Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART). Tom Furphy, CEO/Managing Director, Consumer Equity Partners. Glen Terbeek, the retired force behind Anderson Consulting’s Smart Store initiative (who brings uncommon sense and historical perspective to the conversation).   NEW BOOK! Retail in the Age of ‘I’ - A New World View for the Retail Industry | by Gary Hawkins now available on Amazon   Suggested Reading:  GIVING INDEPENDENT GROCERS AN ECOMMERCE BOOST By Jim Dudlicek, Progressive Grocer  ARE ROBOTS COMPETING FOR YOUR JOB? | The New Yorker   Featured Blog of the Week:  TRANSPORTATION OPTIMIZATION - A SILVER BULLET TO SOLVE "LAST MILE DELIVERY?"   Guest blog by Ted Matwijec, Managing Director, ACT Operations Research - Raleigh, NC  Learn how knowing your constraints and customer demands feeds sophisticated algorithms to provide optimal routing and balance delivery vs costs...  >>LEARN MORE   INFLUENCER MARKETING AND STORY-TELLING IN RETAIL - Los Angeles Immersion Event - March 19-21 The fifth Retail Tomorrow Immersion will take us to LA and put you in the middle of the latest thinking in storytelling, “influencing” in its many forms, and how both are impacting retailers and brands. We’ll do a deep dive on this subject at Google and YouTube’s glittering new campus at the historic former Howard Hughes airfield.  Event details RETAIL TOMORROW LABS: Los Angeles - Apply to Present  We help incubate ideas, concepts, products, services and other solutions with our community of retailers, brands, suppliers, innovators and other thought leaders to improve the overall shopping experience for the consumer.  Join us for the Retail Tomorrow LA Lab* during the Retail Tomorrow Los Angeles Event on March 21st. We're bringing together a highly exclusive group of 40+ retailers and brands. You'll have 10-15 minutes to present 1 on 1.  *fees apply   DON'T DELAY!! APPLICATIONS CLOSE MARCH 11 FOR THE SPRING 2019 RETAIL INNOVATION PITCH EVENT +MORE

Mobile App Pain Points

John Kangas, CEO, FwdMbl Solutions

Your current in-house system works great within your four walls.  The pain starts when you walk out that door and it can give you a full-on business migraine by the end of the day. We can ease the pain by targeting these five major sources when your workforce hits the road. Breakdowns in Communication When an Account Manager, Sales Rep, Delivery Driver, or Customer directly needs information, they need it NOW!  It should not require phone calls, strings of emails to and from the office or multiple warehouse locations to find product, invoice information, aging or account information, upcoming orders, etc. It’s frustrating and time consuming for everyone involved.  You should not require an Internet connection to give this to your customer when you are standing in front of them. FwdMbl Solutions gives Account Managers, Sales Reps, Delivery Drivers all this information right at their fingertips. It is available without the need for Wi-Fi or a cell signal and can be printed, emailed or faxed right there. There’s no need to track down items or pricing, looking up inventory and pricing is immediate. Pricing Errors Let’s face it, pricing can be complicated. If updates in pricing don’t make it to the ones that are selling in the field you can lose money. If incorrect information is given it can turn into an embarrassing situation.  Pricing can be different per customer given contracted pricing or discounts. Sales may be given leeway to adjust pricing on the fly within reason.  There are many scenarios as there are companies.  Pricing needs to be up-to-date and correct each and every time FwdMbl Solutions handles all pricing scenarios. All pricing updates can be real-time saving you money and confusion. Workflow Issues The system you are using doesn’t match your workflow.  You need to hunt for your tasks and weed through things you don’t use.  You are jumping from one item to another just to complete these tasks.  This takes precious time and leads to frustration. FwdMbl Solutions gives you role-based programming.  It gives you only your work for the day and one task seamlessly flows to the next. It’s so efficient, before you know it, your day is complete with time to spare! Internet Connection/Equipment Problems I see it almost every day while going to the grocery store, convenience store or my favorite restaurant.  Account Managers, Sales People, and Delivery Drivers trying to connect to Wi-Fi, or get any Internet connection.  Once they do, connection is slow and they have wait for webpages to display on their screen.  When it does finally appear, the information is hard to read or cannot be given to the customer. Printers disconnect or jam. Old devices just giving up the ghost. FwdMbl Solutions’ Apps are native apps that work connected or disconnected. They are not merely a webpage you are trying to display on your phone.  We use our unique technology to make sure your employees are never waiting for the information they need.  Once the information is pinpointed it can be printed, emailed or faxed to give immediate access to your customer. Training is Difficult FwdMbl Solutions’ Apps are robust, yet simple and elegant.  The screens are not busy or hard to read.  The workflow is intuitive and training is a breeze. The PAIN IS REAL!  When your software is in your employees’ hands and doesn’t work disconnected, has missing or inaccurate customer or order information, has printer or scanner malfunctions, or is cumbersome to use it is a recipe for unhappy employees and unhappy customers. At FwdMbl Solutions we can enhance your customer experience and improve employee satisfaction with our Mobile Apps and Portals.  We do this by connecting to your existing systems, so there is no need to change everything you do, only what they see.  We interface to your backend ERP, POS or other systems and display your information in a Mobile App or Portal that is fast and truly mobile. It is easy to use and best of all, it runs on the mobile phone you already own. Don’t own a phone? You can use an affordable Android device from our hardware partners. +MORE

Five Predictions for Retail Transformation in 2019

Gary Hawkins, CEO , Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART)

As we begin 2019, tomorrow is no longer going to resemble today. The pace of tech-fueled innovation continues to grow, bringing with it increasing change across the supply chain and greater impact on traditional retail operations and models. 2019 is going to be a year of even greater change. Here are five key areas to watch this year: Frictionless shopping: The Amazon Go store with its cashier-less shopping experience has gotten the industry’s attention and this year we will see a great deal of activity in this space. There are several tech companies working to bring similar capabilities to the retail industry along with cost-effectively scaling the technology to work in traditional supermarkets. I believe the proliferation of retailers’ mobile apps having some kind of self-shopping capability - the shopper scanning their products as they shop using their smartphone and then an expedited payment process - is an interim step to a completely frictionless shopping environment. The whole idea of the Amazon Go store is to make buying products as easy as possible; the shopper having to use their app to scan and pay makes it easier to buy but not as easy as just walking in, picking up what you want, and walking out. Automated fulfillment: Kroger’s partnership with Ocado to build and operate twenty automated grocery eComm fulfillment centers is on track. We are seeing several other retailers enter into agreements with Takeoff Technologies to build mini automated fulfillment centers that can sit in the backroom, automatically fulfilling high-velocity packaged goods ordered online. Walmart is working with a partner to build an automated fulfillment center that is designed to sit alongside their stores, fulfilling high-volume products. In 2019 we are going to see even more activity in this space as other retailers will be forced to follow these leaders as automation brings efficiency and lower fulfillment costs, opening up a productivity gap. We will be seeing other technology providers step into this space as the market expands. Automated delivery: Kroger’s partnership with Nuro to use automated, driverless delivery vehicles to deliver online orders to the shopper’s home is already in pilot. Udelv and other solutions will be gaining more interest as retailers begin to focus more attention on the final mile delivery. While many retailers have signed deals with Instacart or Shipt to handle actual delivery, we’re going to see growing interest in Uber and other services to handle deliveries and fast growing interest in automated solutions like Nuro and Udelv in search of cost efficiencies. Health & Wellness gets personal: The wearables market is growing fast as Apple’s Watch and similar devices provide even more functionality to monitor key health indicators in realtime. The explosion in health data coming from these wearables will become increasingly tied to food guidance, helping the individual understand what specific food products to purchase and consume based upon the individual’s health condition and realtime data. As an example, Dexcom recently released a device that provides realtime glucose monitoring for people with diabetes. The ability to use knowledge of an individual’s glucose levels at that specific time - for example, while they are standing in front of the shelf - will inform guidance to beneficial foods. This movement is already underway as the massive food and healthcare industries converge, driven by Amazon’s ownership of Whole Foods, PillPack, and other activity in healthcare. Kroger’s Opt-UP app enables the shopper to easily understand the quality of the foods they are buying and easily filter the store’s product selection based upon the shopper’s interests, needs, and preferences. Look for a lot more activity around this space in the coming year. Melding of digital and physical retail: While most industry activity has been focused around eCommerce and automation of fulfillment and delivery of orders, I believe we are going to see growing attention to the melding of digital and physical shopping. This encompasses bringing augmented reality into the store and shopping experience; we’ll also see growing activity in virtual reality shopping as VR tech gets better and cheaper. Digital signage will spread across the store and get smarter, not only using demographic info to present messaging relevant to the person standing in front of the screen, but engagement will be far more personalized. Kroger’s new shelf Edge system is moving in this direction, lighting up as a shopper moves down the aisle to call out relevant products. Obviously there are many more areas where technology is going to transform retail but these are five key areas to watch. Each of these fundamentally changes the game: Frictionless shopping and automating fulfillment and delivery remove significant costs and will put growing pressure on competing retailers as companies using these technologies scale deployments.  Personalization will move quickly, not just in marketing but in linking an Individual shopper’s health to her favorite store’s product assortment, guiding the shopper to products to improve her wellbeing.  Lastly, shopping is about to become far more interesting and truly immersive as technology really begins to impact the shopping experience, whether you are in the brick & mortar store or sitting at home. +MORE

Pseudo Customer Centricity: Fool’s Gold

Gary Hawkins on Winsight Grocery Business, CART

Retailers must employ a customer-first philosophy into organizational culture Many regional retailers are (at last!) intent on becoming customer-centric, more than a decade after The Kroger Co. led the way and more than two decades after early loyalty pioneers proved the value of a true customer focus. But too many retailers believe that customer centricity can simply be bolted on to their organizations without realizing that true customer centricity is far more involved. Like the intrepid gold miners of the 1840s, these retailers awaken to the realization that what they’ve taken for retail gold is in actuality a false promise, seduced by the fools gold of pseudo customer centricity. I can recount meetings with senior executives from well-known retailers who espouse their customer centricity efforts; spending massive sums on consultants and solutions powered by a decade’s old approach based on customer segments integrated to the retailer’s category planning processes, and even personalized offers to shoppers. Countless of these retailers remain anchored in a product-focused world, even those who tout using technology to discover what products should be put on offer to their customers rather than starting with a vendor-funded offer pool.  True disciples of customer centricity deeply embed a customer-first philosophy into their organizational culture, extending it to every part of the enterprise. These companies realize that providing savings on products relevant to the shopper is only the beginning. Leading companies such as Amazon and Kroger are investing heavily in taking customer centricity to the next level: comprehensive, seamless user experiences across channels and devices, integrating personalized product recommendations with an understanding of the individual shopper’s specific health conditions, and laying the technology foundation for immersive shopping experiences melding the physical and digital worlds. Customer first disciples understand the dynamic flow of customers and their shopping behavior over time, putting in place capabilities and processes attuned to providing contextual relevancy inside and outside the store. And personalization—driven by past purchases and recommendation algorithms—is fast evolving to what I think of as strategic hyper-personalization, leveraging vast intelligence about each individual shopper to power a mix of recommendations to win the shopping trip, grow baskets, maximize retention, and foster customer advocacy—one customer at a time, in real time. Many regional retailers are based in more rural areas where company executives believe their shoppers are less tech savvy, relieving pressure on digital imperatives. According to Pew Research, 95% of Americans own a cellphone in 2018, with 77% of Americans owning a smartphone. Pew also calls out that in 2018, 89% of Americans use the internet. Location is no longer a proxy for customer technology illiteracy.  This year, Amazon is projected to realize over $258 billion in U.S. retail sales, an estimated 49% of all online retail spending in the United States. With this kind of penetration, and the ability to ship products anywhere overnight, traditional supermarket retailers would do well to remember that their shoppers are increasingly expecting (demanding!) the seamless and comprehensive user experience provided by Amazon, and increasingly by Kroger and Walmart. Yet, too many retailers remain mired in digital purgatory, constrained by capability silos and the inability to bring piecemeal capabilities together in a seamless fashion for shoppers.  Lastly, many seasoned grocery executives have spent their careers being rewarded for following, letting someone else bring innovation to market and only following when it has been proven successful. Years ago IT executives would buy IBM, even if it wasn’t the best choice, but because it was the "safe" choice. This practice continues today as retailers sign deals with "established" providers because they believe it is the safe choice, failing to understand that today’s environment rewards fresh, forward-looking thinking. Retail executives need to look beyond yesterday’s approach to customer centricity to capabilities and platforms that actually position the retailer for future success. The cost of failing to provide a seamless shopping experience, for failing to provide true individual shopper personalization, and failing to provide real time contextual relevancy, can rapidly obliterate any savings or security from yesterday’s "proven" approach. Tom Furphy, a former Amazon executive and the originator of Amazon Fresh, in a recent interviewspeaking to the challenges retailers face today, especially a reliance on past practices, says it all: “What seems safe is actually destructive. That’s a recipe for longer term disaster.” This article originally appeared on Winsight Grocery Business and can be viewed here +MORE

The Top Five Ways Retailers Benefit from Industry Trade Shows

Courtney Muller, Chief Corporate Development & Strategy Officer, Clarion UX

When was the last time you attended a retail or food and beverage trade show? If you have to pause to think of the answer – or know immediately that the answer is, “Never” – then it might be time to find a show or expo near you. Trade shows are the best places for those within the industry to get out of their stores and network; find new products and stay abreast of the cutting edge technology offerings; and gain invaluable education in the areas you need it most. In short, even if you spend time every day trying to stay current, you could never see it all – or know what to search for. There is no better place than a trade show … from seeing new products, meeting new people, becoming educated on a new way to engage your customers, or finding out about technology … this is the place to find what you don’t know!   Here are some of the top reasons you should attend a trade show this year: Network with Decision Makers When you think of networking, perhaps the typical “mixer” scenario comes to mind with people you don’t know awkwardly milling about a bar or restaurant, trying to strike up conversations with random people in the hopes that you might be able to benefit one another in some way. Networking at a trade show couldn’t be any more different. As an attendee, you can specifically find exhibitors with the products you seek; attend educational sessions that pertain to topics you are interested in, therefore attracting other audience members who share the same challenges; and be assured that your peers in the same industry as you are seeking similar solutions as you.  And you might even run into a colleague you haven’t seen in years! Find New Products and Foods You subscribe to industry periodicals and get Google Alerts in your inbox every day, but have you seen that new robot that identifies out of stock items and potential slip and fall hazards? Have you read about leveraging data to establish loyalty and trust with food delivery customers? A trade show is the perfect venue to scope out all that is new in the retail world from tech products to new foods and services – all in one place – to help you use technology to create a seamless customer experience. As you look for new technology innovation to keep you competitive, you may find the perfect partner for online ordering, rapid delivery, or rapid checkout through customer’s smartphones.  No matter what you want to go to a trade show to find, you will likely be pleasantly surprised by discovering even more than you thought along the aisles. See New Trends in Action Are vegan offerings a must-have? Should you offer chef demonstrations to showcase meal ideas? Are international flavors high on consumer’s minds? What chef dishes are they trying replicate at home? Be on the front line of this year’s and next year’s trends so you can bank on what your customers will be looking for in the near future. You’ll walk away with new products and great ideas you can implement immediately in your store operations. You may even realize that you are on the verge of creating an entirely different trend yourself that has yet to appear on the market – good information that you can capitalize on in the year to come. Receive Best in Class Education If school is a distant memory – or perhaps you learned hands-on in a family business and worked your way up the ranks – one of the best perks of most trade shows is the educational content provided to attendees and exhibitors alike. Whether you’re interested in operational excellence, developing your workforce, building bigger baskets, or sessions dedicated to those hot new tech trends we previously mentioned, trade shows like The NGA Show (presented by the National Grocers Association) in San Diego this coming February will have you covered on all fronts. What’s more, you can connect with presenting industry specialists to gain even more valuable insight into the topics that interest you most. Gain Immediate, Actionable Ideas The bottom line … your time is valuable and you want to spend any time out of your store obtaining the cream of the crop ideas - from new products, growth strategies and tech trends. Hear what the experts have to share, sample emerging products, uncover new technology, and refresh your enthusiasm for the business. You’ll walk away with a plan to bring all of these new ideas and initiatives into your store operation to drive profits, growth and innovation.   No matter where you are in your retail career, a trade show will no doubt provide you with opportunities, education and inspiration as you progress in the business. Interested in learning more? Check out the upcoming NGA show: National Grocers Association Show, San Diego, CA, February 24-27, 2019, www.thengashow.com  Each year, The NGA Show brings together independent retailers and wholesalers, food retail industry executives, food/CPG manufacturers and service providers for unparalleled opportunities to learn, engage, share, network, and innovate.  Given today’s ever-changing marketplace and evolving advancements in innovation occurring in the food retail industry, The NGA Show is a must-attend event, providing over 40 educational workshops, an expo floor featuring innovative and game-changing products and solutions and countless networking opportunities.  Registration is open at www.thengashow.com – early bird registration rates in effect through December 10, 2018.  +MORE

NGA Show 2019: The Epicenter of Grocery Industry Innovation

CART, Advancing Retail

In a special event leading up to the opening of the new NGA Show 2019, CART will bring together unique education, an impressive line up of speakers, and cutting edge innovation to make San Diego the epicenter of grocery industry innovation during Feb. 24-27, 2019. With a focus on regional retailers and dynamic independent operators, the CART team will present an innovation tour de force designed to help attendees not only stay in the game but help them win. CART is coming together with leading retailers through-out the industry to provide attendees a new worldview for the future of retail where transformation and disruption are the new normal: iRetail. Focused on five ‘i’s, iRetail will give attending executives a framework for evaluating their existing capabilities and provide a roadmap to closing the innovation gap. In a time of declining and disappearing industry events, the NGA Show has become a beacon of light for the industry as it has grown each year, even outgrowing its longtime home in Las Vegas, spurring the move to San Diego this coming February. CART has had a long time partnership with NGA and is taking the relationship to a new level this year, building on the success of CART’s Innovation Event at last year’s show.  Make sure to put Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, on your calendar and plan to attend the CART special event at the new NGA Show! +MORE

Technology's Profound Impact on the Supermarket Industry

Peter Larkin, President & CEO, National Grocers Association

Often cited as the one of the greatest catalyst of change within the retail grocery industry, technology is an area that independent supermarket operators must understand, and embrace.  Technology continues to have a profound impact, where virtually every detail of the supermarket industry is being touched by new solutions and platforms. I see three technology threads, each entwined with the other. One is the explosion of mobile applications and programs that are turning grocery shoppers into high information consumers. According to Pew research, smart phone adoption among Americans has more than doubled since 2011. Not only are shoppers becoming more sophisticated, but they are using technology as a way to gain more information, transparency, and convenience. At the touch of a mobile screen, consumers can instantly access to updated information on locally sourced perishables, competitive promotions, price checks and recipe ingredient lists. In turn, this migration to the digital space is shaping customer relationships with retailers. Today’s shopper does not want to be talked to but instead wants to be a part of the conversation. Consumer product manufacturers and marketers make up a second technology thread. By analyzing large chunks of customer data and retail sales, manufacturers, retailers and service suppliers are exploring innovative ways to touch their target audiences. Big data though can be vast and hard to harness. Whether it’s social media, a mobile payment system, or loyalty programs, technology can effectively create many new opportunities for savvy retailers to learn about and to connect with their shoppers to better serve their needs. A good place to see and learn about a number of these innovative solutions is right here at www.advancingretail.org. The third thread is in the store itself, where technology is increasingly employed to improve overall store productivity to program more effective lighting, to boost checkout efficiency, to track shopper traffic flows to improve layout and sales per square foot, or to offer customers immediate cost savings via real time wifi connections as they shop. A great, and very recent, example of this is Sedano's Supermarkets launch of a “robotic supermarket,” which entails an automated fulfillment center where AI-enabled robots will assemble full supermarket orders of up to 60 items. While the landscape is quickly evolving, many independent grocers are taking advantage of cutting-edge technologies to engage with their shoppers, find efficiencies, and reach new and existing customers where, how, and when they want. Independents have been making their move into digital. They are hiring dedicated staff, dedicating marketing budgets to digital initiatives, more effectively leveraging social media platforms, and integrating the latest technologies into their business strategies.  With the dramatic pace in which new apps and tech solutions are coming on to the market, it can all seem a bit overwhelming, but technology will play a defining role in the supermarket industry.  Those retailers that are on the forefront of implementing new technology and embrace the hyper-connected, tech-savvy consumer are positioning themselves for success. I’m one who is convinced that these threads will weave into a pattern of rising sales and profits. And that’s why the 2019 NGA Show will kick-off with a new educational event, spearheaded by our partners at CART, entitled “iRetail: Technology Innovation Reshaping the Grocery Industry.” The event is designed to give supermarket operators a framework for navigating fast-paced innovation while maintaining a focus on the importance of people and physical stores as we move into the future. Despite increased competition from all angles, it is an exciting time for the supermarket industry – and we at NGA are bullish about what the future holds for the independent grocers! Known as the true entrepreneurs of the industry, independents are nimble enough to quickly overcome obstacles, and are finding innovative ways to respond to changing consumer preferences, which is something they’ve always been good at given their close ties to their communities and the consumers they serve. +MORE

Pace of Innovation -- Shattering the Status Quo

Gary Hawkins, CART

Retailers are shellshocked by the increasing pace of technology fueled innovation that is transforming and disrupting the industry. It seems not a week goes by that we don’t read about yet another new competitor entering the grocery space or some new innovation being rolled out by an existing competitor. Case in point: Kroger’s recent announcement that it is deploying its Shop, Scan, and Bag self-shopping solution at 400+ stores. This in response to Amazon’s cashier-less Go store pilot and Walmart’s similar self-shopping solution. Supermarket retailers are challenged on several fronts relative to innovation. It is nearly impossible for a retailer to be aware of all the new innovation entering the market. As an example, CART reviews an estimated 100 new solutions each month. Beyond awareness though is the challenge of deciding what areas to focus on (supply chain, distribution, marketing, store operations, etc.) and deciding what specific solution to pilot. And then having to decide what new capabilities to deploy across operating stores. Having efficient operations, quality foods, and great pricing and service is simply the cost of entry to supermarket retail. The new battleground is innovation. This is a new world for retailers to navigate. As an example, we see too many retailers implementing different digital capabilities in a piecemeal fashion rather than working towards a cohesive and comprehensive platform. The self-shopping capability mentioned earlier is a great example. Some retailers are trying to implement this kind of capability through a third-party app or a separate app rather than bundling it into one mobile app for their customers. Shoppers are after an omni-channel, seamless experience, not being forced to interact with different apps or systems to do business with a retailer. CART is here to help. We’re able to leverage our strong retail experience, industry knowledge, and unique insight to new capabilities and innovation flowing into the market to help retailers understand where they are today relative to their competitors and best-in-class retailers. Developing an innovation roadmap is important to help in prioritizing what new innovation to focus on and to create a foundation capable of adapting to new capabilities and technologies as they come into the market. +MORE


FwdMbl Solutions, LLC

Account Management, DSD, Route Sales, & Proof of Delivery Apps Mobile Sales & DSD Customer, Leads, Prospects Orders, Credits, Invoices Aging, Statements Receive On Account, Credit Cards GPS Tracking & Signature Capture Print, Email, & Fax Documents Items, Availability, Inventory Images DEX, NEX & EDI Warehouse Transfers & Scrap Multi-Language Works Offline Proof of Delivery Delivery List Stop List Route & Stop Status GPS Tracking Signature Capture Returnable Container Tracking Asset Tracking Pallet Tracking Customer & Stop Documents Multi-Language Works Offline Account Management Customers, Leads, Prospects Quotes, Estimates, Notes Orders, Credits & Returns Receive On Account Aging, Statements Documents Sales History Warehouse Inventory Customer & Item Documents Multi-Language Works Offline Route, Inventory & Order Management Inventory Management Items, Kits Serial Number, Lot Tracking Expiration Date, FIFO/LIFO All Types of Transactions Reason Codes, Notes Pick, Pack, & Ship Reorder Points & Planning Barcode Labels & Scanning Multi Site, Warehouse, Bin Mobile Inventory App Order Management Customers Sales Orders Credits, Returns Dispatch Orders Work Orders Invoicing Quotes Inventory Integration Accounting Systems Integrations Mobile Sales App Route Management Driver & Route Setup Customer Assignment Inventory Assignment Cash Settlement Inventory Settlement Route Reports Signature Reviews Timeline & GPS Tracking Integration With Other Systems Mobile Management App   +MORE


Inventory Module

BRdata Software Solutions

The BRdata inventory module gives users the resources needed to easily track perpetual inventory by updating item quantities with automated retrieval of POS sales movement and in-store received items. Take control over inventory replenishment and prevent under/over ordering. Monitor and report on stock levels, costs and averages to gain a clear view into your true inventory costing and profitability. Gain control over your inventory with the BRdata Inventory module which gives users the resources needed to easily manage stock levels.  Eliminate uncertainty by better managing inventory and costs while ensuring you have sufficient on-hand stock to fill anticipated store sales and avoiding overstock. +MORE


BRdata Host

BRdata Software Solutions

BRdata Host™ is a powerful, flexible, feature-rich host support system. Retailers need to retrieve sales movement while controlling price and cost information from one central database daily or weekly to achieve a competitive advantage.  BRdata Host makes this all possible at an affordable price.  It is a multi-user graphical system built on Microsoft Windows technology, which provides retailers and wholesalers with the tools they need for effective item and category management.  Gain the advantage of easy integration to existing systems as well as tight integration to all of BRdata’s software product lines. Host Support Includes interfaces to most POS systems including the Standard Interchange Language (SIL).  One consolidated database for all item information.  Item prices can be broken down into multiple zones by store department or vendor.  Sales and promos are date-driven with unlimited future prices.  Host to store compare utility checks for price and item discrepancies between BRdata Host and store POS file, with an option to modify and automatically import the discrepancy batch. +MORE


Direct Store Delivery (DSD)

BRdata Software Solutions

Maintaining control over product received at the store backdoor is crucial.  Using the BRdata DSD (Direct Store Delivery) system, users can instantly and easily verify that the costs, allowances, quantities, and products received are what is expected from the vendor. Smooth flow of DSD will increase the speed of receiving for both the store and vendor, ensure accurate inventories and correct cost/retail maintenance.  Allowing you to know exactly what is being received and at what cost at the time of delivery is an essential tool that will contribute significantly to the profitability of your retail grocery operations. +MORE


Store Data Exchange (DEX)

BRdata Software Solutions

Store Data Exchange (DEX) is a hardware and software solution that allows retailers to electronically receive vendor invoices at the time of delivery. +MORE



BRdata Software Solutions

BRdata Store is a powerful and flexible, full-function in-store retail solution.  Retailers can track sales movement while controlling price and cost information from one central database.  BRdata store is a multi-user,graphical application.  Databases can be stored or accessed locally in the store or remotely via a thin-client connection to a BRdata Host system in a chain environment. +MORE


Natural Commerce

Natural Commerce

Natural Commerce is the only combination Endless Aisle and Group Buying Platform CO-OP BUYING FOR THE DIGITAL AGE. You win and your customers win by minimizing leakage. By having more selection online to meet more customer’s needs, you prevent customers from going somewhere else to find what they’re looking for. You win and your customers win by maximizing revenue and profit. By expanding your online assortment, you will fully leverage your customer base and your share of wallet with a value proposition on food and products not found in stores or on your current website--along with great prices and free shipping to maximize conversion, cart size, and frequency of purchase.  EDI and API Integrations  GREATER SELECTION = MEETING THE NEEDS OF MORE CUSTOMERS With a greater selection, you’ll fully leverage your customers while they are in “buy mode” on your site and by meeting those needs you’ll sell more products, to more customers, more often. Whether you want to add 300, 3,000, or 30,000 additional SKU’s, Natural Commerce makes it fast, painless, and incredibly cost-effective. Because you go beyond brick and mortar boundaries, you can strategically expand assortment to better meet each customer’s needs and expectations. And more personalization means more sales and revenue for you. At Natural Commerce, we specialize in adding the best Natural, Specialty, and Organic products in the world to our SKU set. Unlike other providers, we take the entire vendor onboarding process off your hands, so you can stay focused on operating your retail business, instead of troubleshooting with suppliers and worrying about your supply chain. Simply put, through the Natural Commerce platform, you're instantly connected to a virtual inventory through our unmatched network of trusted Natural, Specialty, and Organic product and food suppliers—precisely managed to your specifications and preferences.  Welcome to Intelligent Inventory. With true on-demand distribution, there’s no need to stockpile inventory or build fulfillment and distribution centers. Natural Commerce’s fulfillment network help you maximize profitability, free up capital, and minimize costly surpluses. WHY DOES THE NATURAL COMMERCE ADD-ON ENDLESS AISLE MAKES SENSE? Our turn-key Endless Aisle website solution instantly gives your customers significantly more selection while you don’t have to:  Purchase or Hold Inventory Pay for Additional Labor Have Breakage Deal with Fulfillment, Shipping, or Logistics Choose from over 20,000 products to make available under your brand name, as you see fit. Because only Natural Commerce has the only combination online Endless Aisle and Group Buying Platform with a complete front end-website, you're guaranteed to deliver the lowest prices to your customers at the highest margins. White Label e-Commerce Sites  GREATER SELECTION = MEETING THE NEEDS OF MORE CUSTOMERS With a greater selection, you’ll fully leverage your customers while they are in “buy mode” on your site and by meeting those needs you’ll sell more products, to more customers, more often. Whether you want to add 300, 3,000, or 30,000 additional SKU’s, Natural Commerce makes it fast, painless, and incredibly cost-effective. Because you go beyond brick and mortar boundaries, you can strategically expand assortment to better meet each customer’s needs and expectations. And more personalization means more sales and revenue for you. OUR ENDLESS-AISLE, WHITE-LABEL WEBSITE SOLUTION Simply put, Natural Commerce does it all by delivering: A new, additional website that is a part of your omni channel solution. Think "YourBrandEndless.com", which we run. Natural Commerce will run everything from customer service to fulfillment under your newly branded site. Natural Commerce will also provide the promotional tools: Run site banner links from your existing site to the new Endless Aisle site. Build and provide postcard sized bag and box inserts (on recycled paper) at all checkout lines in all stores. Build and provide indoor signage at all stores. Build and provide weekly promotional emails to be sent to your entire email list. Build and provide weekly posts on your social media accounts. Plus, as the central aggregator for this space, Natural Commerce's group buying strategy provides for lower cost of goods than any individual brand can achieve on their own, which translates to lower cost for consumers. Your customers get the benefit of great food, prices and selection—along with free shipping. Natural Commerce goes well beyond brick and mortar (limited by shelf space), pick and pack (limited by brick and mortar), or old school purchasing and warehousing models, and delivers you a 15% margin on everything purchased with minimal bandwidth and effort and no setup costs or fees.  An Online Marketplace for Makers and Merchants  Natural Commerce is the only national, online, aggregated marketplace devoted exclusively to natural, specialty, and organic food and product makers. A truly aggregated marketplace to build your company's name, brand, reputation, and—most importantly—sales!  Natural Commerce allows Makers and Manufacturers of natural, specialty, and organic food and products to focus on what they do best: making yummy deliciousness and the best socially-responsible products. At Natural Commerce, we believe in natural, specialty, and organic food and products. We think everyone should be able to have access to the natural, non-processed, organic, gourmet, or dietary foods and products they want or need along with the responsible products they are looking for. We take the consumer access of a local farmer's market and bring it online with a staggeringly larger consumer reach. We do this by aggregating the access to your products on large and small online grocery stores alike. By leveraging the Natural Commerce platform you will be able to: Manage your product content on multiple e-commerce sites from one secure, centralized portal. Make your products available on all of our e-commerce and grocery websites to drive sales. Get the sales data you need to get your products onto the physical shelves of these retailers and grocers. The process is simple: Each maker or manufacturer signs up and logs into the Natural Commerce dashboard. The maker inputs all the details of each of their products and sends a sample product to Natural Commerce to be accepted onto the platform. Once accepted, their account goes live and their products get sold on the e-commerce sites of dozens of merchants (grocery stores and other retailers) from coast-to-coast. The maker is notified of a purchase and dropships the product to the customer. The maker and merchant are happy with the uptick in revenue, expanding their brand recognition, and their increase in market share. +MORE




ecUtopia operates a best-in-class, cloud-based total supply chain management platform powered by EDI and B2B E-Commerce methodologies. Our company, with a focus on enhancing all aspects of the supply chain, is a trusted B2B E-Commerce provider for thousands of private and publicly traded organizations worldwide. ecUtopia speeds up global supply chain management  ecUtopia connects Retailers, Vendors, Manufacturers, Carriers, 3PL’s and Consumers. Our easy to use, cloud-based tools provide complete visibility into your global supply chain and allow trading partners of all sizes to share data to ensure your entire supply chain operates efficiently.    As the retailer, you want to avoid buying, testing, and upgrading expensive EDI software. You need a solution that is easy to use and has robust functionality. You want a solution that is easy for your manufacturers to use and adopt. Your partners EDI file formats are translated into a format that your applications can use for automatic data entry and export, and for viewing and updating through our web portal. Little to no training is required for you and your vendors. We use tools that make it easy to make and deliver changes without big price tags or complex upgrade processes. Drop Ship/Ecommerce Management Enable Drop Ship capabilities to grow sales and customer satisfaction. You can trust ecUtopia to make drop ship easy, paperless and cost effective for your company. Selling your products has just gotten simpler with the ability for customers to order from you and receive products directly from vendors without the added shipping and handling costs.  Inventory Management Utilize vendor inventory availability to expand your lineup and fulfill promises to your customers. ecUtopia is here to make your business even easier through inventory management. This allows you to streamline your company’s ordering process and enable your access to inventory across the entire supply chain, all the while lowering costs and increasing profits.  EDI Testing We want to make sure your systems are fully prepared to communicate effectively with your trading partners! At ecUtopia, we have the Validator to guarantee success. The Validator test EDI documents to ensure that trading partners are fully prepared to exchange data. Our support team guides the testing process through to completion and ensures successful results. Let us help you maintain 100% compliance and good standing with your trading partners! ecUtopia sets up all vendors to send and receive documents electronically in the exact format specified by their trading partners, meeting EDI compliance. The sky is the limit for ecUtopia! Vendors can utilize functions such as printing barcodes for pre-labeling or can use custom functions for processes such as direct-ship. We can create specific functionalities catered to your company to make your business flow smoother.  Logistics and Shipment Tracking Easily manage ship notices, as well as shipping labels for all drop-ship orders. The communication between vendor and retailer is key throughout the entire process of ordering merchandise and all the way through receiving the product. ecUtopia provides easy to use shipment tracking tools to ensure that the product ordered is the product received. We are here to provide visibility so you know where the product is at all times and how when it will arrive at the retailer’s desired destination (even a customer home). With ecUtopia logistics and shipment tracking is integrated with common carriers such as; UPS, USPS, FedEx or private trucking companies enabling status updates and understanding of where your product is at all times.  Catalog Management Build your lineup with vendor catalog data and images. The days of large, bulky, overwhelming inventory catalogues are over! EcUtopia offers the ability for vendors to send you, as the retailer, catalogues electronically. This enables the retailer to create new products and additional line ups, more easily. Accurate information will eliminate errors that currently exist between the retailer and vendor. Catalogues sent through EDI have each product with details, pictures and costs. As the retailer, you will be able to leverage the information from the vendor catalogues and utilize it directly into your sellable inventory, eliminating product entry errors.  Order Management Unlock the key to supply chain efficiency with Order Management. The most important part of a business is the orders! Through the order process ecUtopia bridges the gap between retailer and vendor to make the order process easy and efficient. Our job is to create a common platform for partnerships to understand each others system without issues. ecUtopia will oversee purchase order delivery to order fulfillment.  Label and Packing Slip Production ecUtopia is here to help in all your labeling/barcoding needs! ecUtopia’s web portal is the solution for all barcoding processes. Our system aids in labeling compliance. Our barcodes correlate to the Advanced Ship Notice (ASN) and allow the retailer to confirm the receipt of the package once scanned. The barcodes are typically printed on Avery 4—6 labels. Barcoding allows the supply chain to run much more smoothly by automating the shipping piece of the process.  Load Tendering Retailers have learned that managing their own freight can save millions of dollars a year while offering unmatched visibility and increased inventory turns. Our load tendering module offers the robust features found in dedicated Traffic Management Systems (TMS) that allow you to take control of your shipments and get them from Origin to Destination like a logistics pro.   +MORE



Orderbot Software Inc.

ORDER MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE FROM BEGINNING TO END  An operation management platform based around the life cycle of an order. Also includes: Marketplace, EDI, Multi-Warehouse and Purchasing  PREVENT ERRORS: Use logical workflows which prevent you from missing steps.  INCREASE AWARENESS: Have a robust perspective of all your areas of operations.  ELIMINATE STEPS: Do everything with one click and integrated automation.  Ability to track and report on inventory in multiple locations/warehouses/storefronts  A centralized data entry point for multiple systems  Detailed reporting for sales and operational insights  Manage ecommerce platforms shipping notices and inventory with our ecommerce integrations including Workarea, Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, Spree and more  Multiple tools including ones for taking sales orders, purchasing, receiving, picking, packing, labeling and shipping  Ability to adjust costs  Take payments  Integrates with leading accounting platforms such as Quickbooks, Sage 50 and Xero  Receive and convert payments in any currency Create multiple bills of materials with manufacturing tools  Multichannel vendor and seller integrations  Pricing controls via customer, amounts or events +MORE


edict systems

Edict Systems

BUYER EDI SERVICES We work with some of the largest buyer organizations in the world to outsource their EDI connectivity and trading community management. We currently support over 30,000 trading relationships.  MANAGED EC FOR BUYERS With ManagedEC, get out of the EDI business and focus on what your business does best. ManagedEC combines cloud-based EDI connectivity, project management, technical expertise, and a dedicated EDI Coordinator providing a comprehensive, outsourced EDI solution.  ENTERPRISE EC  EnterpriseEC is a Cloud-based B2B Trading Network that lowers costs and simplifies connections and management of all EDI transactions and trading relationships.  CLOUD-BASED DATA MAPPING Cloud-based Data Mapping eliminates the need for in-house translation software, lowers costs, and reduces the mapping, integration, and implementation time for new or change documents.  TRANSACTION VALIDATION Transaction Validation provides an external business rule engine to ensure data integrity is maintained and only transactions that meet your specific criteria are passed to internal systems.  SUPPLIER EDI-ENABLING AND ONBOARDING Customized EDI-enabling and onboarding services save you time and valuable resources required to expand and manage your supply chain EDI operations.  SUPPLIER EDI TESTING AND CERTIFICATION Rapidly onboard EDI capable suppliers, eliminate backlogs, and efficiently navigate change events.  FAX AND EMAIL CONVERSION TO EDI Achieve 100% EDI connectivity and finally stop processing paper transactions. +MORE


Inbound and Outbound Communication and Sales Solutions

West Corporation

STAND OUT WITH A BETTER BUYING EXPERIENCE You want people to buy (and continue buying) from your business, and we know that nothing inspires brand loyalty more than exceptional customer service. In a consumer-driven market, intelligent containment and communication solutions can help you deliver multi-channel care that lives up to your brand’s reputation throughout the buying process — from promotion and purchase, to loyalty programs and account management, to shipping and satisfaction guarantees. High-touch. High impact. High visibility. Low cost. You’ll empower representatives to deliver high-touch customer service where it matters most, and simplify and speed up interactions across the board. West has decades of experience analyzing the customer journey and data points to build inbound and outbound communication solutions that cater to specific challenges while dramatically reducing the costs of service. We’ll help you innovate, relate, respond and truly connect with the people who keep your business in business. Make your brand available for self-service inquiries about order status, store hours and more — 24/7, even during peak sales seasons Streamline customer identification and authentication, and improve first-contact resolution Save on inbound care costs by delivering well-timed order confirmations, delivery notifications and more  Prepare and deliver scheduled or ad hoc campaigns across customers’ preferred channels Increase sales with personalized promotions, informed by purchase history and demographic trends Mitigate fraud risk by protecting buyers’ personal information, payment data and call recordings Gather and honor any array of customer preferences, from centralized to store-level functions Readily reply to customers on the channels they choose Minimize stress on your IT department, and provide more meaningful information about each transaction Optimize call flows and outbound campaigns using customer data, market trends and voice of the customer Connect with customers more often, more quickly. Increase productivity in your business center. Deliver consistency, convenience and joy. Improve your market perception and reap ROI. +MORE


Headquarter, Retail & Service Merchandising Solutions

Retail Services, Inc.

Are you a Vendor looking to increase distribution of your innovative new product? Are you a Retailer seeking a reliable broker with the experience to bring the right product mix into your expanding business? Whatever your retail needs we have a team of qualified and experienced representatives who will work with you to grow your business and achieve maximum results. +MORE


Scan Based Trading Solutions

The Nexxus Group

Scan Based Trading:  Utilizing Scan Based Trading (SBT) enables vendors of goods and products to maintain ownership of inventory housed within retailers’ stores or warehouses until those items are scanned at point of sale. Benefits of this methodology include reduced invoice discrepancies, improved data management, tighter shrink control, enhanced vendor-retailer relationships, increased sales, lower inventory cost, shorter time to market and greater customer satisfaction. So, how does it work? The Nexxus Group® changes the way retailers buy products to put on their shelves and how they pay for those products. Imagine you walk into a store and decide to purchase an item. Once the clerk scans the product and the laser hits the bar code, the Nexxus magic happens – the retailer pays us and we pay the vendor responsible for product delivery. Retailers pay only when inventory is sold. The simple and efficient paperless process makes Nexxus responsible for coordinating with and reimbursing thousands of local vendors who deliver their products to our clients across North America. Direct Store Delivery SBT: The Nexxus Group® provides more than 90 retailers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico – at more than 50,000 retailer doors – with a turnkey Scan Based Trading solution for many Direct Store Delivery (DSD) and warehouse products. Retailers and vendors of ice cream, salty snacks, novelty items, beverages, propane and DVDs – to name a few – now utilize our SBT solution to increase sales, reduce out-of-stocks, and improve sales data visibility. The flexibility of our program gives global chains, national chains and smaller regional chains the ability to implement the solution across their store base. International conglomerates like Unilever as well as niche suppliers such as FIFO partner with The Nexxus Group to participate in SBT programs with retailers. By working with The Nexxus Group, suppliers avoid the time-consuming process of obtaining vendor numbers, setting up EDI connections, and populating store lists and price books. The ability and interest to sell products via SBT provides willing suppliers a distinct advantage over those in traditional buy/sell arrangements. Implementation of The Nexxus SBT solution often leads to exclusive relationships with retailers. The Nexxus Pub Hub: Nexxus provides more than 90 retailers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, at more than 50,000 retailer doors, with a turnkey Scan Based Trading solution for newspapers, magazines and maps. Nexxus Pub Hub consolidates publication vendors under the Nexxus vendor number and allows retailers to more effectively and efficiently manage the publications category. The Nexxus Pub Hub solution provides significant ROI to retailers by eliminating in-store product check-in, countless weekly payments to vendors and the need for dedicated customer service personnel to respond to publication issues from both stores and suppliers. The Nexxus Pub Hub solution truly does it all. Participating retailers have collectively saved millions of dollars and countless headaches. +MORE


Profitable Solutions at the Shelf

ESM Ferolie

At ESM Ferolie, our commitment to total coverage and meaningful execution is instrumental in crafting client success stories. We consider every retailer and manufacturing partner critical to our mutual success. Whether it’s bringing emerging brands into the marketplace, or the long-standing management of mature brands, we work hard every day to identify opportunities on behalf of our partners. Backed by leading technology and expanded national coverage through BeaconUnited®, we take your brand to the next level. Headquarter Services: Harness the headquarter advantage. Regional expertise from experienced local professionals each with over 20+ years’ experience Strong top-to-top relationships with direct access to senior management Dedicated Department Business Managers in Frozen/Dairy, Confectionery, Meat/Deli/Seafood, Grocery, Produce, GM/HBC and Natural Marketing & Analytics Services: Gain global and local perspective. National account-level syndicated data National ad tracking Tools to analyze and unite multiple data sources Retail Services: Execution through brand building. Passion at national, regional and independent retailers Retail coverage of more than 8,200 stores Continuity-based retail approach Consistent, quantifiable, real-time results National retail reporting system Retail On Demand: Strategy at the shelf. Dedicated resources for retail services Includes resets, point-of-sale placement, new item placement DSD sales support including in-store order placement, merchandising, pack-out and unsaleables management Administrative Support: Effective, focused management. Order management with order editing and full EDI capability Local customer service including contract preparation and deduction resolution Experts in multiple customer- and manufacturer-specific promotional management systems Complete order-to-cash through BeaconUnited +MORE


Business Process Outsourcing

Advantage Solutions

Advantage's Business Process Outsourcing group has provided high-quality turn-key services to a wide range of clients since 2005. All of our services are provided from teams at our US locations, providing our clients with geographical proximity and expedited high-quality services. With offices across the country, our flexible approach positions us to meet all specific service requirements efficiently and cost effectively. We are dedicated to the Order to Cash process, and having these services based entirely in the US helps us deliver the industry knowledge and expertise required to positively impact critical processes related to customer interface and cash flow. EDI Management Order Processing Customer Service Invoice Management Accounts Receivable Reporting Deduction Management Collections Forms Administration Services Data Synchronization Customized Administrative Services Vendor Managed Inventory ​​ +MORE


End-to-End EDI Solution

Acosta Sales & Marketing

While EDI can drive efficiency and lower overall costs for any organization, it is also a time-consuming investment in both technology and staffing. Why not consider outsourcing your EDI needs to Acosta, a proven best-in-class provider of EDI? We can help eliminate technology infrastructure barriers, while removing the cost of expensive software licensing, value-added network (VAN) fees, third-party template charges, and supplemental staffing. Additionally, an experienced provider like Acosta can implement an EDI solution quickly and efficiently, resulting in immediate benefits. Acosta offers a full range of services including order placement, order cleansing, warehouse transactions, advance ship notices, and invoices. We understand there’s no one-size-fits-all solution; that’s why we customize each program based upon individual company needs while adhering to industry defined business processes. +MORE


Business Integration Suite


SEEBURGER offers a comprehensive Business Integration Suite that functions as a central platform and data hub for all business processes with external business partners. This solution supports all communication channels, including EDI, paper, fax or the web. It converts the data into the required formats, controls processes in accordance with configurable rules, interlinks all the major ERP systems and monitors those processes. Additionally, SEEBURGER provides easy-to-follow workflow-based best practices for handling order-to-cash and purchase-to-pay flows for SAP users. For manufacturing companies and energy providers, special monitoring solutions for SAP are provided. The Business Integration Suite can also be used for the secure and traceable transfer of all types of unstructured, sensitive data, taking into account both internal company policies and IT compliance requirements.  With an integrated approach that includes designing, consulting and implementing effective software solutions, our customers can very quickly achieve full business process automation for all their business partners, large or small. We also offer a comprehensive range of pre-existing content – consisting of master data on business partners and their business processes (message mapping), all lending to a fast and efficient roll-out.   This allows our customers to take advantage of cost savings by eliminating manual processing steps, ensuring error-free data and processes, and making processes faster, more transparent and easy to understand.  +MORE