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    TECHNOLOGY: Global retail tech

    September saw a host of international retail technology deployments -- from loyalty programs to streamlined logistics systems.

    Vive la loyalty!

    French retail giant Groupe Carrefour has completed the installation of new loyalty and promotions software to better serve more than 8 million loyalty club members at 217 hypermarket stores in France through 13,000 point-of-sale terminals.

    The system, Retalix Loyalty and Promotions from Ra'anana, Israel-based Retalix, was developed to provide integration between promotion and loyalty functionality throughout all stages of the process, from headquarters to store -- starting with central setup and deployment of marketing campaigns to the execution of promotions and personalized programs at the point of sale, following online access of customer data, and near real-time transmission of store transactions to the retailer's central database.

    All told, Paris-based Groupe Carrefour operates 7,000 stores in 29 countries, and racked up 2005 sales of $95.4 billion.

    Loblaw doubles data capacity

    Toronto-based food retailer Loblaw Cos., Ltd. has doubled the size of its data warehouse and related professional services in an effort move to a more dynamic data environment, add functionality to its enterprise system, integrate all corporate information, and provide business users with more timely and accurate analytics.

    The retailer installed the new system, from Teradata, a division of Dayton, Ohio-based NCR Corp., along with Teradata's Demand Chain Management (DCM) forecasting applications -- which Loblaw deployed in 2004 -- to help extend demand forecasting to cover all of its 1,200 retail locations, optimize order forecasting, and improve store-level product fulfillment.

    "The new technology helps us balance our efforts to improve in-stock positions to better serve our customers with the need to keep inventory costs under control," says Roman Coba, s.v.p. and c.i.o. of Loblaw. "The Teradata data warehouse, combined with the DCM application, will minimize our out-of-stocks while reducing safety stock levels."

    Loblaw is Canada's largest food distributor, with operations across the country and more than 130,000 employees.

    Grocery Gateway delivers

    Online Canadian supermarket Grocery Gateway, operated by Longo Brothers Fruit Market, Inc., has improved its on-time delivery rate by 14 percent with a new Web-based logistics system it recently deployed.

    The Mississauga, Ont.-based retailer said that it's using Chicago-based Cube Route's on-demand logistics management solution to optimize its routes for maximum efficiency and gain visibility into its delivery operations. The system consists of a combination of routing, tracking, planning, and dispatching functionality that allows Grocery Gateway to guarantee on-time deliveries to the door within a specific 90-minute window.

    "Our tight delivery windows and the large, densely populated delivery area we serve made our logistics planning, routing, and tracking an incredible challenge," says Kurt Mann, manager of operations for Grocery Gateway. "With Cube Route, however, we can track our drivers throughout the day and adjust their routes on the fly to ensure we meet our narrow delivery time windows."

    Grocery Gateway's delivery fleets make close to 500 stops per day, serving 15,000 active customers. To ensure that its orders are delivered on time and that it can quickly respond to last-minute customer requests or cancellations as well as unforeseen delays, the grocer needed optimized routes and real-time visibility in its delivery operations.

    Using GPS-enabled mobile phones, Cube Route initiates visibility the moment a Grocery Gateway driver departs for the first stop, and automatically updates the planned route and all of its associated metrics. Drivers simply push two buttons on the phone on completion of deliveries to report back to the head office. GPS pings are also sent from the phone, automatically updating the location, speed, and direction on maps that can be accessed anywhere through a standard Web browser.

    Founded in 1998 and acquired by Longo Brothers Fruit Market in 2004, Grocery Gateway offers more than 7,500 grocery items on its Web site, including fresh meats, produce, and organic products. The retailer has more than 100,000 registered customers throughout the greater Toronto area.

    U.K.'s Somerfield plays matchmaker

    U.K. grocer Somerfield plans to deploy new work force management software to enhance the efficiency of its operations by matching staff schedules to demand across its 1,100-store chain.

    The retailer selected Kronos for Retail, from Chelmsford. Mass.-based Kronos, Inc., to enable an integrated approach to work force management, including budgeting, forecasting, scheduling, and time and attendance. The forecasting and scheduling functions of the system were developed to allow retailers to increase productivity, and improve customer and employee satisfaction.

    "Somerfield required a fully automated work force management solution to support our mission of providing the best possible customer service in the most cost-effective way possible," notes Adrian Peace, Somerfield's head of simplification. "We selected Kronos based on their retail expertise and their track record in product innovation for the retail sector."

    With Kronos for Retail, Somerfield will be able to create employee schedules based on store-specific data, including historical business trends and customer traffic based on Somerfield's labor requirement, in 15-minute intervals. The system will integrate with Somerfield's existing SAP HR and payroll system. It's scheduled to be installed in all retail stores during 2007.

    Bristol-based convenience store and supermarket operator Somerfield has more than 50,000 employees.

    Aussie wholesaler/retailer consolidates core info

    Metcash Trading, an Australian wholesaler and retailer operating in the food and consumer goods categories, is deploying a new technology solution to consolidate its core information systems into a single integrated platform.

    The company is using Retalix Power Enterprise, an enterprise-wide software solution developed by Retalix to provide the wholesale distribution industry with a single synchronized solution for total business management, optimizing all key departments within the organization.

    "Our investment in the Retalix technology will enable us to consolidate our core information systems and provide the agility required to service current and future trading partner demands," explains Bernard Hale, c.i.o. of Silverwater, N.S.W.-based Metcash Trading. "This was a very large, complex, and difficult thing to pull off. To have done so with such success and to have transitioned so seamlessly with our first site is comforting, and instills me with confidence that our rollout going forward will continue to be a great success story for Metcash."

    The implementation of Power Enterprise throughout Metcash's three business units -- Australian Liquor Marketers, IGA Distribution, and Campbells Cash & Carry -- is expected to be completed by mid-2008. Campbells Cash & Carry stores also use the Retalix StoreLine Point of Sale solution.

    In addition to its wholesale operations, Metcash Trading operates more than 110 retail stores.

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