SALT LAKE CITY -- By next January, Ahold USA expects "every one of our manufacturers to do business with us through UCCnet," said Ed Gropp, Ahold's chief information officer, during a panel discussion at the U Connect conference here.
Ahold, Chantilly, Va., has been a user -- and strong proponent -- of UCCnet's data synchronization service. The service, based on a standardized registry of item information, intends to rid trading partners of inaccurate data that cause costly invoice deductions.
"Sign up today," he said to a packed room at U Connect, sponsored by the Uniform Code Council (UCC), Lawrenceville, N.J. "As you leave, write the check; call your office. Because it's going to take six months to figure this out. It's a whole new way of thinking and doing business. But the benefits are there. Sign up for UCCnet today, and be in production by January 2003."
Asked by panel moderator Phil Lempert, the author and columnist, whether Ahold would flatly refuse to do business with a manufacturer that doesn't sign up with UCCnet, Gropp replied, "That would be my choice, but I don't run merchandising."
Ahold is in production with its Bi-Lo division, Greenville, S.C., now for UCCnet, and is "expanding to our other operating companies this summer," Tom Schaumburg, Ahold's vice president, logistics support, said at an earlier U Connect session. The other Ahold companies are Stop & Shop, Quincy, Mass.; Bruno's Supermarkets, Birmingham, Ala.; Giant Food, Landover, Md.; Giant Food Stores, Carlisle, Pa.; and Tops Markets, Williamsville, N.Y.
UCCnet, a division of the UCC, has about 80 participants, eight of them retailers, but the organization, backed by some prominent companies like Ahold, Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble, is urging industry participation and hoping for up to 600 participants by the end of this year.
Gropp said his "best guess" is that "all major U.S. retailers" will make a "commitment to the collaborative process" in the second half of the year.
Gropp shared the podium at U Connect, May 22 to 24, with Stephen David, CIO of Procter & Gamble; Randall Mott, CIO of Dell Computer and former CIO of Wal-Mart; and Bernard Hogan, CIO of the UCC.
Asked by Lempert to estimate the cost to U.S. business of inaccurate information of the type addressed by UCCnet, Gropp said $100 billion, David said $50 billion, and Mott said between $25 and $35 billion.
At the earlier U Connect session, Schaumburg said that Ahold "expects a significant number of [UCCnet] relationships in the second half of this year." He said that Ahold currently has "roughly half a dozen trading partners in production or test, and half a dozen in the on-deck circle," acknowledging that "we have not experienced significant scale to date."
Schaumburg also said that from Ahold's perspective, "implementation has been slower than expected." In particular, he said that the company would like to be "further along with releases other than item." The UCCnet registry has been built on item information, but he said that "the ROI picture improves significantly when we get to other things like promotion, deal and price."