SALISBURY, N.C. -- Food Lion here has signed an agreement with a data provider to implement a Web-based information service for consumer product goods.
Food Lion officials told SN they expect to start implementing the system this month and have it fully operational by the beginning of next year.
The subscription service is called CPGNetwork.com and is provided by Information Resources Inc., Chicago.
"Basically, it provides data directly to the category manager's desk from the Web site almost immediately," said Mike Tashke, director of store merchandising, Food Lion.
Food Lion is a division of Delhaize America, Chantilly, Va.
Tashke said the new system will be an improvement over having to rely on information from the manufacturer, and over making specific requests for information from IRI.
CGPNetwork.com provides customized information to the retailer as part of the subscription service.
Some of the data can be delivered within 20 minutes. Other information is available in real time.
The significance of a Web-based data delivery solution of this nature for Food Lion, Tashke said, is its effect on reaction time and speed to shelf.
"The difference between making a decision in a month and making a decision in a day is really impactful for us," he explained.
"We'll be able to evaluate promotional activities much more quickly," he said.
Information on whether a product "sold through" or if it is selling at all will become more readily available, he added.
The program allows all the category managers across a chain to have access to the same information at the same speed.
IRI works with retailers to custom-build the retailers' company sites to meet their individual requirements.
A team from CPGNetwork will work with Food Lion in setting up the installation.
The service allows all the category managers to make more informed decisions more quickly, officials said.
Moreover, across the chain, the initial goal of the new program is to get everybody using information to make decisions, and to get them all to insert that information into the daily business process.
Part of the strength of the system is that it's designed for easy use. The program is no more difficult than a typical Web browser for category managers or store executives to use.
The effect of this is a democratization of information because everyone has easy access to the same information at the same rate. It removes barriers that might have existed before for some employees, officials said.
To access the data available on CPGNetwork, a category manager or executive needs only a Web browser.
IRI maintains and hosts the retailer's site, which allows them to fine-tune the structure of the site as time goes on. If IRI notices that a particular report is never being used by any of the category managers, it knows that either the content or the training needs attention.
IRI is able to monitor usage of the technology very closely, down to who is getting in, how often and what reports they are accessing. This monitoring allows them to refine the content that is reaching individual clients to suit their individual needs.
IRI's Web-based data delivery system has been in place for four years. CPGNetwork was added to the service approximately two years ago.
Tashke declined to say what the cost of the system was or what the projected return on investment would be.
IRI also declined to comment on the specific costs of CPGNetwork, saying it varies from client to client depending on how they set up their specific services.