SALISBURY, N.C. -- Food Lion here is testing data synchronization via UCCnet with five manufacturers, following a successful implementation with Nestle Purina PetCare, putting the chain at the leading edge of UCCnet implementation.
According to Carolyn Hager, the chain's manager, e-business, the five manufacturers are Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Kraft, Campbell Soup and Kellogg. Food Lion's goal is "to be in sync electronically with all of our suppliers, including smaller trading partners," she said.
At the end of July, Food Lion went into full implementation on data synchronization with Nestle Purina PetCare, St. Louis, said Hager. Food Lion is receiving information from Nestle on new products, changes and deletions, including information on such product attributes as case weight, volume and dimensions, said Hager. "We're getting the basic item information necessary to identify products uniquely."
She reported that the synchronization process with Nestle has been "fine -- no problem." While she could provide no return-on-investment figures, Hager said that "we do see a reduction in payment disputes, as well as a reduction in errors in invoices, receiving and purchase order creation" as a result of the data synchronization.
Jennifer Roberts, UCCnet's public relations manager, said that Food Lion is now among the top-five food distributors in terms of "production status." UCCnet currently has more than 100 trading partner relationships in production, with a total of 243 subscribers in all, including distributors and manufacturers, said Roberts.
Food Lion is employing IBM's WebSphere Business Integration for Retail Distribution system as a means of connecting to UCCnet and UCCnet's Globalregistry and also providing workflow capabilities to relevant executives at the chain. "We wanted to pass information from one person to another like paper," said Hager. "That was a bigger challenge than just bringing in and interpreting the data," which the system also does.
Food Lion, which has been a UCCnet member for three years, has spent much of that time helping the organization, based in Lawrenceville, N.J., design its synchronization process. That process can put retailers and manufacturers "on the same page" with respect to item data -- and eventually other data -- so that they don't disagree about invoices and other documents.
Hager said that UCCnet needs to expand its synchronization service beyond item information to include areas like pricing and promotions, and she believes that will come. "We don't expect UCCnet to contain the [additional] data, just pass it through," she said.
Hager acknowledged that the advent of B2B trading exchanges confused UCCnet's role regarding data synchronization, but she added that the exchanges "are cooperating to clear up some of that confusion."