POMPANO BEACH, Fla. -- Pueblo Supermarkets here will launch a category management program by 1997, and is exploring a series of new initiatives including computer-assisted ordering.
"Our number one project will be category management," said Larry Elias, senior vice president of management information services. Pueblo also plans to increase use of electronic data interchange to enhance the program's success.
As its first step, the retailer assembled a cross-functional planning team to recommend the operational changes and technology investments needed.
"In the last five months we have put together a team from purchasing, logistics, accounting and MIS departments to investigate and implement category management," he said.
Once the investments and reorganizations have been made, Pueblo can proceed with further initiatives like computer-assisted ordering.
"We have [CAO] in our plans for 1997," Elias said. "We first have to look at upgrading the networks in our stores and installing inventory control systems at the store level."
Pueblo characterizes its category management approach as a shift from traditional merchandising and replenishment strategy based on manufacturer deals toward one based primarily on consumer buying habits.
"We're going to be looking at products differently," he said. "We're going to be positioning the company to focus on the customer -- how they perceive us today and how we would like them to perceive us tomorrow."
One piece of the puzzle -- scanning data analysis -- is already in place. "One of the preliminaries to category management was for us to have scanning data from all our stores every week," Elias added.
The retailer may increase how often stores send scan data to the corporate office as its category management program develops.
Pueblo is currently evaluating a number of specialized category management software packages and also plans an eventual upgrade of processors at both the corporate and store level.
Category management "will be a client/server application so it is going to need both software and hardware investments," he said. "The first phase is going to be at the headquarters [level]."
Pueblo also plans to step up its use of electronic data interchange. "We're doing EDI for purchase orders with our major private label supplier, and we plan to start doing invoices in the next four to six months," he added.