BETHEL, Conn. — Caraluzzi’s, a three-store independent here, is leveraging an online application called Merlin — part of the SCORE portal created by its wholesaler Bozzuto’s, Cheshire, Conn. — to track orders and deliveries.
“It gives us instant, live information on [Bozzuto’s] out-of-stocks,” said Steve Caraluzzi, a co-owner of the retailer. “As soon as an order is placed for each department, we know whether or not we’ll get our full load and whether substitute items are available.”
The system allows Caraluzzi’s to observe the status of an order as it’s being selected. “If Bounty six-pack is out of stock, you can click on an icon and it gives you the code for an eight-pack. It also tells you when the six-pack will be back in stock.”
Caraluzzi’s, which receives deliveries from Bozzuto’s between 2:30 a.m. and 4 a.m., also uses the system to check on the whereabouts of a late delivery and “reallocate staff onto another project until the truck comes so time isn’t wasted,” Caraluzzi said.
Before Merlin, Caraluzzi’s was at the mercy of voice mail. “You might have to make seven or eight calls a day because a guy starts early and goes home and you’re playing phone tag forever,” said Caraluzzi. The Merlin system has had “a tremendous impact” on the efficiency of Caraluzzi’s logistics, accounting and merchandising operations, he said.
Other ways Caraluzzi employs Merlin include tracking credits due from Bozzuto’s; assessing wholesale purchases on a quarterly or annual basis; and evaluating whether his buyers are making buys from Bozzuto’s “at the right times within sales windows,” he said. Caraluzzi and his cousin and co-owner Mark Caraluzzi can use the iPhone application of Merlin to check one of their stores while in another.
Currently, 497 retail customers of Bozzuto’s are active in Merlin and a shelf-management portal application called VICI, about half of all registered in the system, according to John Keeley, Bozzuto’s vice president of business information technologies.