In discussing Safeway's recent financial success, Steve Burd, its chairman, president and chief executive officer, speaks about the chain's adoption of a “lifestyle” format, its development of proprietary lines of natural and organic products and a premium line of perishables, among other initiatives. He rarely alludes to what role, if any, technology has played in the chain's turnaround. Yet technology — especially the use of customer data — appears to be a key ingredient in Safeway's ...

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