Technology has a way of helping companies become something that they otherwise wouldn't be. That's certainly true of the winners of this year's SN Technology Excellence Awards.
Hy-Vee, the winner in the chain category, may not be the equal of Wal-Mart Stores when it comes to supply chain efficiencies. But the West Des Moines, Iowa-based, 252-store chain has developed a consumer-driven replenishment system that has achieved very high store fill-rates while reducing out-of-stocks for major warehouse-supplied categories, helping it to compete with Wal-Mart and any other retail behemoth.
The winner in the independent category, Pro's Ranch Markets, Ontario, Calif., runs only nine Hispanic-themed stores, but they are spread across a wide geographic area in the Southwest. Yet thanks to its implementation of centralized IT systems, a collaborative Web portal and a GPS truck monitoring system, Pro's can operate as if it ran as many stores as a good-sized chain with widely dispersed outlets.
Unified Grocers, Los Angeles, the winner in the wholesaler category, supports about 1,500 independent stores that don't pretend to run world-class websites. But Unified is now offering them the opportunity to run very robust sites with a host of interactive features thanks to a new partnership with Webstop.
So regardless of one's status in the food retailing industry, prudent investments in technology can help elevate that status and level the playing field, as the following profiles demonstrate.