Case Study

Pricing And Efficiency — Key To This Grocer's Bottom Line

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By Bob Johns

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Consistent pricing is key to customer satisfaction and sales, and controlling this efficiently can be a real challenge for grocers like Geissler’s, who stock thousands of SKUs.

Grocery is one of the most competitive markets in retail. When you are an independent grocer, that competition can be brutal. That’s why it is so important to stay on top of technology to create efficiencies and give better visibility into the business. This is something with which Robert Lee, IT manager with Geissler’s Supermarket, is charged.

Lee came to the seven-location, regional supermarket chain in 2012, and one of his first main projects was to find a solution to help streamline pricing and help control direct store delivery (DSD) of product. The legacy software did not have this capability, and it was time for an upgrade. The current system could not handle the thousands of SKUs and multiple deliveries each store needed to deal with.

Lee, along with Geissler’s owners and buyers, searched for several months before going with Common Thread Software’s (CTS) SmartGrocer software solution and the Honeywell  Dolphin 99GX wireless handheld from Connie Driscoll Associates (CDA). “The SmartGrocer software is specifically designed for grocery, which is a bit of a different animal than standard retail,” Lee says. “And the Dolphin has the scanning and wireless capabilities I need to keep managers and associates free to work on the floor.”

CTS partner, Al Brody, comments, “Smart Grocer is specifically designed to work within grocery, whether it is to track known loss from produce and meat disposal, or DSD from Coke or Frito-Lay.” The software resides on both the back-end server and the Honeywell device, making the data available to authorized personnel anywhere, any time.

On the floor, managers and associates are able to write orders, receive DSD, create and edit pricing batches, and edit product data. Connie Driscoll, president and CEO of CDA, notes that the Dolphin handheld is simple to use for personnel. “Training is usually very minimal, one week in this case. The hardware seamlessly integrates with the software, and the user interface is logical and simple to follow. With associates and managers so familiar with mobile devices in their personal lives, using the Honeywell device is a simple transition,” she says.

Some of the true benefits of the solutions for Lee have been the ability to see pricing at all stores at once, control pricing, receive DSD, view consolidated reporting, see item movement, and move to a wireless network. “With the DSD receiving implementation, we are able to catch vendor errors on costs and quantities right at time of delivery,” say Lee. “This gives us better information and data flow all the way to the front end. It has allowed us to implement safeguards against these types of errors, which translate directly to the bottom line. When you are able to load information at the front of the process you reap the rewards of efficiency all of the way to the scanning at the front end, where the DSD item prices will match precisely and inventory levels will be correct.”

On the pricing side associates are able to verify prices on shelf tags will match prices at the checkout. They are able to verify all advertised pricing has been updated and can run Item inquiries showing item status, pricing, promotional activity, and movement. “This has been a big time saver for managers and a convenience for our customers. No one wants to do price checks when a customer is at the register and seeing a different price than what the shelf tag says,” Lee notes. “That is a customer service issue.”

Managing pricing with SmartGrocer has been an easy transition for Geissler’s. Associates can populate price batches by item search, group, vendor, or category. They can work on multiple items and groups at once, instead of being restricted to item-by-item jobs. Managers are able to keep themselves and their associates out on the floor during all of these operations, making them available to service the customers, which is where they are most valuable.