AG SEATTLE CUTS CREDITS WITH DATA MINING TOOL

SEATTLE -- A data mining tool adopted by Associated Grocers-Seattle here has cut invoicing credits requested by its retail members by half as a result of identifying and analyzing delivery problems.The tool, called Pivotlink, recently purchased from SeaTab Software, Bellevue, Wash., has enabled AG Seattle to identify "where in the delivery chain we've had issues so we could provide better service

SEATTLE -- A data mining tool adopted by Associated Grocers-Seattle here has cut invoicing credits requested by its retail members by half as a result of identifying and analyzing delivery problems.

The tool, called Pivotlink, recently purchased from SeaTab Software, Bellevue, Wash., has enabled AG Seattle to identify "where in the delivery chain we've had issues so we could provide better service to our retail customers," Gene Puhrmann, chief information officer for AG Seattle, told SN. The co-op has thereby been able to reduce credit requests, which have been "high," he said.

The delivery issues, said Puhrmann, included goods delivered damaged to stores, mispicks at the distribution center, erroneous purchases by AG, incorrect shipments from suppliers, goods damaged in delivery, and goods delivered to the wrong location. "There are so many points where merchandise is handled," he said.

The system determined "how much of each problem was occurring," Puhrmann said. "Then we could determine why it was occurring and correct it significantly." The reduction in credits has "more than offset the cost of the software," added Puhrmann, who didn't specify the cost.

AG Seattle is also starting to use Pivotlink to do drill-down analysis of sales and sales forecasts by store, commodity and item, and plans to add other functions, said Puhrmann. SeaTab markets its software on an application service provider (ASP) basis, hosting it for its clients, who access the system over the Internet. According to Samuel Koshy, founder and chief operating officer for SeaTab, most data mining software is used in-house, increasing cost and implementation time compared to the ASP model.

In addition to AG Seattle, other SeaTab clients include two other major food wholesalers that serve the Northwest: URM Stores, Spokane, Wash., and Associated Food Stores, Salt Lake City. Puhrmann said URM helped him in his selection of SeaTab, announced last month.

URM Stores has used SeaTab software for category management and business optimization, enabling its internal staff to analyze price, movement and mix, and allowing its supermarket customers to analyze scan data, said SeaTab. URM's sales managers are able to "get what they want from just about any query using Pivotlink, without having a lot of technical knowledge," said Joe Jurich, vice president of technology for URM, in a statement.