FLEMING EXTRANET OFFERS ACCESS TO SPECIAL DEALS

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Fleming Cos. here is building on its retailer extranet, adding real-time access to special pricing opportunities and providing communication between stores in addition to on-line product information.The free access for retailers is available through the wholesaler's Visionet system.In an effort to bolster the extranet's visibility, Fleming is sponsoring an "e-week" promotion starting

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Fleming Cos. here is building on its retailer extranet, adding real-time access to special pricing opportunities and providing communication between stores in addition to on-line product information.

The free access for retailers is available through the wholesaler's Visionet system.

In an effort to bolster the extranet's visibility, Fleming is sponsoring an "e-week" promotion starting Sept. 13.

"What we hope to gain through e-week is to have everyone who is using the system become more sophisticated in their use," said Leslie Gamble, director of Fleming retail services marketing. Any Fleming-supplied retailer may have access to the system. Vendors pay to be on the system and use it for marketing purposes.

Gamble added that it's a good opportunity for retailers who haven't experienced the system to log on and maybe use it for orders.

For retailers who use the extranet every week, there will be auctions on certain products. Fleming said it is hoping to see more than 1 million cases of product booked electronically during e-week.

In addition to product price information, vendors are able to post bulletins out on products and on the system and can offer special pricing to promote product. Planograms for product placement are also available on the system, Gamble told SN.

Currently about 500 vendors and 2,000 retailers use the extranet, which was launched in 1997, to access product information.

"We are emphasizing as much as we can the need to move to a paperless system," Gamble said about implementing the new technology. "[There are] a lot of marketing ideas on the site," she added.

"[The system] is going to make the paper go down, a lot of [the paper] is redundant," said Phillip Moody, owner of the 35,000-square-foot Shaker IGA Supercenter located in Olmsted Township, Ohio.

"We go in and pull information out of an on-line catalog and download into [our] spreadsheet," said Moody, who started using the extranet last October. "We can print off sections of aisles by category. [Then] we take the information of our movement from the warehouse and their movement and sort their movement. We review our shelf to make sure we have the best selling items," he said.

"It's pretty handy information and it's updated daily," Moody added, noting that the on-line auctions have been particularly well received.

Moody told SN that with the auctions on-line, he doesn't have to sacrifice staff for a half-day or even full day to drive where the auction is being held. The information can be reviewed on-line and the bid can be placed from the store.

"I think it's in its infant stages, but I think what they're going to develop it into will be very valuable for the independent retailers and level the playing field," Moody said.