SALISBURY, N.C. -- Food Lion here is one of two major chains participating in Rapid Response, a program designed to reduce distribution costs for frozen food by allowing retailers to place orders simultaneously with a manufacturer and a third-party distribution center.
The program was developed by United Refrigerated Services, a warehouser based in Atlanta.
Andy Schuyler, vice president of sales for United, confirmed Food Lion's participation in Rapid Response, but declined to name the other major chain. He added that the program has been available for about eight months. Officials at Food Lion declined to comment on the program.
"We're working with everybody, both the manufacturers and the retailers, to try and squeeze time out of the order delivery cycle, reduce the amounts of inventory, and get products from the manufacturer to the retailer on a more expeditious basis," Schuyler said.
As retailers send their purchase orders to a manufacturer or broker, they also send a duplicate to United, Schuyler said. "We can then start processing that order and bypassing the time involved in administrative gobbledygook that goes on at either the broker level or the manufacturer level, as well as going through the credit check and what-not. We may be able to eliminate two or three days worth of time here."
Schuyler said retailers are "driving this right now."
Food Lion, for example, has gone to its less-than-truckload, or LTL, suppliers who are not part of United or using United warehouse services "and encouraged them to use our distribution centers to enable them to participate in pooling programs to the retail distribution centers," he explained.
"With the Food Lion organization, we were the largest single source of frozen food to all of their distribution centers as a result of the [supplier] customer base we have here," Schuyler said.
The benefit to the retailer, Schuyler said, is having a single-source supply of LTL product. "He can order up to five times a week, smaller orders, so he can manage his cash flow a heck of a lot better. "He's generally got the product sold and out the door before it's even invoiced. It certainly reduces LTL traffic in his yard and he doesn't need to have virtually any safety stock in his yard anymore."