KROGER FIRST RETAILER TO TAP TRANSORA FOR DATA SYNC

CINCINNATI -- Kroger here has become the first retailer to select Transora, which typically serves manufacturers, to be its data synchronization provider as well as its recipient data pool, according to Chicago-based Transora.Transora began as a business-to-business exchange for consumer packaged goods manufacturers, but has recently focused entirely on data synchronization services worldwide, enabling

CINCINNATI -- Kroger here has become the first retailer to select Transora, which typically serves manufacturers, to be its data synchronization provider as well as its recipient data pool, according to Chicago-based Transora.

Transora began as a business-to-business exchange for consumer packaged goods manufacturers, but has recently focused entirely on data synchronization services worldwide, enabling trading partners to use the same product information. Other exchanges, like the Worldwide Retail Exchange (WWRE), also provide these services to retailers, as does UCCnet.

Kroger, which has worked with Transora since November 2002 on a synchronization pilot for direct-store-delivery products, will expand that program, while engaging in item synchronization with all suppliers, Transora said.

Kroger will also participate with Transora in the development of an automated new-item introduction process that expands upon what current item synchronization offers, said Ken Fleming, president and chief operating officer for Transora. In addition, Transora will serve as a source data pool for Kroger's private-label items, he said. Kroger declined to comment.

Kroger began subscribing to UCCnet's item registry in February 2003, but its partnership with Transora marks its first major move into data synchronization, said Fleming.

As Kroger's recipient data pool, Transora will maintain a standardized item file synchronized with manufacturer data pools worldwide, explained Fleming. "It provides Kroger with a single point of connection to the global network," he said, adding that Transora is in production with about 120,000 items. "As Kroger pulls international products into its markets, it will have access to them."

Fleming noted that in the DSD pilot Kroger participated in, the retailer was able to get synchronized price and promotion data through Transora, which he described as a "hard" benefit compared with the "soft" benefit of item data alone. Kroger will continue to get DSD price and promotion data, while Transora pursues similar data for warehouse-delivered goods, he articulated.

Fleming acknowledged that promotional pricing information for specific retailers and stores has not yet been standardized through UCCnet, but said that Transora has developed the network security measures to enable synchronization of this data between trading partners. This synchronization prevents on-invoice discounting or disputes over pricing, he said.

In developing a new-item introduction process with Kroger, Transora plans to go beyond the information already provided by standard item synchronization. Like promotional data, the additional new-item data will vary by retailer, Fleming explained, adding that it will also require security measures to ensure confidentiality. "It will help Kroger determine its readiness to receive new products into its system," he said.

Fleming said Transora would be announcing additional retailer customers in the near future for what it calls the Transora Data Synchronization Network for Retail, introduced this month. He said the cost of the program varies by applications used, ranging between $100,000 and $400,000.