LOWE'S TAPS HOSTED ITEM SYSTEM

LITTLEFIELD, Texas -- Lowe's Food Stores here plans to become one of the first wholesaler-supported independents to go live with an item management system hosted via the Internet by a third-party provider.Lowe's, which operates 65 stores in Texas and New Mexico, will begin using the item hosting system for warehouse and DSD items by mid- to late-October, said David Fuller, vice president, Cash Register

LITTLEFIELD, Texas -- Lowe's Food Stores here plans to become one of the first wholesaler-supported independents to go live with an item management system hosted via the Internet by a third-party provider.

Lowe's, which operates 65 stores in Texas and New Mexico, will begin using the item hosting system for warehouse and DSD items by mid- to late-October, said David Fuller, vice president, Cash Register Services (CRS), Lubbock Texas. CRS is working with Lowe's on the project.

The system, called Connected Item Hosting (CIH), is hosted on a monthly subscription basis by StoreNext Retail Technologies, Plano, Texas. It manages the chain's item file, including item attributes, pricing and promotions, as well as supplier management and competitive price management. It supports industry initiatives like the 14-digit bar code (GTIN).

Lowe's, which is also implementing StoreNext's hosted Direct Store Delivery application, already uses StoreNext's hosted Electronic Journal and Store Analytics and Reporting applications, as well as its ISS45 POS application.

Because StoreNext hosts the item management system and sends item changes out to stores, "we have no hardware except for thin-client connections to the Web," explained Rory Glidewell, information systems director, Lowe's. "There's no back-up or maintenance. For a retailer our size, this will be more cost-effective." Glidewell said in a statement that the CIH and DSD applications cost about 50% less than similar systems.

Glidewell expressed satisfaction with the hosted electronic journal and reporting applications that Lowe's has used for about a year via StoreNext. "Any transactions at a store are visible to us online," he stated.

Glidewell anticipates that other independents that, like Lowe's, use wholesaler Affiliated Foods, Amarillo, Texas, will share similar DSD item data through CIH, simplifying the item management process for DSD products. The hosted capability, he noted, gives small independents an item management system that is to equal what a 100-store chain could afford.

Lowe's managed its previous item management system, which Glidewell said was not as robust as the new system. For example, the new system manages down to the item level by store, vs. the earlier system, which managed only to the vendor level.