SAFEWAY JOINS UCCNET, VIA WWRE

PLEASANTON, Calif. -- Safeway here last week became the latest food distributor to subscribe to UCCnet, the provider of a global registry used to facilitate data synchronization between retailers and their suppliers.By signing up with UCCnet, a division of the Uniform Code Council, Lawrenceville, N.J., Safeway became the 23rd retailer/distributor to join UCCnet's ranks, following four other major

PLEASANTON, Calif. -- Safeway here last week became the latest food distributor to subscribe to UCCnet, the provider of a global registry used to facilitate data synchronization between retailers and their suppliers.

By signing up with UCCnet, a division of the Uniform Code Council, Lawrenceville, N.J., Safeway became the 23rd retailer/distributor to join UCCnet's ranks, following four other major food retailers who joined earlier this year, Kroger (February), Golub (February), Albertsons (March) and Publix Super Markets (May).

Last month, UCCnet declared that its membership had reached more than 760 distributors and manufacturers, with more than 400 companies joining during the first half of this year. Non-grocery segments such as hardlines and general merchandise represent the primary source of UCCnet's growth in 2003.

Safeway's decision to subscribe to UCCnet's global registry service was revealed in an announcement made last week by the WorldWide Retail Exchange, Alexandria, Va., that Safeway has committed to begin participating in WWRE's Interoperability Project, scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

In this project, WWRE will become Safeway's single access point for data synchronization, allowing Safeway to synchronize data with manufacturers as well as receive information from UCCnet, WWRE said. The manufacturers would initially be those who publish directly to WWRE as their source data pool, or repository of item data. Safeway, a founding member of the WWRE, will be among the first participants in the project.

Summer Stitz, spokeswoman for WWRE, told SN that WWRE's announcement last week was "dependent on UCCnet receiving the signed contract from Safeway, so they have joined." Mark Silvey, a spokesman for UCCnet, confirmed that Safeway became a subscriber last week.

Safeway did not respond to a request for comment, but in a prepared statement issued as part of the WWRE announcement, Howard Befort, senior vice president, supply chain, at Safeway, noted, "[Achieving global data synchronization] will bring a new level of efficiency to Safeway, to our trading partners and the entire retail/CPG industry, and will ultimately benefit the consumer."

In addition, David Ching, chief information officer at Safeway, said in the announcement, "The world's leading retailers and manufacturers are reaching consensus and recognizing that the industry is migrating quickly toward a seamless trading environment. The vision we have shared with our fellow founders since the early days of WWRE is coming to fruition."

WWRE noted that Safeway's involvement in the Interoperability Project represented another step "in the industry's progression toward a Global Data Synchronization Network." The GDSN is the model envisioned by international standards organizations, whereby all item data would be seamlessly synchronized among trading partners, using UCCnet as the global registry, or index of product and company information. By becoming interoperable with UCCnet, WWRE can become a single access point for its members to both its own manufacturers' data and UCCnet, as well as to other data pools that achieve interoperability with UCCnet.

Last month, another business-to-business exchange, Transora, Chicago, said it was the first data pool to test global data synchronization "with full UCCnet interoperability."

WWRE originally announced its Interoperability Project in May, naming CVS and Schering Plough as the first two participants. Other WWRE retailers and manufacturers backing the project include Ahold, Albertsons, Eckerd, Food Lion, Walgreens and Wyeth, said WWRE.