WEST BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Officials from Shaw's Supermarkets here said they will begin using a Web-based subscription service next month that will help manage transportation of inbound produce, reduce costs and cut down on "short" orders.
Mike Griswold, strategic process leader, supply chain, Shaw's, told SN the new service, provided by Elogex, Charlotte, N.C., is also expected to streamline the entire inbound produce operation and provide the capability of tracking orders in real time.
With the new system, Shaw's will provide Elogex with electronic purchase orders for its inbound produce orders.
In turn, Elogex will carry out the logistics of obtaining a transportation provider or carrier.
However, unlike in the past, the operation will now be entirely digital, carried out on the Web.
Once the inbound loads are tendered, Shaw's dispatchers will have full visibility of the status of the loads. They will be able to track the orders using the Web, an Internet-enabled mobile phone or a personal digital assistant.
"We are going to start with a small area of business [inbound produce] and see how we can grow it from there," Griswold said.
"We are looking to them [Elogex] as potentially providing this logistic support for all inbound perishables."
Griswold said one of the factors that attracted Shaw's to Elogex is it is an application that didn't require Shaw's to buy new computer hardware or software.
"We pay for the subscription to use it," Griswold said. "The carriers pay as well. Then, there are transaction fees."
Shaw's officials declined to reveal the financial details of the service.
Currently, Griswold said Shaw's uses what he called a "manual" system for its inbound produce transportation. Under this system, Shaw's has been relying on "paper, phone and fax" to communicate with carriers, he said.
"We wanted to get more efficient with this operation," Griswold said.
Griswold said the entire process will be simplified with much less paperwork involved.
Additionally, Shaw's will only be responsible for paying for the amount of goods that shows up at its distribution center.
Under the old, manual system, carriers would often show up at the DC with only partial loads or damaged goods.
Shaw's would be responsible for paying for the entire load ordered and then would be left to negotiate the discrepancy with the supplier.
Orders will be checked in and confirmed when loaded, a process that should alleviate any potential short loads.
Shaw's spokesman Bernie Rogan said the new system should go a long way in preventing carriers from tampering with cargo en route to its destinations.
In the past, some dishonest carriers would unscrupulously sell portions of their cargo along the transportation route and not take responsibility for the shortage.
"This new system seems to be a deterrent to chicanery," Rogan said. "There is a continuous flow of information and no room for stopping off at the diner and selling a load."
Rogan said that with online tracking capabilities, Shaw's officials will have visibility into what the exact load was when the carrier began the trip.
Moreover, another advantage to the new system is what Griswold calls "load-back" capabilities.
According to Griswold, Elogex will be attempting to coordinate a back-hauling system, whereby once carriers drop off a load of inbound product to Shaw's, it will be picking up another order from a supplier and transporting it back, thus lowering Shaw's inbound cost.