SUPERVALU FIRST TO LAUNCH ONLINE CATEGORY PROGRAM

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Supervalu here will be the first supermarket company to implement ACNielsen's just-launched Internet-based Category Business Planning when it goes online with the information intelligence system today.The program enables category managers to obtain targeted information and analysis at their desktops that they previously had to go to an in-house ACNielsen specialist to obtain,

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Supervalu here will be the first supermarket company to implement ACNielsen's just-launched Internet-based Category Business Planning when it goes online with the information intelligence system today.

The program enables category managers to obtain targeted information and analysis at their desktops that they previously had to go to an in-house ACNielsen specialist to obtain, said Mike Terpkosh, director of category management development at Supervalu. The system also provides the information consistently according to retailer-defined categories as opposed to vendor definitions that can vary widely.

Supervalu is looking forward to gaining productivity from the system, as well as benefiting from the higher-quality information that comes to the user in the form of news headlines. "With category managers having direct access to the data and with the agent technology, we know it is going to provide them with great efficiencies in completing their category-management work," Terpkosh said.

"It puts the data at their fingertips vs. having to rely on other people or other systems that they don't have direct access to now," he said.

"It will allow us to get into a whole new set of metrics. That is going to provide some new opportunities for us that we might not even know about today because we have not had a chance to work with it," he said.

In using the program supplied by the Schaumburg, Ill.-based company, Supervalu and its suppliers will operate in a collaborative environment driven by the retailers' defined competitive trading areas, category definitions and business processes.

Terpkosh would not reveal the cost of the program.

After Supervalu launches, ACNielsen has three other major retailers set to implement the program in the next two quarters, said Lori Tanking, vice president, retail business solutions, ACNielsen.

She would not identify these retailers, but said the company expects to have a total of about a dozen supermarket companies with 25 banners using it by the end of the year.

"For far too long, both sides of the trading desk have had trouble coming together using a common language. We feel Category Business Planner really puts the last piece of the puzzle together. We really feel like we have built something huge here and the prospects are just very large," she said.

Supervalu is launching Category Business Planner without running a pilot, although it did limited testing, and Terpkosh sat on an advisory board that helped create it.

Another retailer tested it for over a year and enabled ACNielsen to improve the navigation and content, Tanking said, again declining to name the company.

Supervalu is affiliated with a total of 5,450 retail food stores, and 1,194 of those are run by the company, a number that includes 727 licensed limited-assortment stores.

"The immediate rollout will be on the wholesale side. Cub Foods (a corporately owned division) will follow in the fall. Then, at that point, we'll look into expanding it into other parts of the organization, such as our regions," Terpkosh said.

The first departments to use the program will be grocery, frozens, dairy, and general merchandise/health and beauty care, he said.

One of the biggest benefits Terpkosh sees is the ability for category managers to access data at their desks.

But of equal importance is an "agent technology" in the software that immediately brings up information relevant to a particular category.

"The category managers can set up predetermined reporting and agents so that when they sign onto the Internet Web site, information comes back to them on an exception report basis. So it moves them away from doing a huge amount of data mining and toward a much more proactive kind of work environment," he said.