OMAHA, Neb. -- In an effort to improve category, promotion and price management, U-Save Foods here is in the process of installing an enterprise-wide product database. In related projects, the 14-store chain is moving to the Linux operating system and will upgrade its point-of-sale technology to a more open platform.
"We believe that with the new [product database], U-Save will be able to streamline its operation and more effectively merchandise its stores," said Jim Carpenter, director of management information systems. "This should help us better meet the needs of our customers and increase profitability."
The retailer has completed several steps involved in the installation of the enterprise product database and expects to have the system operational early next year.
The goal is to provide a single repository for all pricing and product information, Carpenter said. With a centralized database management system from Sirius Retail, also here, U-Save will be better able to track the performance of categories and promotions and do "what-if" calculations to analyze the impact of a price change or promotion, Carpenter noted.
"This centralized hosting system allows quick and easy category management reviews," he said. "It provides pricing support and price modeling. We can also examine competitive pricing and pull all info from a store's front end. We can pull movement on a daily basis. We will be making critical info available to the decision-makers. To be competitive, you can't use old data to make decisions."
The product database will be integrated with data from the company's wholesaler, Supervalu, Minneapolis, as well as those vendors providing direct store delivery. As the manufacturers change product prices and other information, the retailer's internal database is updated, reducing the chance of using outdated information.
In conjunction with the database management system, which interacts with the point-of-sale system, U-Save is upgrading its POS to provide a more open architecture. The retailer expects to begin installing a new POS system from IBM, Armonk, N.Y., in January.
In addition to being developed with a more open architecture, he said the new POS is object-oriented, enabling faster development of customized graphical user interfaces. He said this would enable the retailer to display electronic marketing messages to customers at the point of sale.
U-Save is also rolling out the Linux operating system to all of its stores. Linux, which has similarities to the Unix operating system, is gaining in popularity because it is a low-cost alternative and has gained a reputation as a very efficient and fast-performing system. "We're finding that it is a very stable operating environment, and that is critical for a front-end application," Carpenter said.