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Tops takes aim at improved in-stocks

Chainwide rollout planned for new inventory management system

Tops Friendly Markets is bolstering its capabilities in inventory control and replenishment.

The Williamsville, N.Y.-based grocer plans to deploy the Itasca Magic computer-generated ordering, inventory optimization and direct-store delivery receiving system at all 159 of its stores in upstate New York, northern Pennsylvania and Vermont.

According to Ron Ferri, executive vice president of operations at Tops, the supermarket chain expects to complete the implementation by early 2020.

With the Itasca Magic solution, Tops said its stores will gain more inventory control and see a better in-stock position, in turn improving service to customers. At the same time, stores will be able to right-size their investment in inventory while limiting shrink.

Ferri said Tops conferred with and visited several Itasca Magic users before deciding to adopt the system.

“Itasca has proven itself capable of managing and automating replenishment in complex business environments,” he explained. “We’ve found that Itasca has the most comprehensive solution to address our current needs and to be the foundation for future endeavors.”

An intuitive solution, Itasca’s Magic follows store operational flow while limiting human intervention in demand forecasting and exception management. The system tracks inventory changes from receiving, front-end sales, inter/intra store transfers, adjustments and physical inventory counts as they happen and optimizes replenishment with sophisticated ordering algorithms.

“The system will generate store orders in under two seconds and utilize data to generate orders,” Ferri said. “In addition, the solution will assist in optimizing our inventory to ensure on-shelf availability to our customers.”

Ferri also cited Magic’s Perpetual Inventory functionality, which can aid Tops in omnichannel efforts.

“Their real-time Perpetual Inventory capability will allow us to ensure our customers have the same experience online as they do in stores, which is important to any retailer’s digital presence,” he noted.

Going forward, the Perpetual Inventory feature also could give Tops’ online grocery customers more transparency into item availability. “Yes, we do anticipate this functionality in the future,” Ferri said.

According to West Des Moines, Iowa-based Itasca, Magic can help lift sales by reducing out-of-stocks, lower inventory levels and raise inventory turns, improve freshness and decrease shrinkage for perishables, and sharpen efficiency in store shelf-stocking.

“We’re very eager to deliver the same outstanding results to Tops Markets that we have to our other long-time customers,” said Jeff Kennedy, president of Itasca Retail Information Systems.

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