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The UNFI Brands+ family encompasses more than 5,000 private-label food and nonfood products across 250 categories.

UNFI readies own brands for digital shelf

Salsify, Trace One create product information workflow for $1 billion portfolio

With a rising number of Americans now grocery shopping online, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) has enlisted a pair of digital commerce platforms to ready its thousands of private-label products for the virtual shelf.

Boston-based Salsify said this week that UNFI turned to its commerce experience management technology and to e-collaboration specialist Trace One to create a single, end-to-end product information management (PIM) workflow for its UNFI Brands+ portfolio. The Providence, R.I.-based distributor offers more than 5,000 private-brand food and nonfood items across 250 categories — from conventional value to national brand equivalent and premium USDA Organic — that generate over $1 billion in annual sales. 

To digitize its own-brand offerings, UNFI needed specification data from Trace One to collaborate with manufacturers and ensure product compliance and transparency as well as readiness for artwork production, according to Salsify. That data was then integrated with Salsify's Product Experience Management Platform (ProductXM) so product attributes could be seamlessly sent to customers via multi-channel syndication. Salisfy said the integration covers new item setup and specification changes to products over their lifetimes, allowing digital data to be aligned with physical packaging when updates occurred.

“We want to make sure today’s digital-first consumer has the information they need to make confident food decisions for themselves and their family,” Adam Sinley, director of product development and quality assurance for UNFI Brands+ at UNFI. “Our investment in Trace One and Salsify help us achieve that by assuring data integrity and standardized formatting across our digital channels.”


Amid sharp growth in online grocery shopping, brands have had to step up the volume and quality of product data for retailers to place items on the virtual shelf.

Trace One worked with Salsify and the UNFI Brands+ teams to provide validated data for artwork development and in the structured format required by GS1 Standards and the GDSN. Salsify noted that its dynamic data-import capabilities and Trace One’s glossary-driven solution provided the technical architecture.

“Salsify’s ProductXM platform helps UNFI Brands+ bring together the core elements they need to manage, syndicate and optimize product content across their entire commerce ecosystem, all within one unified platform,” explained Peter Crosby, vice president of corporate marketing at Salsify. “In partnering with Trace One to import approved specification data through standardized integration, we were able to help get new products and product updates to the digital shelf faster.”

Over the past year, online grocery shopping grew by over 54% and now accounts for 12% of total U.S. e-commerce sales and 7.4% of all grocery sales, Salsify reported. That has pushed brands to ramp up the volume and quality of data provided to retailers in placing products on the digital shelf. With the Trace One and Salsify integration, the UNFI Brands+ team cut the time from product development completion to online retail availability, enabling its staff to focus more on creating new products than on data management, Salsify said.

“Trace One's solution reduces exposure to risk while maintaining a highly innovative product development culture,” stated Don Low, solution consultant for Boston-based Trace One. “The consistency between physical packaging and digitally available information beyond the label increases final consumer confidence during the buying process, leading to higher sales volumes.”

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