McLane Lends a Handheld

Testing system for independent c-store retailers; upgrades ordering technology

TEMPLE, Texas -- The McLane Co., a leading supply-chain services company, has announced early testing for a "smart handheld" system tailored for use by independent grocery and convenience store retailers. This in-store ordering solution, called Smart Handheld for Independents (SHHi), gives small chains the same capabilities to manage their physical inventories and order placements that large-chain operations have.

The company is demonstrating this and other technology today at its National Trade Show at the McLane Technology Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

"Independent [image-nocss] retailers have unique challenges. They typically have fewer resources and could benefit greatly by automating everyday tasks. But in general, they don't have the ability to tap industry-leading technology because of cost barriers," said Chris Skelly, vice president of sales for McLane's Western division. "With SHHi, store managers will soon be able to retire their Telxon ordering devices and experience technology that can greatly impact their business with little or no training, and minimal cost."

Based on feedback from single-store and small-chain retailer customers, McLane developed the specifications around the SHHi system to address real-world requirements. SHHi gives users the ability to track order history, create orders and track upcoming distributions, all from a single device.

It also prints four different types of labels (and shelf tags); accesses historical information for individual items; implements system in a single process (system is up and running in days); and integrates with McLane Premium Order Management Suite (see below), which simplifies retailers' tasks such as order procurement, item and category management, inventory turns and manufacturer compliance.

SHHi will be available for customers by early September 2009 after beta testing with a pre-set customer group is complete, McLane said.

The company also announced key upgrades to its Premium Order Management Suite (POMS) for retail grocery chains and c-store operators. POMS simplifies the myriad tasks that retailers face on a daily basis, including order procurement, item and category management, inventory turns and manufacturer compliance. With this upgrade, the automated inventory management capabilities have been enhanced to offer more intuitive Internet-based reports for faster inventory decisions.

"This POMS upgrade takes inventory management automation to the next level, helping our customers to save literally millions of dollars by helping them increase operational efficiencies and mitigate risk," said Brad Kimbrough, McLane's vice president of information systems. "By integrating seamlessly with current procurement, logistics and merchandising services, POMS eliminates the need to wait months for implementation or spend precious dollars hiring consultants."

The POMS offering, a key component of McLane's Technology Services, is comprised of four applications: Customer Managed Inventory, Default Order, Inventory Order Management and Automated Supplier Incentive Manager. They are accessible via the McLane Web Portal on a 24/7 basis.
Customer Managed Inventory: Uses POS sales data and inventory targets set by the customer via an Internet application to place exact product orders. This automated solution has been updated to allow retailers to view charts of up to eight weeks of warehouse movement to make even quicker inventory decisions based on clear, easy-to-read trend analyses. This reduces inventory levels by an average of 8% and eliminates overtime by personnel due to order placement. McLane has also added new security features to control access at the store and corporate levels and data grouping capabilities that enable users to compare product performance across stores. Default Order: Places orders automatically based upon a store's purchase history. This software application eliminates lost sales opportunities from orders not being placed. Default order quantities can be set for a single store, all stores in a division or an entire chain. Inventory Order Management: An online reporting system that helps corporate offices optimize inventory, purchase orders quickly and avoid out-of-stock conditions at individual stores. This application can help retailers reduce category-level overstock by an average of 25% and increase the sale of best-selling products by an average of 15%. Automated Supplier Incentive Manager: Provides grocery retailers with the confidence that each store will meet the compliance rules established by the supplier, ensuring that each store receives valuable incentive dollars. Temple, Texas-based McLane is a $30 billion company providing grocery and foodservice supply chain solutions for thousands of c-stores, mass merchants, drug stores and military locations, as well as thousands of chain restaurants throughout the United States. With 38 automated distribution centers and one of the nation's largest private fleets, the company optimizes the purchase, flow and sale of products from thousands of suppliers to more than 60,000 locations. Every year, McLane delivers over 10 billion pounds of merchandise to satisfied customers in every state and county in the United States. McLane is a wholly owned unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Omaha.