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    McLane Unveils New IT Solutions for Grocery, C-store Retailers

    The company released a smart handheld system for independents and an upgrade to its premium order management suite.

    TEMPLE, Texas -- McLane, a leading supply chain services company, is in early testing stages for a ‘smart handheld’ system tailored for use by independent grocery and convenience store retailers.

    The 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 used for years, delivered in a simple-to-use, affordable system, the company reported.

    "Independent 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 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. Other key benefits include:

    -- Print four different types of labels (and shelf tags).
    -- Access historical information for individual items.
    -- Implement system in a single process (system is up and running in days).
    -- Integrate with McLane Premium Order Management Suite, which simplifies retailers’ tasks such as order procurement, item and category management, inventory turns and manufacturer compliance.

    The new SHHi system will be demonstrated during McLane’s upcoming National Trade Show at the McLane Technology Conference in San Antonio, May 14, 2009.

    The company also revealed key upgrades to its Premium Order Management Suite (POMS) for retail grocery chains and convenience store operators.

    POMS simplifies the myriad tasks retailers face on a daily basis, including order procurement, item and category management, inventory turns and manufacturer compliance, the company reported. 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 point-of-sale (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 quicker inventory decisions based on trend analysis, reducing inventory levels by an average of 8 percent and eliminating overtime by personnel due to order placement, the company reported. McLane also added new security features to control access at the store and corporate levels, as well as data grouping capabilities to 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, the company reported.

    -- 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 percent and increase the sale of best-selling products by an average of 15 percent, the company stated.

    -- 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, according to McLane.

    POMS will also be demonstrated during McLane’s upcoming National Trade Show.

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