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Kroger Co. to implement Oracle’s PLM solution

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — The Kroger Co. has selected Oracle’s Agile Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) for Process to establish a platform for continually improving the customer experience. The supermarket operator will use the solution to integrate and streamline all aspects of product development, including managing specifications, suppliers, formulations, packaging and labeling, compliance, and quality.

Oracle’s Agile PLM is designed to help companies to shorten cycle times, increase sales and reduce risks associated with innovating new products. Kroger is implementing the solution as part of its “Customer 1” strategic initiative mission by which the company is transforming business operations to improve the customer experience and deliver the highest quality products and services.

“At Kroger we are continuously searching for ways to better serve our customers and believe that Oracle’s Agile PLM for Process will enable our organization to deliver even more on our Customer 1st mission,” said Payton Pruett, VP corporate food technology for Kroger.

Kroger selected the Oracle solution based on deep functionality for grocery operations, including the ability to support all of the different types of food and non-food products offered within their stores. The chain also required a solution provider that offered a complete end-to-end suite of integrated applications and that demonstrated the ability to continue to innovate and enhance grocery solutions.

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Room for online improvement in BTS

BY CSA STAFF

Costco isn’t a retailer that comes to mind for most people when it comes to back-to-school shopping, so it was peculiar to see the company’s name atop a list of the best one-stop shopping destinations.

Nothing against Costco, they sell some awesome stuff, but the company can’t be confused with such true one-stop shopping destinations as Target, Walmart or even office supply stores. Costco topped the list due to a flawed survey conducted by STELLAService, a company that provides customer service ratings for online retailers.

For the report, STELLAService evaluated what it determined to be 15 of the Internet’s leading one-stop shops, such as Amazon, Costco, Walmart, Buy.com, and Overstock.com and looked at best practices in the areas of shipping, returns, and payment options. According to the firm, Costco.com offers the most hassle-free shopping features and far outpaces its competitors when it comes to shipping, clocking an average of 1.5 days for shipping, compared with Walmart, QVC.com, and Belk.com whose packages took an average of 5.5 days to arrive. Only four retailers – Costco.com, Amazon, Overstock, and Buy.com – boasted average shipping times of three days or less.

Costco.com also boasts several key features essential for fast and easy back-to-school shopping, including providing an estimated date of delivery once orders are placed, a streamlined return process that does not require shoppers to get a return merchandise authorization number and a wide choice of payment options.

“With shoppers pressed for time and often focused on squeezing the most out of summer before preparing for the new school year, this study should help guide them to the best one-stop shops where they can potentially get all of their shopping done in just one visit,” said Jordy Leiser, co-founder and CEO of STELLAService. “While all of the stores we evaluated offer competitive pricing and wide selection, Costco.com stood out by providing the quickest, easiest, and most convenient shopping experience.”

Costco is a fine retailer, but they don’t offer the breadth of assortment that allows shoppers to satisfy all their needs in a single visit. There was nary a mention of Target except to note a few things viewed as shortcomings.

For example, Target was among a group of six companies – Amazon, Belk, Buy.com, Meijer.com, Target and Walmart – regarded as making the return process difficult for consumers because they require a return merchandise authorization number.

Leiser said, “Permission slips are for field trips, not returns” and encourages retailers to end the practice.

Target also got dinged for not offering such payment choices as Paypal, bill me later, layaway or Google checkout.

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It’s the most social time of the year

BY CSA STAFF

The big relaunch of Target’s digital platform isn’t due until later this fall, but that didn’t deter the company from offering plenty of ways to interact electronically with the brand for back-to-school.

Online, customers can visit the retailer’s Target.com/college hub where they can create personalized shopping lists, find money-saving coupons and one-of-a-kind promotions for even more savings. The company created a new tool called Checklist that helps customers organize and personalize back-to-college list making, which can be printed at home or in a store. But who wants to do that when the tool allows for sharing via Facebook or sending to a mobile device.

And while they are on Facebook, college kids can visit more than 65 college Facebook pages or Target.com/college to participate in a “1,000 Likes” promotion. The event is available every Monday through Friday, Aug. 4-31, and customers can save between 40% and 50% on key items if they are among the first 1,000 guests to “Like” a deal. If so, they receive a mobile coupon for the item to be redeemed at Target.

The digital, list-making trend continues with a program called U Care Cards that allow for college kids to create a digital care package. Beginning in September, students can create their own care package wish list and make their wish list public on their Facebook page or through a personalized email. Friends and family can then make their favorite student’s day by sending a “U Care Card” that the student can use to put towards the purchase of items on their wish list, in stores or online.

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