The society already gives key suppliers access to the systems that it uses to replenish its depots, with 22 suppliers now working on collaboratively managed inventory projects, said head of supply chain and trading Susan Fernley.
However, suppliers needed end-to-end visibility and more information about what was happening at store level.
The portal, which will be developed as part of a complete systems overhaul at the society (The Grocer, Dec 13, p8), would be an interactive tool, stressed Fernley. “This is not just about slapping loads of EPoS data on the net. In future, we want the EPoS data to drive the depot order - for suppliers to take responsibility for store as well as depot replenishment, because everything will be driven by one forecast.”
The portal, which was planned to be up and running by about 2007, was just a small part of a massive systems overhaul, which would involve ripping out existing warehouse management and transport management systems, rolling out new EPoS systems and upgrading the depot network, said Fernley.
“Our existing systems are at capacity. We have a cumbersome distribution network and it will soon be incapable of servicing our store network. We want to remain at the cutting edge of supply chain collaboration.”