June 3, 2004, 12:00 AM

How a small supplier uses web-based data sharing to boost sales to Wal-Mart

Falcon Rice, which has 40 employees and does about $9 million a year in sales of processed rice to grocers and restaurants, is one of the first suppliers to the retail trade to join UCCnet’s latest version of its Global Registry for trading partners.

Internet Retailer

Anything that speeds up delivering rice to his biggest customers and increases sales is worth the trouble, says Charles Trahan, vice president of sales at family-owned Falcon Rice Mill Inc. That’s why Crowley, La.-based Falcon Rice, which has 40 employees and does about $9 million a year in sales of processed rice to grocers and restaurants, became an early supplier to the retail trade to join UCCnet’s latest version of its Global Registry for trading partners.

For Falcon Rice, the new version was simply a shift in what it has been doing for two years. But those two years of experience in sharing trading data showed the company the value of using a web-based system for smoothing relationships with retailers. The benefits: more accurate data, better customer relations and higher sales, Trahan says. “Our employees used to spend a lot of time correcting data errors,” he says. “Now they spend more time helping to make a sales pitch or do a service call. We’ve been increasing our sales to Wal-Mart, and with accurate data we can make sure we’re selling at the right price.”

In addition, retailers get more accurate data on the number of items delivered in cases and on pallets. “It makes us and the retailers more productive,” Trahan says. A grocery industry study has noted that inaccurate data lead to problems such as wrong prices and missed deliveries, costing the retail industry up to $40 billion a year, or more than 3% of sales.

Falcon Rice uses the web-based Quick-to-Market service from Kodiak Group to communicate with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Supervalu Inc. “We’re a small company, but we like to keep up with technology,” Trahan says. “I see this as the wave of the future.”

Falcon Rice expects to cut the time it takes to get products into retailers’ warehouses to two weeks from six weeks, Trahan adds. Sharing information faster and more accurately, he adds, will also make it easier to pass along price increases.

Falcon Rice employees enter product data for the Global Registry into interactive spreadsheets provided by Kodiak, then load the spreadsheets directly to a Kodiak web page. The spreadsheets are designed with pull-down menus and data fields that help the user organize the input of product information required by the Global Registry, Kodiak says.

Quick-to-Market checks that Falcon Rice’s product data are synchronized with retail customers’ data, then posts the data to the Global Registry.

Larry Chernicoff, president and CEO of Kodiak, says Quick-to-Market has a one-time set-up fee of $500, plus fees based on a supplier’s number of product identifiers, or global trade identification numbers, listed with the Global Registry. The average Kodiak client pays $300-$400 per month in GTIN fees, he adds.

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