AG BR Deploys New Back-end Suite of Apps for Advanced Price Management

Associated Grocers Baton Rouge (AG BR) last week successfully replaced its legacy back-end system with a new suite of applications to deliver advanced price management services to its more than 215 grocery stores.

The Louisiana-based wholesaler is using the Retail BOSS suite of applications from Melville, N.Y.-based BRdata — including complete retail, TPR, and promotional pricing options — which can be accesseed over the Internet. Advanced features include price links, unlimited rounding and pricing rules.

“BRdata allows AG to provide a high-tech price management tool for our retail members without having to reinvent the wheel,” said Steven A. Miller, SVP of strategic planning, projects, and information services at AG BR, which serves stores in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi and which generated about $700 million in sales its last fiscal year. “BRdata has a software package that does everything we need at a very competitive price.”

According to Miller, AG BR’s long-term plan is actually to offer two types of services: the standard package now in production — where retailers can manage and/or customize store pricing at the item or category level of all house items via one common database — and an enhanced package, currently being implemented, where retailers can establish their own separate database and include their DSD items as well.

“The BRdata software lets us create as many different house zones as we want, whenever we want,” he said Miller. “So we can have them tailored to all the different market areas that we serve. BRdata was Johnny-on-the-spot with making some pretty flexible and creative changes in the way their program runs; they have great people and exhibit a real sense of urgency very similar to the culture of our own organization. A wholesaler’s IT environment today is complicated and getting more so all the time; to be able to integrate a new, sophisticated system like BRdata with other systems is truly remarkable. Working with essentially just two people from BRdata, we completed our complete standard rollout to 215 stores in just a four-month timeframe. That’s impressively aggressive.”

The automation that BRdata’s software offers also gives AG BR a streamlined way of servicing its customers that keeps staff involvement to a minimum. “We don’t push buttons or do anything manually,” Miller noted. “Everything gets automatically loaded into the system; retailers then have the option to use or change the recommendations of the BRdata system. Of course, we monitor the system for such things as price links, rounding and printing improvements. But we’ve got one guy basically doing pricing recommendations and training for all 215 stores. That’s pretty efficient.”

Miller added that BRdata’s price optimization module is part of AG BR’s road map for the enhanced package currently being implemented. Having price optimization fully integrated with the back-end system was a key factor in AG BR’s decision to work with BRdata.

“Any time you’re sending data out you lose some control over it,” said Miller. “BRdata will give us the ability to offer price optimization without our having to send data anywhere else, and without our having to charge our members anything additional. A retailer will simply sign on and go into a price-modeling screen to do price optimization based on store movement.”
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