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UNFI, ECRS Team on More Efficient Ops for Indies

CATAPULT streamlines point-of-sale systems, enables electronic transmissions
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ECRM's CATAPULT solution connects inventory and supply chain, customer loyalty, point of sale, self-service, online ordering, and other key retail operations tech in real time.

United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) and ECRS have formed an agreement allowing existing users of ECRS’ CATAPULT retail automation solution to make the best use of the UNFI Professional Services suite, which ranges from digital coupons and third-party delivery services to more affordable electronic payments. The agreement enables a direct and formal working relationship, particularly in regard to electronic data interchange (EDI) capabilities, and provides ECRS retail automation technology training for UNFI field associates.

UNFI Professional Services’ customizable suite of business solutions aims to help independent grocers increase sales, lower costs and improve the customer experience. The seamless, cost-saving CATAPULT solution connects inventory and supply chain, customer loyalty, point of sale, self-service, online ordering, and other key retail operations tech in real time.

“UNFI retail customers utilize our scale, insights and innovative offerings to deliver a differentiated value proposition, and our agreement with ECRS will help these retailers continue to grow and thrive,” noted UNFI President Chris Testa. “It is imperative in today’s environment that retailers use technology to simplify their business and elevate the shopping experience, giving them more time to focus on their consumers. This is another example of how our services offering and key business partnerships are making a difference for our customers and helping them compete in today’s challenging marketplace.”

With ECRS’ subscription-based supply chain software, ECRS Gateway, and UNFI’s Data Exchange program, UNFI retail customers can automate supply chain processes and streamline the ordering experience. CATAPULT users can electronically submit a range of documents, among them purchase orders, and receive invoices, promotional files and catalog data.

“UNFI provides a great deal of technological services at a scale that can give our mutual retail customers tremendous leverage in the marketplace,” said Pete Catoe, founder and CEO of Boone, N.C.-based ECRS, a Certified Evergreen retail transaction solutions provider. “This agreement allows ECRS to play an active role in ensuring our UNFI customers can take full advantage of these competitive differentiators. ECRS has been working closely with UNFI for over two decades, and we are very appreciative of the organization and its people.” 

ECRS Gateway currently hosts more than 2,000 EDI accounts throughout UNFI’s retail customer network. Using ECRS Gateway, these retailer accounts are expected to process 500,000-plus electronic transmissions in 2023, in the form of purchasing and receiving documents to and from UNFI. Not only are these orders automatically transmitted to UNFI, but many are also created automatically via CATAPULT’s advanced scheduling and computer-assisted replenishment models, reducing the need for manual entry and putting products on the floor faster.

Providence, R.I.-based UNFI delivers a wide variety of products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. The largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, the company is No. 49 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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