Back in Time: Technology Drives the Local Grocery Store

June 13, 2017

In my hometown, one of the best jobs a kid could get in high school was working at the locally-owned grocery store: I’ll call it “Stanley’s,” for grins. Whether you were a checker, a sacker, a stocker, or spinning milkshakes in the store’s diner, you were instantly part of the family when you joined the Stanley’s team – and you got to know all your neighbors by seeing them on a weekly basis.

As a checker during my senior year in high school, I remember vividly the conversations employees had when the store pondered buying scanners to replace the manual cash registers. We were concerned that the speedier technology might lessen the amount of time we could spend chatting with customers, catching up on their personal lives and learning the town gossip.

It’s a far cry from the sophisticated grocery stores of today. I presume that Stanley’s has progressed way beyond manual tills and handwritten time cards. As a matter of fact, technology is driving today’s grocery retail industry in powerful ways – even the small, independent, family-owned, grocery stores sprinkled throughout the country are dealing with technology advancements impacting every facet of their business.

Today’s grocers must contend with factors ranging from data analytics and consumer insights, to online shopping and digital advertising, to personalization and mobile payments. Throw in growing concerns about cyber security and asset protection, supplier diversity and tax reform, and you have a technology checklist worthy of Iron Man.

That’s why SUPERVALU, Inc. – one of the largest grocery retailers in the U.S. – is replacing its mainframe technology infrastructure as part of a strategic relationship with Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS), a leading provider of information availability through managed IT, cloud and recovery services.

Together, the companies will replace SUPERVALU’s legacy mainframe IT environment under a transformation program aimed at reducing costs, improving flexibility, and supporting SUPERVALU’s strengths as a service provider to its network of more than 2,000 grocery stores. This transition is a critical step in the company’s plans to use technology smartly to compete in a demanding and competitive grocery environment.

“Technology has become an essential factor in competing in this market, and our planning with Sungard AS suggests that we can build a more flexible and responsive mainframe infrastructure that drives growth,” says Chad Mead, Chief Technology Officer at SUPERVALU.

SUPERVALU’s new mainframe technology platform will offer cloud, back-up, and other solutions and services to improve operations across the independent retailers it supports. The agreement upgrades the technology available to SUPERVALU without requiring an upfront investment, offering SUPERVALU an opportunity to move many of its workloads into a secure, highly-scalable cloud platform.

“We plan to strengthen operations across our enterprise and add shareholder value by transforming our approach to technology,” Mead continued.

Under the agreement, SUPERVALU will be able to replace fixed-cost, in-house equipment with variable-cost services that SUPERVALU can scale as needed. SUPERVALU can also offer a full suite of Sungard AS cloud and recovery services to its retailers on a “white-label” basis, part of the creativity Sungard AS brought to supporting SUPERVALU’s strategic business direction.

“SUPERVALU recognized that it needed to get out of the business of running data centers so that it could concentrate on building out its new business strategy,” commented Alfred Binford, Executive Vice President, Global Sales and Solutions, Sungard AS.

With transformations like these, SUPERVALU is taking its business in exciting new directions, deepening the relationship it has with its grocery retailer clients by offering value-added services. And with companies like SUPERVALU and Sungard AS at their side, even stores like Stanley’s can spend more time getting to know their customers, while never missing a technical step along the way.

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