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12/20/2004
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Software Maker Helps U.S. Retailers Automate Store Planning

European vendor Galleria Retail Technology Solutions is selling its automation and optimization technology to U.S. retailers to help them create the right mix of products and store plans.

Galleria Retail Technology Solutions Ltd., a European provider of automation and optimization technology, is expanding its software and services to the United States to help retailers better-manage customer, sales, and market data and create optimized demand-planning systems.

Many U.S. retailers still rely on legacy systems that require a lot of manpower to maintain and often don't provide instant access to the information that will let them make key business decisions, says Galleria's CEO Ian Duncan-Lewis. Galleria's Demand Intelligence software can help by analyzing large banks of information and lets retailers integrate sales and market data with retail-execution systems such as replenishment, pricing, and promotion. The software also includes a data courier, a publishing engine that automates printing procedures that can be integrated with SAP's ERP suite, and a document portal that allows instant access to information.

Galleria also offers software designed to help retailers better server their customers. Consumers are becoming more demanding and less loyal than ever before, says Duncan-Lewis, and they expect to get the products they want without having to search for them up and down different store aisles. To address customer preferences, Galleria created Advanced Planning Software, which helps retailers prioritize products based on a store's physical, regional, and customer needs. The software includes planning features that create store-specific physical road maps that help determine the best use of store space and product assortment and display. This way, retailers can organize their stores based on customer's purchasing habits. For example, a box of pasta could be shelved in the same aisle as tomato sauce, spices, parmesan cheese, and other items needed to prepare an Italian dinner.

"The retail world has experienced pressure from customers and has seen a shift toward quality. Retailers need to know how to stock the best mix of goods and most effectively utilize store size and shelf space," says Duncan-Lewis. "Such occasion merchandising makes the shopping experience much less frustrating for customers."

One Galleria customer, Safeway UK, which was acquired by Wm Morrison plc in March of this year to create the fourth-largest supermarket chain, was looking for software to help it choose the right variety of products for each store and incorporate thousands of plans it produces into an automated system that would publish them to the individual stores. Safeway's space managers used to manage a multiplicity of plans, which became a problem as the number of stores grew, says Andrew Plews, order-management and systems-development controller at Safeway Morrison's. For example, 400 stores would have 200 product categories, generating 80,000 different plans for space planners to produce and manage manually.

"As the company has grown, one of the difficulties we started to face is that the number of plans we were trying to manage was growing exponentially," Plews says. "We wanted to move away from the hands-on automation in the process but we also wanted to become more store-specific, looking at products based on a store's actual demographic, sales, and the store space."

Safeway began using Galleria's space-planning software two years ago to act as a catalyst between trading, merchandising, and store operations and to generate a targeted assortment of store-specific plans. Additionally, Plews says, by setting parameters against the range of products within the Galleria software, the company has been able to select the right range of products for each individual store, ensuring that the right products are in the right store.

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