Delivering for the Omnichannel Customer with Agility and Precision 

Produced by Relex Solutions

Despite unprecedented conditions for the grocery industry, Ahold Delhaize USA companies have continued their industry-leading supply chain transformation to ensure customer needs are met no matter how they choose to shop. Mikko Kärkkäinen, Co-Founder and CEO, RELEX Solutions steered a discussion with ADUSA's executives on how the grocery retail group is leveraging people and technology to deploy agility, flexibility, and precision in its end-to-end supply chain, which supports over 200 retail stores, rapidly growing e-commerce sales, and an expanding network of distribution centers. The presentation covers the different steps taken in the supply chain transformation program, the user's perspective, and the benefits and business impacts of the program. The presenters highlight the importance of self-service for customers and the ability to change configurations when necessary. They also discuss some of the exciting functionalities or characteristics of Relex as a system and a partner. 

Brian Aubertine, the Vice President of Procurement at Ahold Delhaize USA, discussed the company's journey towards integrated self-distribution for omnichannel. The company started this initiative in December 2019, converting some outsourced warehouses into self-distribution to leverage its scale and expertise and achieve operational efficiencies. To enable agile decision-making, the company needed an end-to-end supply chain planning solution that could handle automation, fresh and dry goods, optimize stock, availability, and reduce waste.

He further talked about the innovative ways they have impacted shelf inventory and availability. The company introduced new metrics to track shelf availability and analyze which products will run out of stock, thereby enabling the company to impact shelf inventory. A configurable system allows the company to manage the demands of across its brands (Stop & Shop, Food Lion, Giant Food, The GIANT Company, Hannaford, and Fresh Direct) differently and tailor its strategy to meet the particular needs of each brand. The demand for products was high during the early days of the pandemic, and Ahold Delhaize USA used a demand-shaping aspect to handle the volume. A super user group was also created to help the company configure the system effectively.

Candace Davis, Manager of Demand Systems described the capabilities of the Relex tool, which enables forecasting of consumer demand and applying it across multiple channels, optimizing inventory and ensuring the right products are in the right places at the right time. The tool creates more than 40 million automatic forecasts every day, which run overnight and include driving factors like seasonality, promotions, holidays, and other special events. To manage this workload efficiently, they have created an exception-based process that points the forecast analysts to the areas that need review. Davis notes the tool's end-to-end visibility across the supply chain means they also have visibility to inventory needs and overages in each location, allowing them to make decisions quickly based on changes in demand, such as promotions or product substitutions. During the pandemic, the tool's functionality enabled them to pull massive amounts of data to ensure they got the right product in the right place. Utilizing Relex's Allocation Manager has seen an average availability increase to 1.3%, across the Hannaford stores and 2% across Food Lion stores.

Jason Thomas, Director of Demand Services discussed the benefits of implementing the Relex tool in their supply chain. He mentioned three main benefits: end-to-end visibility of stock levels and demand, insights and information generation, and collaboration among teams. The Relex tool has provided them with flexibility and the ability to manage their inventory efficiently, allowing them to reposition inventory for better customer satisfaction, leaner processes, waste mitigation, better cash flow, and sustainability goals. Ahold's teams have been able to collaborate better by using the Relex tool's reporting feature as a starting point to make decisions that benefit their respective departments. The Relex tool has also helped Ahold reduce emissions and improve their sustainability goals by taking trucks off the road.

FEB 2023