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Kroger unveils new enterprise IT architecture called Retail Site Intelligence

BY Michael Johnsen

LAS VEGAS — Kroger on Wednesday partnered with eInfochips and Wincor Nixdorf on a new enterprise IT architecture called Retail Site Intelligence, the companies announced at the International Security Conference and Expo. This architecture for stores of the 21st century uses ZigBee wireless mesh networks to integrate long battery life sensors, hand held devices, point-of-sale devices and video management software into a next generation platform for retail applications such as loss prevention, store automation and analytics. 

"Retail Site Intelligence is, above all, about Customer 1st innovation," stated Chris Hjelm, Kroger SVP and chief information officer. "We are leveraging technology to help customers have the best possible shopping experience in retail stores, whether by more easily finding the products they want or saving time at checkout," he said. "We expect Retail Site Intelligence to be the cornerstone of the technology infrastructure for Kroger stores in the future."

The introduction of the RSI architecture, and the deployment of new retail business solutions by Kroger, culminates two years of global collaboration between Kroger and eInfochips to develop the underlying technology products for Stores of the 21st century. The results of this phase of development are new wireless devices (cameras, scanners and scales) featuring ZigBee wireless technology, and Vigil360, a new video management software kernel designed specifically for RSI.

Commercial versions of the RSI solutions being piloted by Kroger will be available later in 2014 with support and customization services delivered globally.

Representatives from eInfochips, Kroger and Wincor Nixdorf will be demonstrating RSI products and applications including a new handheld bar-code scanner used by shoppers, and a loss prevention application using the world’s first video camera which serves as both a video camera and a ZigBee Access Point. The new camera is easily integrated into a store’s IP network for better camera network scalability and support.

"Most IT products are developed by design teams insulated from the user and application," suggested Frank Berry, founder and senior analyst, IT Brand Pulse. "Kroger’s hands-on involvement in the development process has yielded products that are innovative and tailor made for digitized store environments."

Parag Mehta, the chief marketing officer at eInfochips added, "Our collaboration with Kroger to develop products for their Retail Site Intelligence Initiative embodies the trend of businesses partnering with technology companies to develop intellectual property for a sustainable competitive edge. The results of the Retail Site Intelligence project demonstrate why this trend is gaining momentum."

 

 

 

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Family Dollar adds more food options, reduces prices

BY Mike Troy

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In a move to increase traffic and grow sales, Family Dollar said it added 400 products to its food offerings and reduced prices on 1,000 other items.

As part of the rollout, the operator of more than 8,100 stores enlisted the aid of television personality, author and chef Pat Neely. Plans call for Neely to participate in several special events including a recipe contest in which the challenge is to prepare a meal for four for under $15. The contest winner will receive a cooking experience with Neely at his home in Memphis.

“At Family Dollar, our focus is solely on our customer. It’s important for us to constantly evaluate our assortment, making sure that we have the products and national brands that are relevant to her and her family, always at a great everyday value,” said Jason Reiser, Family Dollar’s chief merchandising officer. “I am excited to add these new food items to our already robust assortment, and I am confident that our customers will be impressed by the expanded selection we have to offer.”

According to Neely, Family Dollar stores have everything shoppers need to make delicious dishes at everyday low prices whether the occasion is a quick weeknight meal, fun lunch or family reunion.

“Pat brings a down-to-earth style and flair that resonates with Family Dollar and our customers,” Reiser said. “We are excited to welcome Pat to the Family Dollar family. He’s a great ambassador for us as we expand our food assortment.”

 

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Kroger SVP Robert ‘Pete’ Williams to retire

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Tuesday announced that SVP Robert "Pete" Williams plans to retire in May after 37 years with the company.  

"Throughout his extraordinary career, Pete’s leadership has reflected his passion for our associates, customers and local communities. He has been a tremendous asset to our company and will be missed," stated Mike Ellis, Kroger’s president and COO. "Whether developing associates and fostering career paths for many people within the company, or influencing Kroger to improve the customer experience, Pete led with a contagious enthusiasm and steady presence. We thank Pete for his many years of dedicated service and wish him and his wife, Jennifer, the very best in retirement."

Williams has served in his current role since 2007. Today, he leads seven supermarket divisions. His replacement will be named at a later date.

Upon graduating from the University of Mississippi, Williams began his Kroger career in 1977 as a management trainee in Memphis, Tenn. with the company’s Delta division. Beginning in 1978 he held a variety of human resources leadership roles, working his way up to serve as director of labor relations at the company’s general office in 1987. He moved back to Atlanta three years later, where he spent the next several years serving as VP operations and VP merchandising, before being promoted to president of Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic division in 1998. 

 

 

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