McLane Turns the Spotlight on Technology at 2019 National Trade Show
SAN ANTONIO — Convenience distributor McLane Co. Inc. kicked off its 2019 National Trade Show by highlighting the technology advances it has made over the past 10 years, as well as those that its customers can expect to see in the near future.
With the goal of adding value year over year, the Temple, Texas-based company has achieved $376 million in savings through cost avoidance, vendor compliance, technology updates and operational costs, according to Deon Johnson, vice president of applications.
"Our goal is to do whatever we can to save time and money," Johnson said during his presentation at the event's morning Technology Conference on Aug. 21. "We've gone from a warehouse company that does technology to a technology company that does warehousing as an option."
McLane's biggest technology announcement at the show was the unveiling of its new back-office management solution for convenience store retailers, which serves as a one-stop shop for their technology needs. The solution uses the industry-standard language NAXML to share data and communicate with three of the largest point-of-sale hardware providers in the industry: NCR RPOS, Gilbarco Passport and Verifone Ruby2, which comprise approximately 98 percent of the market.
The back-office solution is a major time saver for retailers, who will no longer be hamstrung by mismatched devices that require extra effort and coordination to achieve proper communication.
Other key benefits of the new solution include:
- Centralized pricebook management, including perpetual inventory;
- The ability to set up and manage distributors, stores, groups, retails and costs;
- Fuel setup and management;
- Item mix-match, combos, promotions, bundling and happy hour specials;
- Age verification;
- Category management;
- Back-office data can now be established with retailers directly from McLane instead of from third-party back-of-house companies, which can be difficult to obtain;
- The ability to reduce back-office costs, allowing more money to be spent elsewhere; and
- A monthly lease for the solution, which eliminates the need for costly software upgrades and frees up capital to spend in other parts of the organization.
At the event, McLane also announced the addition of text message notifications to its Delivery Tracker application. Retailers can receive up-to-date delivery information via push notifications sent from the warehouse. Up to five phone numbers per store can register to receive the same notifications. Additionally, each notification includes a phone number that connects the retailer with a McLane representative if they need more information.
While the addition of text notifications may seem like a simple change, McLane expects it to pay off in a big way for retailers, as they can now make more accurate labor decisions, Johnson told Convenience Store News.
The National Trade Show additionally featured the debut of a new tablet that was built with c-stores in mind. It features an integrated scanner, a larger screen size, information storage for up to 25 stores, and both water resistance and the highest level of protection from dust. Show attendees were able to attend a tablet use training session following Johnson's presentation and use it to make orders from exhibiting supplier partners.
Looking ahead, McLane is turning to input from its customers to develop an e-commerce solution that retailers can host on their own websites, integrate with their loyalty programs and back-of-house solutions, and use to adapt to changing consumer expectations.
Companies like Amazon have shifted consumer expectations in a big way, and they aren't going to change back.
"It's something we've got to start addressing as an organization," Johnson said. "And as an industry, we've got to start facing."
The 2019 McLane National Trade Show concludes Aug. 22 at the Henry B González Convention Center in San Antonio.
McLane is one of the largest supply chain services leaders, providing grocery and foodservice supply chain solutions for convenience stores, mass merchants, drugstores and chain restaurants throughout the United States. McLane, through McLane Grocery and McLane Foodservice, operates more than 80 distribution centers across the United States and one of the nation's largest private fleets. In addition, McLane provides alcoholic beverage distribution through its wholly owned subsidiary, Empire Distributors Inc.
McLane is a wholly owned unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.