CHICAGO & LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), the exclusive provider of Costco point-of-sale (POS) and inventory information to the manufacturer community, and Costco Wholesale today announced several significant improvements to their Costco Collaborative Retail Exchange™ (CRX) program, a single, global solution for category, POS and supply chain tracking at Costco, and the launch of Costco CRX Mexico.
“Costco is excited to debut the updated Costco CRX program as our enhanced data and technology will make it even easier for our valued manufacturer community to obtain specific, real-time information about their business at Costco,” said Brad Shelton, executive vice president, Retail Client Solutions, IRI. “Costco is consistently impressed with IRI’s ability to transform our POS information into actionable business insights for manufacturers, and we’re confident that the platform’s new global POS and supply chain management capabilities will further improve our manufacturers’ communications and overall success in Costco stores.”
Launched in 2004, the state-of-the-art Costco CRX technology platform gives manufacturers a detailed solution for total Costco tracking. Rather than relying on several disparate data sources to gather information, manufacturers can use this single, overarching tool to obtain a full view of Costco’s global business. The platform provides a consistent set of Costco internal data points to meet all Costco manufacturer needs and facilitate a collaborative relationship between manufacturers and buyers. In August 2012, IRI and Costco migrated the Costco CRX program to the state-of the-art Liquid Data™ technology platform, enabling faster insights. Several data enhancements have also been added during the past year, including category tracking and real-time data.
“IRI is committed to growing with Costco as they continue to expand as one of the world’s leading retailers,” said Cindi Harper, senior vice president, Retail Insights and Solutions, IRI. “We developed these innovative new data offerings to directly address vendor requests, and we’re excited to continue improving the Costco CRX program to provide a valuable solution for any manufacturer that wants to improve performance at the world’s largest wholesale club.”
Enhanced Category Data Promotes Benchmarking and Proactive Category Performance Management
The Costco CRX program’s new “Category Tools” service—the enhancement most frequently requested by participating vendors—provides critical performance benchmarking capabilities. Prior to April 2013, vendors were only able to access their own data, but the new function allows manufacturers to measure performance against the rest of their category as well as all releasable Costco subcategories and segments. With new category data, subscribing manufacturers can identify category trends, track their category performance and gain valuable insight into the competitive landscape.
The “Category Tools” service also provides a historical view of seasonal trends and the competitive landscape during the past three years. Historical data allows manufacturers to quickly identify any slight change in category performance and adjust accordingly, while also providing valuable insight for promotional activities, product demonstrations and inventory quantities.
Real-Time Sales and Inventory Data Enable Rapid Reaction to Changing Trends
In December 2012, IRI and Costco began releasing daily sales and inventory data to the manufacturer community, meeting manufacturers’ requests for a real-time data solution. Every day of the week, the Costco CRX program delivers the previous day’s sales metrics for all items in all stores—a service that no other retailer provides currently. This timely information allows manufacturers to react immediately to the changing retail environment, including identifying and adjusting inventory and streamlining new product launches.
Costco CRX Mexico Meets Growing Global Demand
In addition to equipping the Costco CRX solution with enhanced technological features, IRI and Costco Wholesale have expanded the program with the launch of Costco CRX Mexico. More than 750 global vendors have participated in the Costco CRX service since it launched in the United States in 2004 and in Canada in 2009.
“The Costco CRX platform has been a tremendous success in the United States and Canada, so we’re thrilled to be able to offer our manufacturers in Mexico the same quality solution and enable a more global view of Costco’s sales,” said Mark Feldman, director of sales, Costco Mexico.
A Complete Supply Chain Management Solution
Because of Costco’s low operating margins, manufacturers must be extremely diligent with forecasting and order management to avoid inventory issues. With Costco CRX’s new, daily, updated suite of supply chain management measures, including POS and inventory information, subscribers can make faster business decisions, driving more accurate forecasting and demand planning, more efficient business practices and better overall success at Costco. The inclusion of three additional inventory metrics (in transit, on order and orders received), complements the program’s existing inventory measures (inventory on hand and average days of supply) to create a full supply chain management solution.
Since the launch of Costco CRX’s enhanced supply chain capabilities in 2012, manufacturers have been able to gain a never-before-seen view of their product before it even reaches Costco, allowing for significantly more detailed and accurate forecasting. With these improved forecasts, Costco CRX subscribers can optimize inventory levels at each warehouse, reducing out of stocks and carrying costs, and ultimately lowering operational costs.
Improved Seasonal Vendor Program
For seasonal items, the difference between daily and weekly sales and inventory insights can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars of order adjustments. However, Costco CRX’s new real-time data gives manufacturers the information needed to make these adjustments before it’s too late.
Future Platform Enhancements to Include UPC Level Data
In Q2 2013, Costco and IRI will further improve the Costco CRX platform with the addition of UPC-level data. The new UPC component of the Costco CRX database will allow sales visibility by sizes and colors sold at Costco, enabling improved performance tracking of any item with multiple UPCs. This enhancement is particularly critical for apparel and media vendors seeking to manage inventory levels against consumer demand.
About Costco Wholesale
Costco Wholesale is the largest wholesale club operator in the U.S. The company operates 460-plus membership warehouse stores serving 45 million cardholders in 37 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, Canada, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, and the UK, primarily under the Costco Wholesale name. The Company also operates Costco Online, a U.S. electronic commerce web site, at http://www.costco.com.
IRI is a leader in delivering powerful market and shopper information, predictive analysis and the foresight that leads to action. We go beyond the data to ignite extraordinary growth for our clients in the CPG, retail and over-the-counter healthcare industries by pinpointing what matters and illuminating how it can impact their businesses across sales and marketing.
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