SAP looking to get category management right for North American grocers

by Canadian Shipper

SAP appears determined to establish its SAP Retail product as a viable option for top global and North American grocers.

Due for release later this year, SAP is expanding its grocery retail product to include Category Management, a system grocers use to manage and plan product needs. The new functionality will play a key role in SAP’s ability to deliver a retail product that can handle the high-volume grocery business, according to Greg Girard of AMR Research Inc.

“The bottom line. The application has the attributes of what a retailer needs to manage categories within an integrated grocery supply chain,” AMR reports in its daily report on the technology industry.

Development is 70% complete, in line with SAP’s annual development cycle that closes in May, and a key component for multidimensional category hierarchy maintenance, perhaps the toughest development nut to crack, has been shipped to a pilot customer, a 1,000-store Swiss-based grocery retailer, Girard reports.

“But you can’t use Category Management without first installing SAP Retail 4.6c, Business Warehouse 3.0 (BW), and a plug-in adapter for category hierarchy maintenance. SAP Retail 4.6c remains untested among high-volume grocers and the data warehousing release isn’t due for general availability until September. The pilot customer’s data warehousing need (2.5 terabytes) won’t calm the fears of many that remain concerned, rightly, over SAP’s ability to deliver retail products that scale,” cautions Girard. “If SAP gets Category Management and the requisite infrastructure applications right, it will be able to make use of its dominant position among Consumer Product (CP) manufacturers for its retail customers’ advantage.”

Its retail and CP data warehousing applications share the same data structure, and SAP envisions trading partners sharing multiple-enterprise BW installations in support of real-time supply-chain-level collaboration.

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