Long-Time ECRS User Highlights Benefits of Retail Automation
2 J’s Fresh Market is a unique cross-over grocery store that has served the Great Falls, Montana community since 1986. While emphasis is placed on natural and organic products, 2 J’s also offers traditional grocery items within their 10,000 square foot retail space. They work closely with area farmers and ranchers to provide the freshest, highest quality products for their customers. Their formula seems to be working as they have experienced significant growth over the past few years fueled by consumers seeking healthier options. Dylan Pedersen, Owner of 2 J’s Fresh Market, recently took time to discuss his business and their use of retail automation in daily operations. Pedersen has been using ECRS’s CATAPULT™ point-of-sale and back office management system for over ten years, and recently added Supplier Gateway™ to improve supply chain efficiencies and automate communications with his main supplier, United Natural Foods (UNFI).
ECRS: Please tell us about your business and the community you serve.
Pedersen: 2 J’s Fresh Market began as a wholesale produce company and later transitioned to a natural products grocery store. About 75% of our products are natural or organic and 25% are traditional grocery items. We offer a full service meat department, cheese department, bulk foods, supplements, seafood, and produce. We support local farms, growers, and ranchers by making their products readily available to our customers. 2 J’s is the natural specialty store in town, and we try to cater to all of our customers’ varying needs and wants. This has served us well and our growth has continued through the years, especially lately as natural, local and organic products have become more popular and people are more conscious about what they consume. Our business has increased by at least 5% over the last few years.
ECRS: Explain what led to your decision to install CATAPULT and how you have adapted the system to fit your needs through the years.
Pedersen: Before purchasing CATAPULT in 2000, we used another POS system. At the time, it became apparent that we needed to look at upgrading to a new system with more flexibility and automation. I liked the back office functionality CATAPULT offered and it was easy to use. Over the years, we’ve upgraded our hardware but always kept the same software, CATAPULT. Our hardware currently consists of four ECRS Freedom Panel™ frontend POS terminals, four back office manager stations, hand held inventory scanners, and a digital™ CATAPULT Appliance Server. We have also implemented ECRS’ Supplier Gateway™ service to automate our ordering and receiving.
ECRS: Do you feel CATAPULT has improved your customers’ checkout experience?
Pedersen: Yes. Transactions are faster and more accurate, and it’s easy for customers to pay with a credit or debit card. Cashiers can be trained on POS in a day; it’s a very intuitive and easy system for employees to use.
ECRS: Explain how you manage your inventory with CATAPULT and Supplier Gateway.
Pedersen: The majority of my inventory is replenished using Catapult OrderAssist technology, meaning CATAPULT automatically suggests the best order based on movement, sales trends and other variables. When using this method, it is critically important that you take the time to work with ECRS to insure everything is properly set up and your data is accurate, but if you take the time initially, it provides significant time savings and inventory accuracy. Supplier Gateway adds the final piece and allows us to electronically transmit orders and receive invoices with our main, trusted supplier, UNFI. It definitely streamlines the entire process and improves the way we do business with UNFI. I also receive price and cost changes through the system which helps manage prices on received inventory. By using this system, we are able to keep less inventory on hand but stock more of our top selling items. Out-of-stock items are no longer an issue for us. Compared with previous methods of inventory management, we probably save two hours per order (for large orders). I use the Supplier Gateway webbased dashboard to make sure my orders have been transferred and are in process. It provides a way for me to easily monitor placed orders and quickly be alerted to any issues.
ECRS: How do you use CATAPULT’s back office reporting system? What are some reports you rely on regularly?
Pedersen: The reports I probably use the most are Department Net Optimized, Monthly Sales History, Purchase Order reports, Price and Cost Change, and Hourly Sales. CATAPULT’s reporting system provides insight into the business. I can closely monitor item movement which helps determine top sellers and plan promotions. I use the Hourly Sales report to plan schedules and determine how much staff we need during a given time so we are adequately covered without over-staffing.
ECRS: How has your experience been with ECRS’s customer service and technical support?
Pedersen: It’s been great. They are easy to talk to and understand and prioritize very well to provide fast response times. The online ticketing system improves the experience and lets you easily see all of your open tickets and the ticket’s status.