Unilever has completed the first phase of an IT project designed to improve the availability of its products on supermarket shelves.
The company which makes brands such as Ribena, Flora and Surf has rolled out software as part of its On Shelf Availability (OSA) project to the UK and US markets, with a global roll-out to follow.
The OSA project aims to improve forecasting to supply the right amount of goods to customers much faster.
By using a common system to allocate its total stock between customers worldwide, Unilever expects that increased sales will follow as shortages are reduced.
Using the system, information can be submitted from stores directly into the Unilever data warehouse. This displays local and regional trend data that business managers at Unilever can use to allocate stock from one location to another.
Unilever has used Kalido's active information management and Master Data Management (MDM) software to source data from multiple feeds and to ensure standard definitions for the data it recieves.
The company said the project is a critical to maintaining brand loyalty and the program provides Unilever with a global view of how its products are selling at retailers.
"The global consumer packaged goods industry is fast-paced, competitive and constantly changing. We need the most up-to-date information on how our business is operating to successfully stay ahead of market trends and our competitors," said Gary Calveley, VP Global Customer Service Excellence of Unilever.
Retail analyst IGD said in a report that 46% of UK shoppers still experience out-of-stocks in their supermarket, presenting significant challenges in meeting demand at the shelf. A major industry priority for many suppliers remains developing smarter inventory management and improved data and information sharing.