Gourmet News

UNFI partners with Buyer's Best Friend for unified reordering system

Available by August, iUNFI significantly simplifies reordering from specialty direct vendors

General News - August, 2012

Leading distributor United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) has partnered with direct vendor network and online catalog Buyer's Best Friend (BBF), to extend their technology leadership with a groundbreaking reordering system based on a mobile app. 

The partnership works on iUNFI, the distributor's mobile platform that goes into wide availability this month. Using any Apple iOS based device (iPhone, iTouch, etc) and an attachable barcode scanner, retailers will be able to seamlessly restock more than 1,700 direct order specialty brands with the same ease—and using the same system—as they use to reorder their UNFI products. 

"We wanted to offer our customers the ability to interact and order from us using devices they use every day," said Joshua Sigel, VP Digital Media UNFI. "Many retailers today still value the ability to walk the aisles, interact with the product and create an order at shelf level. [iUNFI] brings the power of mobile technology and Apple's intuitive platform together with a direct connection to UNFI's business systems."

The iUNFI app is available for free download by UNFI customers, using their current username and password. They can then scan products, using either their phone's built-in camera or a laser scanner that can be purchased from the iUNFI website. For smaller orders, customers can just use their touch screen. For those that do not own an iTouch or iPhone, kits complete with a new iTouch will be available.

All this will integrate with the BBF component, which will be available this Fall—in time for the allimportant holiday season.

"Consumers want more local and artisan brands, but for grocers and other buyers, it can be difficult to manage dozens, let alone hundreds of direct vendor relationships," said Adam Sah, CEO of Buyer's Best Friend. "We built Buyer's Best Friend to bring new and artisan brands to a wider audience. Partnering with the industry leader is the best way to bring thousands of amazing up-andcoming brands into the hands of millions of consumers."

Initial reviews from test users have been extremely positive. No separate coding is required, as iUNFI immediately understands the direct vendor bar codes. Orders then flow to direct vendors via BBF's patent-pending technology, which makes order processing as easy as reading email. Besides being freed from the extra work of dealing with direct vendors, UNFI customers also gain access to BBF's network of over 109,000 SKUs and 1,700 specialty and natural brands.

For direct vendors, the new platform solves real logistics problems that can affect sales. It also becomes a potential step towards being distributed. 

"This is an industry-changing solution that solves real problems for thousands of direct brands. Reordering direct is now part of the same process as distributed, saving reps and brokers across the country from having to constantly check store shelves," said Cory Baehr of CBI Imports in Los Angeles. "I will no longer have to worry about my direct brands falling out of stock."

Retailers who are not existing UNFI customers can contact their local UNFI rep or go through the standard inquiry mechanisms on www.unfi.com. Soon, customers can visit the separate website, www.iunfi.com for access to training and support, and to purchase iUNFI hardware and enhanced support.

"Our partnership with BBF is a result of us listening to our customers and our focus on offering them value added solutions that help them manage and grow their business. We recognize that our customers have purchasing needs beyond the scope of what we distribute, and our customers have consistently voiced the need for a single ordering platform that can support direct vendor ordering. We believe BBF is the right partner to bring this integrated technology to market," Sigel said. 

United Natural Foods, Inc. (www.unfi.com) carries and distributes more than 60,000 products to more than 23,000 customer locations throughout the United States and Canada. The Company serves a wide variety of retail formats including conventional supermarket chains, natural product superstores, independent retail operators and the food service channel. United Natural Foods, Inc. was ranked by Fortune in 2006 – 2010 and 2012 as one of its "Most Admired Companies," winner of the Supermarket News 2008 Sustainability Excellence Award, and recognized by the Nutrition Business Journal for its 2009 Environment and Sustainability Award. 

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