The Problem

UNFI’s outdated, call-based ordering system was prone to data entry errors and inefficiencies, resulting in slower order processing times and customer frustration.  

The Solution

Stable Kernel and UNFI combined scan gun hardware technology with a mobile application to streamline the ordering process and enable customers to order food products in real time.

Background

United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) is the leading independent national distributor of more than 60,000 natural, organic and specialty foods and related products. The company prides itself on providing innovative, value-added services to more than 49,000 customers – grocery stores, organic specialty food markets, and restaurants — including Whole Foods and Safeway.

However, customers struggled with UNFI’s cumbersome paper catalogs and phone-based ordering system – a major pain point that needed a tech-savvy solution. UNFI determined a mobile app that integrated with the scan gun hardware was the answer to its challenge.

Stable Kernel is the team to get the job done technically and strategically.

Thanks to Stable Kernel's strategic partnership, we’ve achieved 100% customer adoption of the app and net sales have increased significantly.

Greg Aldridge , Senior IT Architect, UNFI
Greg Aldridge Senior IT Architect, UNFI

Process

  • Determining the Right Software Solution for UNFI
  • Tying UNFI’s Data Together for Easy Access

To improve its initial proof-of-concept product, UNFI relied on Stable Kernel for mobile development strategy and implementation. We iterated on the existing code base to create iUNFI, an iOS mobile application for vendors that integrates with scan gun hardware.

UNFI’s customers can now use the app to scan barcodes of products they need to be restocked, and their information is automatically and securely funneled into an existing cloud-based order management solution. iUNFI allows vendors full control over placing, scheduling, and tracking their orders, and it reduces the need for UNFI’s staff to manually manage orders.

Soon after beginning the project, we uncovered a challenge: UNFI’s data was stored across multiple databases and, at times, managed by different internal teams. With UNFI’s massive product database and vast supply chain, uniting the data would not be a simple task.

To display the data in a clean, intuitive way on the front end, we made it a priority to tie the data together seamlessly in the backend. This also standardized the development of the application and simplified the process of UNFI’s developers contributing to the product. 

This specialized app works great.

This app turns your phone into a handheld for UNFI. It allows you to scan barcodes, search for items, access your history, create tags, and has many other helpful tools packed in. This app literally saves me hours worth of time a week when comparing it to the old ordering method... Thank you UNFI app team for this amazing tool.

UNFI Customer,
UNFI Customer

Outcomes

With an intuitive iOS application and a streamlined ordering process, UNFI reduced its average ordering time from 10 minutes to 30 seconds — a 95% reduction. All of the company’s 49,000+ customers have adopted the application, and more than $1 billion in sales passes through the system annually.

Additionally, product orders can now be completed on a phone with a camera, making barcode scanning technology more accessible to smaller retailers. UNFI is fulfilling its mission to bring value and innovation to all retailers, big and small, in North America.

95%

order reduction

$1B

sales annually

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