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Retailing Today reports that Walmart has introduced a new smartphone application for manufacturers, called "SPARC" - which stands for "Supplier Portal Allowing Retail Coverage." According to the story, "The goal behind the app’s development was to allow real-time data sharing and bring process improvement to the in-store environment. It does so by enhancing the ability of suppliers and third party service organizations to access inventory held in back rooms and take action at the shelf as warranted by in-stock levels.

"Suppliers and employees of third party service groups who receive appropriate training from a merchandising firm soon will be able to use their smart phones to perform many of the functions that currently require assistance from a store associate armed with a bulkier handheld device known as a Telxon."

The story says that "prior to the rollout the program was piloted 28 stores in four markets with several major suppliers including L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Kellogg, Unilever and ConAgra ... The app was developed by Wal-Mart’s digital partner Rockfish with funding provided by several major suppliers."

Reuters reports that Walmart-owned Asda Group in the UK "is considering a bid for collapsed music retailer HMV." Asda is said to be interested not just in the physical locations, but also in the brand and CD/DVD/video game business.
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