Grocery giant Woolworths has launched an app to help it reduce empty shelves and save millions in lost sales by keeping track of stock levels in near real-time.

The app will allow the supermarket chain to automate stocktake by using historical sales data to calculate sales expectations for the day and send alerts to suppliers when sales don’t meet expected forecasts.

WG Compass is used by suppliers to prompt in-store merchandisers to check stock levels, allowing them to quickly fix potential out-of-stocks or merchandising issues.

Staff can also access important product data for actionable insights and note store visits and mark them as complete.

The group has described the app as the “next evolution” to support merchandisers to work more efficiently.

Woolworths Director of Fresh Foods and Replenishment Paul Harker said the app will drive a step-change in merchandising standards and stock availability.

“We’re proud to be the first Australian retailer to invest in a free lost sales monitor for our suppliers.

“We see it as a genuine win-win because a lost sale for a supplier is a lost sale for Woolworths, and most likely an unsatisfied customer.”

The app, available on Apple and Android, provides near real-time, detailed information about the location of products, display commitments, planogram data and whether the product is on special.

Staff can also use a message centre in the app to communicate with a more advanced feature allowing them to attach photos and note problems and potential actions to resolve the issue.

The app will also notify merchandisers of lost sales and ranged not sold alerts.

Other critical information, such as flagging recalled items and notifying staff of a discontinued product, is also accessible through the app.

The supermarket giant invested millions to develop the app in conjunction with field sales company Crossmark.