This article was first published in the Autumn 2014 issue of Speak
Founded 25 years ago, Kathmandu has grown from a small retailer of clothing and equipment for travel and adventure, to a vertically-integrated business with a significant retail presence in New Zealand and Australia. In 2012, the retailer selected JustEnough's Assortment and Item Planning solutions to improve its planning process. Following this successful implementation, Kathmandu decided to address its manual, Excel-based allocation and replenishment processes by implementing JustEnough's Demand Forecasting, Inventory Planning, Replenishment and Allocation modules. Karen McCandless speaks to Kathmandu CIO Grant Taylor to find out more about the benefits it has gained from these modules, as well as Dynamics AX.
Let’s start with your 2012 implementation – what challenges were you facing before you implemented JustEnough's Assortment and Item Planning solutions?
The primary problem was poor system performance of our legacy platform. We were having major outages and we also didn’t have a systemised forecasting and planning solution. Everything was on Excel spreadsheets, meaning when we changed an attribute or wanted to look at forecasting across the entire range, we had to go into multiple spreadsheets to ensure the data was synced up. It was time intensive and inefficient and the functionality we needed just wasn’t there.
Why did you decide on JustEnough?
The primary reason was that it fit with our Dynamics AX strategy. Kathmandu has a selection process that says if it’s Microsoft and it meets our requirements then that is what we choose. But AX didn’t have the necessary functionality, so we needed to look at an ISV partner and JustEnough is the leading worldwide Microsoft partner for forecasting and planning. We also found that we were heading towards assortment range planning and our current processes weren’t aligned to our systems and best practices. We wanted to work with a partner that had the intellectual property that could teach us what we should be doing, align our bespoke practices and provide a single source of the truth.
What benefits have you realised since the implementation?
It’s now much quicker to produce forecast plans, which is creating inherent efficiencies in system availability. Having a single source of the truth for forecasting and planning is also a real benefit and we’re looking at significant dollar savings and a good ROI too.
Why did you then decide to extend that relationship and implement JustEnough's Demand Forecasting, Inventory Planning, Replenishment and Allocation modules?
Again, because of the ISV relationship with Microsoft. We run quite a sophisticated warehouse and required a demand planning tool that could not only meet these needs, but also work seamlessly in an end-to-end AX environment. JustEnough was able to fill the gap around generating demand and, more importantly, help us understand where the demand for that stock would end up in our network. So this meant we could put the right stock in the right place at the right time.
When are you going live on these modules?
We’ve done all the testing but we still need to go through the change management and training so we’re slated to go live at the end of August.
What benefits do you expect to see?
We expect to see a reduction in out of stock issues and, therefore, minimise lost sales. We want to decrease the stock we hold in store to allow us to present the space better and have a just-in-time approach to replenishment. This will allow us to gain efficiencies, such as more store space and better stock throughput. We will also be able to put thresholds and boundaries in place so we can just deal with out-of-stock exceptions, instead of having to trawl through all the data and traffic to find out what is going on at any time.
What were the timescales of these implementations?
The Assortment and Item Planning modules took around eight months. We started the second project in February and expect to finish in August, so around eight months as well. This is quite fast for the industry.
What is your experience of working with JustEnough?
The team has provided very valuable thought leadership, educating us and helping us grow our business processes. JustEnough has also been very flexible – the team can work remotely or on site. The coordination of resources was another plus. JustEnough is a worldwide company whose resources are spread throughout the world and we deal with people from Virginia in the US to South Africa. But this actually worked in our favour; with the time difference we could ask for something and wake up in the morning and it was done. We were also really impressed with the way JustEnough helped us with change management. We were conscious that our staff had developed processes over time and that we were systemising those with these implementations. The JustEnough team was very good at leading our employees through that process of change.
How will you continue to work with JustEnough in the future?
We’re currently evaluating the JustEnough Promotion Management and Merchandise Financial Planning modules.
You’ve already mentioned that you use Dynamics AX, what does this solution provide you?
We are running on Dynamics AX 2012 R2 and will be upgrading to R3 next year. At the moment, we have Dynamics AX integrated into our enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, but we are moving to a single ERP platform. Being on a single platform means that when we change data, the information will be automatically updated across the whole system. For example, if a customer joins our loyalty programme, they will immediately be able to get discounts in store – they won’t have to wait for the data to go through the system anymore. Plus, we can also sell to our customers online really well by having accurate stock counts, which enables better promotional activity. The customer experience and the content they consume will be much richer and more powerful than it is at the moment. This omni-channel experience is really only achievable when you have an integrated platform and that is what AX will give us.
Are you using any other Microsoft technology in the company?
We use Lync as our phone systems, as well as for videoconferencing and instant messaging. We also use Windows Phone devices and run on SharePoint for content management and System Center for management and monitoring. Our whole back office system is based on Windows Server and SQL Server.
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