This organization is comprised of over 230 independently owned and operated stores in California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Their stores are located in cities large and small, and serve all kinds of neighborhoods. Many stores are operated by families serving their local communities.
The company’s buyers are experts at sourcing product ‘opportunistically’; that is, product outside the normal retail channel, i.e. packaging changes, product overruns, and surplus inventories, to bring the best bargains to their customers. As such, products change ‘in and out’ constantly, which requires highly responsive inventory management.
The store-ordering system that had been in place for many years was a paper-based ‘batch oriented’ system requiring hand-written notations to be manually entered into the computer system several times each week for each store. In addition, because products change regularly and fulfillment may not occur as expected, there was a need for ‘alternate ordering’ for many line items further complicating the process. The business needed to increase efficiencies in this area to improve productivity and accelerate the ordering process.
Working in close collaboration with the client team, Apex Process Consultants assisted with the development and deployment of a ‘tablet-based’ store-ordering application in IBM BPM. Custom Order windows are created for each store to enable them to see what is available by item as well as sale margin and other relevant real time information. In addition, advanced filtering is available to quickly find the best items for each order. The User Interface was built using Apex Coach Views toolkit, which served to significantly accelerate development and deployment time.
The following were direct results of the implemented solution that had a positive impact on the organization’s ability to streamline ordering process, reduce errors and associated costs:
- Increased order fill rates from low 90’s to over 98% (an ‘all-time high’ for the company)
- Better ordering decisions – established ability to make decisions incorporating sales information in real time
- Ability to view ‘blended margin’ percentages to keep within desirable ranges
- Visually see the weight and cube of a truck as an order progresses
- IT organization learned how to perform Agile development more effectively
- Ability to implement new business rules to support aggressive growth plan (a key benefit that was not possible with the prior system)
- A new platform for integration with other systems to improve supply chain efficiency