Innovative Retail Technologies

MAR 2013

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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In-Store Systems Case Study EDI Enables Automation, Collaboration For Multibrand Retailer Outsourcing electronic data interchange (EDI) enabled specialty retailer Retail Concepts to reduce shipment receipt activity from hours to minutes and minimize vendor chargebacks. by Matt Pillar H ouston-based Retail Concepts is the parent testing for those vendors that had in-house EDI capacompany of Sun & Ski Sports, an outdoor bilities or those using other third-party services. outfitter with 25 locations across the nation. Soon, it was time to communicate the initiative to Retail Concepts also owns and operates five Retail Concepts' vendor community. The retailer and other retail stores, including Patio Place and Ski Stop. DiCentral worked together on that effort, informing As Retail Concepts grew its sales, store counts, and the supplier community that new processes were being brands, the number of suppliers it dealt with mushimplemented and compliance testing would soon folroomed in corollary fashion. Throughout that growth, low. Many of the vendors the retailer does business with the company was aware that the increasingly frenetic pace were already familiar with DiCentral and had experiof warehouse activity and resulting management effort enced the benefits of EDI firsthand. was leading to the need for a comprehensive approach Others balked, requiring some coaxing and hand-holdto electronic data interchange (EDI). Heading into 2010, ing through the process. "EDI vendor testing was one company executives knew something had to be done. area where we felt absolutely confident in our decision The company's first inclination was to tackle the project to outsource," says Nixon. "I can't imagine any retailer in-house; it had a programmer on who really has the manpower staff who had a smattering of EDI to handle that. It's very tedious, experience. When that programvery time-consuming, and takes mer suggested a meeting with EDI a lot of effort. You need to dedisolutions provider DiCentral — cate a team of people to it, and just for conversation's sake, mind we couldn't have done that part you — Retail Concepts' VP of IT without DiCentral." Shelly Nixon agreed to entertain the idea. "To sum it up, DiCentral Assessing The Impact Of EDI came in, did a presentation, and All transactions to and from changed our minds. They sold us Retail Concepts and its vendor on outsourcing the effort," she Fast growth led Retail Concepts, the $85 million community now move through says. "It was a matter of ROI. We parent company of Sun & Ski Sports, to implement DiCentral's communications realized it would come more quick- EDI. environment and are tested for ly and be stronger if we put it on a third party to make it accuracy, tracked, and reported to the retailer. While happen, as opposed to struggling through it ourselves." some might assume that adding a management/control layer to vendor communication might have negative Change Management: Behind-The-Scenes repercussions on efficiency, Retail Concepts experienced the opposite. "After the implementation, thanks Work Lays Foundation For EDI in large part to the advance ship notice (ASN) requireThe next several months were spent in the trenches, ments in the new system, shipments that would have with on-site support from DiCentral helping the EDI taken four to six hours to receive were being comteam at Retail Concepts, first effectively define the pleted in 30 minutes," says Nixon. She also says vendor specific EDI documents required to more effectively chargebacks have decreased dramatically with EDI due communicate with their vendor community, then develto the improved accuracy of orders, and that EDI is op the specifications and mapping for the EDI X12 enabling more efficient direct store delivery (DSD) documents that would be sent to and from the supplier activity among its vendors. ■ community within the Retail Concepts ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. Additionally, DiCentral set For More Information On DiCentral up a compliance-testing platform to perform document Go To March 2013 ● 31

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