Innovative Retail Technologies

SEP-OCT 2016

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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M anaging the transition from single-channel retail operations to multiple new sales avenues is tough work. In most cases, it requires comprehensive change to retail IT systems, which in turn demands equally comprehensive change to retail operations. The latter is often the more challenging and management-intensive effort. Chapel Hill, NC-based specialty retailer Performance Bicycle offers up a case in point. The company was founded in 1982 as an exclusively catalog/mail order merchant of bicycles, components, apparel, and accessories. Today, it's the nation's largest specialty cycling retailer. In addition to its catalog and mail order business, the company now operates 106 retail stores across 21 states. It was an early adopter of e-commerce, becoming the largest cycling e-commerce site in 1996 at performancebike. com, extending the brand's offering to recreational and competitive cyclists. Launched by the husband and wife team of Garry and Sharon Snook 34 years ago, Performance Bicycle now employs more than 2,000 associates. Disjointed Systems Impact Customers, Associates, Inventory Performance Bicycle's most aggressive expansion and growth came over the course of the last decade, and it required a wholesale overhaul of its retail systems and operations. The company's stores were largely run by a brick-and-mortar store- "Exposing our store inventory to online customers and empowering our associates to fulfill those orders have resulted in record rates of fulfillment." Mike Starkey, SVP of IS, Performance Bicycle this is nearly impossible without throwing inventory management into disarray and risking serious customer disappointment," he says. Equally important to the customer experience was the ability to present a complex, dynamic, and growing portfolio of merchandise to consumers in every channel. "Support of the endless aisle concept was near the top of our criteria for a new enterprise retail system," says Starkey. "We can't possibly stock 300 styles of bikes in two colors and five different sizes in each of our stores. We needed a means of presenting all the options, colors, and features we offer to customers in any channel, enabling those items to be purchased in a single, seamless transaction, and providing the option to have their purchases shipped to their home or to their local store." Of course, store associates did their best to accommodate special order and multi-item transactions in those disparate systems, but it was a cumbersome exercise for both Performance Bicycle associates and its customers. Associates could use catalogs and the internet to assist customers as they navigated the variables of the purchase, but when it came time to place a special order, the company's store systems were not equipped to do so. "The associate would have to pick up the phone and call the contact center, where a rep would key in the order," explains Starkey. "If the order included an item that was in-stock at the store, the customer would have to conduct two separate transactions — one at the POS and the other via the call center." That disjointed process negatively impacted the customer experience beyond the transaction — it made it very difficult for Performance Bicycle to maintain order visibility after the sale. Positioning For Growth Requires IT Overhaul In 2014, after an exhaustive review of retail enterprise software providers, Performance Bicycle's search for a channel-agnostic transaction platform that would enable enterprise selling led it to Aptos. Starkey says it was the Aptos approach to enterprise selling that sealed the deal. "The fact that associates could create any order at the POS and have that order fulfilled to the customer's specifications was our primary interest," he says. "That includes in-stock items, warehoused items, items to be drop- shipped from the manufacturer, or any combination thereof." centric enterprise software package, while catalog and e-commerce systems were largely proprietary systems developed in-house. Mike Starkey, senior VP of information systems at the company, says the channel-specific systems disparity at Performance Bicycle resulted in silos of data and operations that didn't provide the best customer experience possible for an increasingly multi-channel consumer. "We knew we needed integration of channel operations to meet the expectations of modern retail consumers, such as buy anywhere, pick up anywhere. In a channel- specific systems environment, enabling 7 Sept-Oct 2016

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