Innovative Retail Technologies

JAN-FEB 2017

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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An intriguing decision to let its VP of finance lead a POS overhaul ensured the project's success. D on't let Lisa Johnson's title fool you. Yes, as VP of finance at Petland, Johnson keeps a close eye on the financials of the franchise merchant's 150+ global stores. Yes, she's a CPA, an accoun- tant by training and trade. But in a front office that's lean on staff by design, she's not your typical head-in-the-weeds numbers cruncher. Her small but very seasoned executive team doesn't even include a CIO. That's but one of the reasons Johnson's title is so deceiving. Much of the company's high-level IT work makes its way to her desk, and that includes a recent POS overhaul that Johnson hasn't just overseen, but championed and owned from day one. Inefficiencies Of An Outgrown POS For as long as Johnson has been with Petland — about 15 years — the company has operat- ed a single-store POS software package that's been prodded and patched to meet the com- pany's needs as it grew to 13 corporate and 140 international franchised stores. "The solu- tion worked very well for us when we were a smaller business in a big field," says Johnson. "But about three years ago, we realized that we needed to move to a multistore solution." Inefficiencies were an issue, especially for the retailer's merchandising team, which had to Petland's Innovative Approach To POS When we started searching for a multistore solution, we needed someone who could meet our unique POS and inventory management needs." Lisa Johnson, VP of finance, Petland dial in to each store individually to run sales reports and extract merchandise data. Not just any centralized, multistore platform would do, however. Petland has a unique requirement in its need to track serialized inventory, whereby items — in this case, pets — are assigned their own unique serial numbers to track warranties, support traceability, and confirm ownership. "When we started searching for a multistore solution, we needed someone who could meet our unique POS and inventory management needs," says Johnson. "Not many providers have the ability or the stomach to develop the framework we needed." Johnson and Petland contracted with proj- ect management and strategic planning con- sultancy Compass Integration, tasking the firm with identifying a suitable platform. Following a thorough review process, Petland chose Multidev. Johnson says Multidev changed her perception that POS packages are either really good at transactions and inventory control or really good at accounting, but never both. "Multidev started out developing account- ing software, and that became evident in our analysis of their ChainDrive solution," says Johnson. "This was the first time I ever saw a POS software package that was strong on both ends." BY MATT PILLAR Jan-Feb 2017 18 Proven Innovations An Unlikely Champion You might assume the financials-minded Johnson simply drew the short straw when she wound up with responsibility for the POS overhaul at Petland, but that wasn't at all the case. "I knew how much we stood to lose if we maintained the status quo or made a ques- tionable investment in a new platform," she says. She also knew what Petland would gain if it addressed its inefficiencies and positioned itself for growth. On a plane ride home from a visit with Mul- tidev at its Montreal headquarters, Johnson conferred with Petland's director of merchan- dising and VP of development. "We agreed that whoever took charge of the implementa- tion would have to be more than accepting of the responsibility; they'd have to be passionate about it," says Johnson. The project leader

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