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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would also have to come from the executive suite and be comfortable championing the effort. "That was me," says Johnson. "I knew what the investment looked like, and I knew what failure would look like." When the team returned to the corporate office in Chillicothe, OH, she walked into Petland President Joe Watson's office and told him she knew it wasn't 'normal' for a VP of finance to assume the responsibility of a POS implementation, but she wanted to own it. Watson agreed. A Key Ally In Store Operations The answer to one of Johnson's first questions to Multidev would help her ensure the POS implementation success Petland sought. She simply asked executives at the vendor com- pany, when the wheels fall off, what's typically the cause? "They were up front about that, and they said failed implementations are usually a result of someone on the client side dropping the ball." With that in mind, Johnson says she went to great lengths assembling a project management team. This was, after all, a sig- nificant investment for the company, entailing not just a software implementation but also the replacement of its networks, firewalls, and POS hardware. Compass provided strategic and tactical IT support, linking Petland with Connection, from which it sources all of its IT equipment." We put together a solid team of executives and leveraged our partners at Com- pass, but in the early going, we had trouble establishing commitment to the platform at the store level," admits Johnson. "We soon realized that we needed someone on the retail store operations side to take ownership of the training and execution element of the implementation," she says. Petland's flagship store in Chillicothe offered up just the person. "One of our managers in that store had the prerequisites to be our POS trainer and imple- mentation specialist," says Johnson. "He had plenty of retail experience, he was very logical regarding IT, and most importantly, he had the people skills to be very effective at training and knowledge transfer." Within a few months of that decision, all of Petland's corporate stores were live on ChainDrive. Corporate Stores Provide Proving Ground In its previous platform, Petland merchandis- ers dialed into stores using LogMeIn remote access software to run reports that deter- mined the orders they would place with the retailer's several different distributors. That time-consuming exercise is a thing of the past. "Now, our merchandisers can access a server and see our inventory standing in a central place," says Johnson. Timesavings aside, that access offers a host of benefits. "Central visibility of inventory allows us to work smarter with the inventory we have. Instead of excessive orders, for instance, we can often transfer existing inventory to meet demand." The new system also allows Petland merchandisers to consolidate purchase orders and generate a single PO for all of its corporate stores, which creates better lever- age with suppliers. Instead of ordering two fish nets for one store, for example, it can or- der 20 fish nets for 13 stores and enjoy better pricing. "Our merchandising team is now able to look at strategic processes, rather than tactical processes," says Johnson. Petland is also able to create uniformity of the product mix across its stores, which Johnson says was very difficult to do before. "When we saw that 20 percent of the products in store A, for in- stance, were not available in store B, we were able to fix that discrepancy quickly." Fueling The Future For Franchisees With ChainDrive from Multidev working for corporate stores at Petland, the merchant is now turning its attention to its franchisees. Johnson says there's plenty of demand for the solution among those independent operators. "When Multidev presented at our annual conference last August, many franchi- sees wanted to sign up right away," she says. "We're taking a methodical approach, how- ever. We'll continue to fine-tune the solution at corporate and roll out to franchisees as they age out of their existing platforms." The company's aforementioned corporate POS implementation and training director will assume new responsibility for execution of the rollout at the franchise level. But Johnson is quick to clarify that the Multidev solution won't be forced upon franchisees. "We'll work on evaluating what we've been able to do with Multidev at corporate and share that success with franchisees to influence their decisions," she says. "We don't want to force corporate inventory control and manage- ment on our franchises, but our preference is to have visibility into their inventory and demonstrate the shared value of that visibil- ity." In sum, the more stores Petland brings onto the ChainDrive platform, the more data the company will have to make more intel- ligent buying and allocation decisions. Johnson admits that in many retail environments, finance can be a lonely and isolated department. "This company is totally different," she says. "Our finance department is fully engaged with our operations team, so much so that we could go in and run a store." The VP of finance might not be the most intuitive choice to lead a POS platform overhaul, but the decision is central to the project's success at Petland. 19 Jan-Feb 2017 We needed someone on the retail store operations side to take ownership of the training and execution element of the implementation." Lisa Johnson, VP of finance, Petland

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