Innovative Retail Technologies

MAR-APR 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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the battery might reach end of life if the marker didn't wear off, as it typically did. So that method was ineffective," he says. The Test & Replace service from GTS consists of a simple, proprietary battery tester and mobile app that allows Tractor Supply team members to quickly identify and replace bad batteries on-site. Tractor Supply piloted the system in its Franklin, KY, DC and has spread the initiative to the rest of its DC sites over the past two years as each has come due for a refresh. Bad batteries are earmarked for recycling, while good ones remain in service. " This technology tells you the battery's status, eliminating guesswork on our part," says Hutchins. The testing device couldn't be simpler — a green light means good to go, orange indicates a three-to-six month prognosis, and a red light means it's time to recycle and replace. On the back end, GTS receives data from the application and automates the resupply of fresh, modern mobile device batteries when they're needed and where they're needed. Battery Rec ycling Supports Sustainability Tractor Supply strives to be a socially responsible brand. Hutchins says the company manages an ongoing stewardship program that focuses on environmental sustainability. Its Brentwood-based store support center, built in 2014, is LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) silver- certified, as is the company's new Arizona DC. "We're very proud of our sustainability accomplishments," says Hutchins, "and we make it a goal of as many strategic and tactical initiatives as possible." Those examples abound. The company is currently engaged in a major energy- reducing LED lighting retrofit in its stores. In its stores and DCs, a cardboard recycling initiative resulted in the recycling of 21,277 tons of cardboard in 2015 alone. That effort contributed to 85 percent of DC-generated waste processed through the company's recycling efforts. But the retailer doesn't just recycle its own waste, it encourages community participation. An in-store oil recycling program, for instance, saw Tractor Supply customers bring 76,373 gallons of oil in for responsible recycling reuse in 2015. The company recycles wood pallets, vehicle batteries, and, of course, mobile device batteries. "GTS handles battery recycling for us at several locations," says Hutchins, "and while we haven't measured the direct impact, there's no question that to the extent that we can extend battery life and dispose of fewer batteries, the Test & Replace program is absolutely in line with our sustainability initiatives." The Impactful Simplicity Of Battery Management Hutchins says that as with anything undertaken by an organization as large as Tractor Supply, seemingly small gains can have a significant impact. "Our primary focus is around managing total landed cost, from source to shelf, and we have a very tight focus at that level," he says. Between team members trying to manually determine the health of hundreds of batteries in a single DC and all the time spent by team members traversing the DC in search of batteries that work, it's not difficult to see the kind of impact inefficiency can have on total landed cost. " There are so many steps to getting one piece of anything from start to finish in the supply chain. It's a very complex environment," says Hutchins. " That 10-minute loss of time that's so easy to imagine could mean a pallet doesn't ship, and that's what DCs are all about — getting products to stores and customers." That's to say nothing of the inherent value of extended battery life in the devices that make your supply chain hum. For Tractor Supply, keeping those devices in service with an active battery management plan benefits stakeholders across the spectrum, from customers to store managers to the DC associates who use them. 9 Mar-Apr 2017 "We're very proud of our sustainability accomplishments, and we make it a goal of as many strategic and tactical initiatives as possible." Tom Hutchins, VP of technology and IT strategy, Tractor Supply Co.

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