To become a successful omnichannel organization, a retailer must improve alignment between all facets of the business, including marketing, planning, merchandising and supply chain operations. In doing so, a business can improve decision-making and get a more comprehensive view of consumer demand and behaviors.
As a business that thrives online but is beginning to bleed into other commerce channels, Direct Wines needed to improve its planning, forecasting and fulfillment strategies. By implementing the cloud-based solution from Predictix, the retailer has been able to support current operations more efficiently, and ensure ongoing success as the brand expands its business across catalogs, the web and through retail stores under the Laithwaites brand. Direct Wines also provides wine clubs to customers of The Wall Street Journal, Zagat, Virgin and the Sunday Times.
Because of Direct Wines’ complex business model, the company needed a “cohesive system that would let our buyers and merchandisers plan, generate promotions, forecast and source product in a coordinated way,” said Gary Isaacs, CIO, Direct Wines, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “This meant we needed an end-to-end demand and supply planning solution, with in-day promotion and fulfillment decisions and the ability to plan promotions and offers in near real time, dealing with in-day demand changes.”
The existing transactional ERP solutions available to Direct Wines employees, however, were unable to offer these capabilities, hindering the retailer from providing customer-centric promotions, offers, product recommendations and assortments. Moreover, the lack of system integration made it difficult for the business to work in a coordinated way between marketing, merchandising and supply chain activities.
Organizational integration, according to Isaacs, is “critical to offering a high quality of customer service. Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than making them an offer and then being unable to fulfill their order. It is also a waste of marketing effort and funds, making it doubly damaging to the business. If marketing is working independently of merchandising and supply chain, there is a high risk of a misalignment and in a customer-centric business like ours, it is a risk we just can’t afford.”
As a cloud-based solution, Predictix can scale with the Direct Wines business as it evolves. “This flexibility enables us to configure a solution that meets the specific requirements of our business rather than having to shoehorn our business processes into a pre-configured package,” Isaacs said. “Finally, the Software-as-a-Service model helped minimize the up-front investment, creating a better alignment between expenditure and benefits.”
Over the past few months, the Predictix system has become fully operational, and has provided Direct Wines with “far deeper, more accurate visibility into our operations, and has been well received by our users across all functions,” Isaacs reported. “They find it intuitive and easy to use, which is another benefit of the configurability the Predictix platform offers.”
Focusing On The Customer Experience
In addition to selling individual bottles of wine, Direct Wines also strives to introduce customers to new labels through mixed cases, which offer a collection of wines that have similar characteristics tailored to individual tastes and preferences.
“This approach means our customers see us as knowledgeable advisors rather than simply suppliers,” Isaacs said. “We promote our offers across all channels to provide a coordinated customer experience.”
The Predictix suite of solutions offers Direct Wines real-time access to merchandise financial planning; improved creation and management of mixed wine offers; promotion planning; offer planning and demand planning.
Now, Direct Wines can ensure “coordination and visibility across functions so we can focus our time and investments on customer propositions we can deliver,” Isaacs said. “We are excited about the impact on our business and on customer satisfaction.”
Specifically, the retailer will be able to plan and execute offers that meet both revenue targets and fit within an overall marketing plan. Demand forecasts also will be provided, so Direct Wines can pinpoint global demand, and adjust assortment accordingly. Combining these two facets together, Direct Wines will be able to improve inventory planning, and ensure all offers and deals align with product availability.
“The planning elements of the solution allow us to create a global buying plan with more accurate volume estimates,” Isaacs said. “Some of our suppliers produce wines in relatively small quantities. Therefore it is essential that we have accurate visibility of stock during our offer creation process, so we can ensure availability and maintain our high customer service standards.”