Retailers are seeking more cost efficient ways for IT staff members to track and manage operations and system updates. This efficiency particularly is essential for retailers utilizing overnight shift teams to manage and integrate inventory data, often manually, from e-Commerce sites and brick-and-mortar locations.
To help decrease costs and improve efficiencies, French Connection ― an apparel designer, manufacturer and distributor ― implemented the SAP Sales and Distribution Central Process Scheduling and Cronacle solutions from Redwood, an enterprise scheduling and process automation provider. In doing so, the brand improved reliability of global stock replenishment processes with automated, round-the-clock systems integration of POS data from stores in the U.S., U.K. and online. The implementation ultimately resulted in improved end-user experiences, Claire Joel, Head of IT for French Connection U.K., told Retail TouchPoints. It also has allowed the company to eliminate the overnight shift and reassign that budget to extend help desk hours.
The process “helped us obtain a single view of e-Commerce and store sales,” Joel said, “and helped us assure that a single stock pull can be made at all times, with products always available to consumers across channels.”
Acknowledging the continual growth of omni-channel browsing and buying behaviors, French Connection “strives to ensure that our stores worldwide have access to stock whenever they need it,” Joel added. “Instant product availability has had a huge impact on the customer experience: By consolidating that extra stock pull, our customers have access to stock at any point in time, which I think is key for retailers today.”
In addition to ensuring shoppers have access to stock at any time and through multiple channels, French Connection leverages the Redwood platform to consolidate top-selling products and overall margins across digital and physical locations, Joel reported, which provides retail merchandisers with an end-to-end view. “We want to look at e-Commerce and brick-and-mortar as one unified business, which integrated e-Commerce back-end and SAP systems allows us to do.”
French Connection also has improved business agility: Initially, the brand relied on IT team members to check manually for data arriving from its online and in-store POS systems then intervene if technical issues occurred. Among the overnight tasks required, system back-ups took the team seven hours to complete. Automation was sorely needed, Joel explained, to improve efficiency and reduce labor costs.
Real-time event-driven job automation has made it easier for French Connection, which turned to Redwood in 2010, to manage scheduling requirements and automate overnight and daytime processing, as well as weekend reporting. SAP Central Process Scheduling also delivers automated SMS messages to alert staff on task completion. If a message isn’t sent, the support team knows that a problem must be addressed.