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Retail Technology, Retail technology News

JDA talks up customer engagement

Tuesday November 6 2012

  Supply chain supplier focuses on planning and execution with roadmap and RedPrairie merger, but can customers keep up, asks Miya Knights


Supply chain supplier focuses on planning and execution with roadmap and RedPrairie merger, but can customers keep up, asks Miya Knights


Days after announcing strategic merger plans, JDA has revealed it will focus its supply chain planning and execution development around customer engagement.


Matching supply to multichannel demand


The supply chain software vendor was keen to talk up its strategy to help retailers better match their planning and execution capabilities with multichannel customer demand at its European customer conference today in Barcelona.


It gathered industry protagonists to explain the thinking behind this strategy, while some of its customers were on hand to discuss its roadmap while sharing current share best practice.


Razat Gaurav JDA senior vice president in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), spoke exclusively to Retail Technology about the implications of last Thursday's announcement of the intended merger with warehousing and workforce management (WFM)  software vendor, RedPrairie.


"If you look at JDA's vision and what we've been trying to do for the last 10 years, as well as going forward, is to remain a leading provider of merchandising, supply chain and pricing solutions across the entire value chain - all the way from the way from the way you interface with the consumer, through to further upstream with manufacturing organisations," he said.


Gaurav said the JDA roadmap for growth - both organic and by virtue of acquisition - will continue to create an end-to-end capability in this space, while admitting a lack of warehousing and task management functionality that the RedPrairie merger will deliver.


Complimentary not competitive vision


"We are not envisaging getting into the ERP [enterprise resource planning] or HR [human resources] space," he added. "We support the SAPs and Oracles of this world with the specialised decision support capabilities that we bring to the table."


The company is hoping this layer of retail 'intelligence' will help retailers better manage multichannel change, to engage the more digitally empowered consumer who may often know more about a product and its pricing than a sales associate. "Segmenting customers and selling to them intelligently will be key for profitability in online channels going forward particularly," Gaurav said.


A requirement to better engage with customers was certainly a trend reflected by some of the JDA retail customers sharing best practice at the event. But very few were in a position to yet put the customer at the centre of their supply chain execution when stock efficiencies and on-shelf availability still need improvement first.


Matching space management with demand


US department store retailer Sears has been using JDA merchandising systems for nearly a decade. But Amy Higgins, Sears Vice President of space management and analytics, said: "We want to connect with our customers in an 'omnichannel' world. But being able to deliver on that vision relies on being space aware, to connect customers with the items they want as quickly as possible."


Using JDA planograms to optimise inventory and space management at the shelf, had helped improve availability by 1% across Sears' 2,600-strong store estate group, Higgins added. 


Having begun to implement JDA Fulfilment three years ago, Oriflame is also enjoying the benefits of a supply chain that is not only better aligned to customer demand, but also the 3.3 million consultants who sell its beauty products direct to the consumer. "Inventory has been reduced by 30%, which released some 1million in cashflow," said Didier Jourdan, Oriflame vice president of planning.


Prioritising strategic supply plans  


Reporting that demand planning would be the next area of focus, Jourdan confirmed that the Swedish cosmetics firm would likely evaluate JDA Collaborate and RedPrairie among others. "But, in the case of JDA, this may be an extension of our existing deployment of the suite," he added.


Paul Longshaw, Iceland senior systems analyst, explained that the UK High Street chain became the first user of JDA's E3 replenishment software in the UK nearly 20 years  ago, driving its development through his position as a Special Interest Group chair. 


"We're proud of the fact that we've always pushed the boundaries of the system," said Longshaw. But he suggested that developing its existing product portfolio, rather than focusing on upselling on its latest vision was what its core customer base preferred.


"We're looking for more forward thinking and what the next steps are in the E3 roadmap," he concluded.


Under the terms of the JDA RedPrairie merger agreement announced 1 November, the WFM's private equity owner put forward cash tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of JDA common stock for $45 (28.16) per share. 


The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2012 subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals.