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Reitmans’ IT Transformation

Canadian fashion retailer supports growth with new platform

Much has changed at Reitmans (Canada) Ltd. over its 85-year history as the company has grown into one of the country’s largest fashion retailers, whose seven banners operate a total of more than 950 stores. But what hasn’t changed is Reitmans’ mission to remain nimble and responsive to consumer demand and customer service. When an aging legacy-based operating system threatened to halt growth across its enterprise, including ordering, fulfillment, merchandising and assortment planning processes, Reitmans decided to transition to an open platform that could support its overall supply chain and help to optimize operations.


Over the past five years, the company launched an overhaul of business processes and systems, which it internally refers to as the Supply Chain Optimization Retail Enterprise program, or SCORE. The mission is to improve efficiency and create a foundation for continued growth. This includes a new focus on the deployment and integration of best-in-class retail applications to streamline enterprise-wide processes and eliminate errors and redundancy.


Reitmans broke the effort into two parts. The supply chain optimization (SCO) vision centers on providing the distribution center with the tools needed to improve efficiency and service levels to stores, while the retail enterprise (RE) division focuses on improving retail and merchandising processes to increase efficiency and inventory visibility. 


The company chose to tackle the SCO piece first, believing this would provide the company “the greatest value as a whole,” said Diane Randolph, CIO, Reitmans, Montreal, during a presentation at the Oracle Retail CrossTalk conference earlier this year.


The company’s warehouse remains at the core of the SCO project. While its outbound operations are completely automated, inbound processes remain manual. By transitioning to the integrated suite of Oracle Retail Merchandising, Planning and Supply Chain Optimization applications, Reitmans will strengthen its purchasing and replenishment, inventory and finance, and pricing and promotion operations. The functionality of a new Oracle user interface will orchestrate workflow to help users make better business decisions. 


“We are looking forward to being more efficient in our distribution center and the opportunities that brings,” Randolph said. “The solution provides our head office teams with greater visibility into data, which is going to allow them to focus on better ways to service our customers.”


One of the key elements that will initially impact the company will be the ability to do better price promotions.


“Today, that needs to be executed at stores,” Randolph said. “Being able to manage this process at the head office will give greater efficiencies to the buyers, marketers, stores and, ultimately, our customers.”


The company completed the first phase of the implementation, which included the integration of the platform with warehouse management, supply chain intelligence, labor management and its vendor compliance program, earlier this year. 


“This is considered the ‘foundation’ stage,” Randolph explained. “It includes transitioning all data from an older Retek merchandising system to the new operating system. With the database populated, it can now support the warehouse and retail management systems.”


Initially, this phase will help Reitmans streamline its e-commerce fulfillment, just-in-time pre-allocation and vendor collaboration operations. E-commerce went live in the first division of stores in June, and the second division began supporting e-commerce this fall. 


“Vendor collaboration and pre-allocation will also be live by the fall,” Randolph reported. “The entire warehouse will be live on the new platform by the end of December.”


During the next phase, the company will focus on integrating the enterprise’s invoice matching, price management, trade management and financials processes. It expects to complete this phase by August 2012.


The final phase, which will follow immediately, will involve rolling out all new functionality to all seven banners, and switching off the functionality of its existing Retek operating system. At this point, the retailer will be able to provide its stores more visibility into inbound shipments.

© 2014