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SAP Sapphire: 99 Cents Only, Adidas leverage SAP solutions for data access

BY Dan Berthiaume

Commerce, Calif. and Herzogenaurach, Germany — At the recent SAP Sapphire 2014 conference, 99 Cents Only Stores and Adidas AG both detailed how they are using different SAP solutions in different ways for the same ultimate goal – increased accessibility and transparency of data.

99 Cents Only is in the midst of an ongoing SAP enterprise rollout, in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Tata Consultancy Services, that began with a switchover of its POS and merchandise management software to SAP modules in 2010. This allowed the retailer to combine master merchandise data with core transaction data on a single platform, easing price changes and allowing more flexible margin growth.

“Our true vision is integrating ERP with financials,” Dan Dobson, director of business portfolio planning 99 Cents Only, told the audience at a Sapphire session.

To that end, 99 Cents Only is in the process of rolling out core merchandising, inventory management, and finance applications from SAP. Ultimately, the retailer intends to send sales data from its 2 billion annual transactions through the SAP POS Data Management application to the cloud-based SAP HANA analytical platform.

“Once we’re live in the back office, the stress will be in uploading physical inventory information from the stores,” said Dobson. “We will have to either update employee handhelds or retrofit the existing hardware to work with SAP.”

In another session, Kai Bienmuller, manager Adidas Group, explained how his company is upgrading from the SAP Apparel Footwear Solution (AFS) to the new SAP Fashion Management Solution (FMS). FMS is a vertical wholesale, manufacturing and retail solution that aims to bring all business operations onto a single platform powered by SAP Hana, initially announced in January 2014.

“Consumers want anything, anytime, as soon as possible,” said Bienmuller. “We want to go to an individualized approach. We want to plan around seasons, away from batch processing to real-time allocation.”

Adidas will roll out one instance of FMS for the wholesale and retail operations of its Adidas and Reebok brands in 70% of markets where it does business in the next two-and-a-half years.

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OPERATIONS

NRF: Labor fears drive higher retail imports

BY Staff Writer

Washington, D.C. — Import volume at major U.S. container ports is expected to increase 7.5% in June as retailers bring unusually high quantities of merchandise into the country early to avoid any potential disruptions after the labor contract with West Coast dockworkers expires. According to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, in June U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker are expected to handle 1.46 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU), up 7.5% year-over-year.

One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent. May was estimated at 1.47 million TEU, up 5.8% from the same month the prior year. In April, the most recent month for after-the-fact numbers, major U.S. container ports handled 1.43 million TEU, up 10.3% year-over-year.

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.43 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in April, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. The number was up 9.9% from March and 10.3% from April 2013. One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent.

July is forecast at an even-higher 1.51 million TEU, up 4.4% from last year; August at 1.52 million TEU, up 1.9%; September at 1.45 million TEU, up 0.8%; and October at 1.48 million TEU, up 3.4%.

The first half of the year is expected to total 8.3 million TEU, up 6.5% from the first half of 2013. The total for 2013 was 16.2 million TEU, up 2.3% from 2012’s 15.8 million TEU.

The import numbers come as NRF is forecasting 4.1% sales growth in 2014. Cargo volume does not correlate directly with sales but is a barometer of retailers’ expectations.

The Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union began negotiations last month on a new contract to replace the agreement that expires June 30. NRF has urged both sides to avoid any disruptions that could affect the flow of back-to-school or holiday merchandise.
West Coast ports handle more than two-thirds of U.S. retail container cargo, including the bulk of cargo from Asia. The last major coast-wide shutdown there occurred in the fall of 2002, closing ports for 10 days and creating a months-long backlog to be cleared.

“We don’t want to see disruptions at the ports but retailers are making sure they are prepared in case that happens,” said NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold. “Whether it’s bringing cargo in early or other contingency plans, retailers will keep the shelves stocked for the back-to-school and holiday seasons.”

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Walmart.ca nabs award for groundbreaking consumer responsiveness

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart continues accelerating its e-commerce strategy with Walmart Canada’s online store, walmart.ca, and now has an award to show for its efforts.

The website has won the Retail council of Canada Excellence in e-commerce award for providing groundbreaking customer responsiveness. The award was presented this week at the by the Retail Council of Canada at its 2014 Store Conference and recognizes walmart.ca as the first fully, responsively designed e-commerce site offered by a major Canadian retailer.

According to Simon Rodrigue, Walmart Canada’s VP and gm for e-commerce, the new walmart.ca uses best-in-class technology to provide customers with a completely seamless shopping experience across all devices, from smartphones and tablets to traditional desktops and laptop computers.

"Today’s connected consumers demand an easily accessible and highly relevant shopping experience, anytime, anywhere, across any device." said Rodrigue. "Our solution was to provide an experience that bridges the gap between the online, in-store and on-the-go-shopping experience. The newly designed site is the result of a global collaboration between Walmart Canada’s e-commerce team, Walmart’s Global e-commerce team, and global design and technology consultancy, Nurun."

According to Rick Neuman, director of site experience for Walmart Canada, the new site has surpassed expectations in growing Walmart’s online customer base, improving customer satisfaction with the online shopping experience, and driving increased operational efficiencies.

"Walmart.ca drove a customer conversion rate of more than 20 percent in the first four weeks after the launch," said Neuman. "Since going live in October the site has also seen a 98% increase in mobile orders, a 36 percent decrease in average page load times, and a three point lift in customer satisfaction."

Additional features of the new walmart.ca include:

  • Integrated inventory systems that allow shoppers to see up-to-the-moment product availability and pricing, both online and at their four nearest bricks and mortar Walmart stores.
  • Auto-localization technology that helps shoppers easily find information about their local (or preferred) store, including local store hours, flyers and pricing.
  • To reassure customers there will be no hidden costs or surprises at checkout, estimated taxes, shipping costs and delivery dates are calculated and displayed to customers within a push-down shopping cart.
  • A unified cart and checkout that provides registered walmart.ca shoppers with the ability to start a purchase on their desktops and later complete their transactions on a mobile or tablet device, saving time and reducing cart abandonment.
  • A distraction free, single-screen checkout experience designed with touch devices in mind and improves conversion for tablet and mobile shoppers. Smart address auto-complete and postal code detection eliminates the time-consuming need for customers to enter all shipping information.

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