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Cosy fit for JDA and Red Prairie

09 April 2014

The merger of Red Prairie and JDA Software has created a wide-ranging IT offering for retail (and other) clients. HSS editor Simon Duddy talks to JDA group vice president Andrew Kirkwood about how the combined company can help retailers with the Omni-channel challenge.

It has been around 18 months since JDA Software and Red Prairie merged into one entity and the coming together has been a fascinating process, says JDA group vice president Andrew Kirkwood.

"Red Prairie helps JDA see exactly how planning can be executed throughout the supply chain,” says Andrew. "And JDA’s demand planning tools bring greater flexibility to Red Prairie’s supply chain execution.

"A  good illustration of this is: in the old days when the Red Prairie system could not fulfill an order management back in the DC would simply be informed of this and would have to take a decision. 

"Now the JDA tools can dynamically re-prioritise in real time, and seek the most efficient way to fulfill the order.”

Many retailers have traditionally used JDA applications for things like demand planning, merchandising, and store replenishment. Likewise, many retailers have traditionally used RedPrairie for supply chain execution and warehouse management, for example. Combined, the retailers can now access an end-to-end raft of functionality.

Andrew explains: "You will see the warehouse change over time, becoming much more optimised. We are trying to help customers build a distribution-centric supply chain.”

JDA counts ASOS and Marks and Spencer among its UK retail customers, tackling a wide scope of challenges.

Andrew explains: "We seek to optimise processes, and for the grocers that tends to be mean working on productivity. In fashion it’s more about guaranteeing product availability and providing the customer with a high level of service.”

Arguably retail’s most precious currency is reputation. While control of the shopping journey has shifted to the consumer though the online revolution, retailers are utilising IT to control the integrity of their brands – from product selection, quality and availability to delivery. If they can anticipate customer desires, shorten the time to market, optimise interactions, and streamline the order life cycle, they can manage their brand integrity.

A key part of this is managing returns, which forms part of the JDA portfolio.

"You will see the warehouse change over time, becoming much more optimised. We are trying to help customers build a distribution-centric supply chain.”

Andrew says: "This is where our management really helps. As we combine demand planning and forecasting with WMS and transportation software, we have higher visibility and can help customers make better decisions, whether it is a downstream order or a return.

"The key thing with returns processing is using the item as quickly as possible, whether it is selling it in store (in the case of return-to-store), or pushing it back into the supply chain.”

JDA is also helping bricks and mortar retailers adapt their strategy in the Omni-channel environment. In-store fulfillment is a part of this.

"The decline in the stores themselves and rising volumes through online fuflillment are uncomfortable trends for many retailers. The cost of delivering from the warehouse to the home is a huge problem. Fulfilling an order online is about three times more expensive than fulfilling an order from store. Where does it end? You can’t just keep building more DCs.”

Part of the answer for this has been a trend for retailers to use Click & Collect to push online customers to the stores. But the problem remains of supplying single items to the store to fulfill the order, especially if the retailer already has the item in stock.

This where JDA comes in. It helps the Omni-channel retailer have visibility right across the supply chain so an order can be fulfilled from stock in store or from the warehouse, whichever is most efficient.

There is also a knock-on staff issue, because store-based employees have got to be aware of the online element and be able to help customers get what they want. Ideally, they will also be able to use the opportunity to make further sales.

"We’ve taken the art of selling out of the store employees to some extent,” says Andrew. "We are now trying to skill it back up again and create a shopping experience. JDA can help because of the usability of the software, we’ve built a system that employees can use easily without a lot of training.

"We are using our store picking solution, our execution planning software and our in-store labour management software, to make this a seamless process.”

This suite of software solutions puts JDA at the heart of the Omni-channel strategy, whereby bricks and mortar retailers are grappling with online, while also utilising their physical stores as much as possible to add to the customer experience and ultimately drive sales.