This article was originally published on Retail Times.
Co-op is set to extend the roll-out of its transformational IT programme to all its stores this month (October) in a move designed to further improve the planning and allocation of space in stores, increase availability, reduce waste and, foster greater collaboration throughout the supply chain.
The four-year programme has consolidated more than 30 legacy systems into just three which are better equipped to adapt to changing market conditions, while supporting the future growth ambitions of Co-op.
Following a 217 store pilot, the latest phase of the project will now see the capability rolled-out to over 2,600 Co-op stores plus using it to serve more than 1,300 further stores operated by independent co-operative societies.
Before the year-end, the paperware category will migrate to the new platform, with pizza and salad categories expected to follow. The roll-out will continue, category by category, until next summer when it is expected to include over 19,200 products and more than 1,100 suppliers.
The programme saw Co-op introduce JDA supply chain software and ranging tools in 2018 – building a more precise picture of local customer behaviour so it can tailor its store layouts and better anticipate demand. This was followed by the introduction of SAP technology to improve ranging, stock holding, availability, and more accurate forecasting information and, concluded with the introduction of a new cloud-based supplier collaboration portal, Co-op Connect.
Rolling-out the new systems enables Co-op to increase agility and respond more quickly through enhanced forecasting and replenishment processes. While improved inventory management and the development of more tailored, local, ranges also enhance the customer experience.
The greater transparency, data flow and forecasting also enriches the information available to suppliers to make production decisions, further deepening and building supplier relationships which is core to Co-op’s approach.
Andy Phelps, retail business transformation programme director, Co-op, said: “The first phases of our work provided the foundation for an advanced retail supply chain strategy designed to drive increased consumer experience and choice through improved availability and faster, better, retail decision making. We see our relationship with suppliers as a partnership approach, and this investment enables Co-op to deepen those relationships. We have worked closely with our supplier network to gather feedback and test the system, and their input has been invaluable in developing the technology we are now in a position to deploy. The improved data, transparency and collaboration facilitates the anticipation of shopper needs, providing a robust mechanism with which to respond with agility, accuracy and speed – enabling Co-op to provide what our customers want conveniently, when and where they need it.”
Co-op worked closely with its supplier network, testing the technology and gathering feedback during the developmental stage and pilot. Gwyn Rosser, Head of Sales at Kimberly-Clark, said: Kimberly-Clark was pleased to support the Co-op with the pilot of their technology upgrade. As a result we now believe that with the deployment of its JDA systems, the Co-op has the ability to tailor customer and store assortments as well as anyone else in UK retail. By combining this with SAP the Co-op has now extended their excellent ability to range, to their ability to accurately forecast and replenish. This combination makes them not only an incredibly efficient trading partner, but also very exciting one in terms of future potential.”
Image via Co-op