Design Within Reach chose to install the full application on-site rather than deploy the hosted option – largely because of the proprietary information it was collecting. JustEnough’s retail planning solution features three different modules –merchandise and assortment planning, markdown planning, and allocation and replenishment–that are generally phased in.
“The modules can be cohesive and dependent on each other, or they can be broken out per user need. The solution is very flexible,” says Marmulak.
Beyond that, JustEnough helped Design Within Reach by acting as a supply chain planning consultant–in effect implementing best practices and collaborating on decisions to improve business processes. In turn, there have been qualitative benefits such as better visibility to demand and inventory requirements. From a benchmarking perspective, Design Within Reach gained quantitative value simply by being able to gather and analyze historical data.
Since JustEnough’s solution went live in summer 2010, Design Within Reach has created a measure of consistency in its inventory management operations. Understanding demand trends, and replenishing against more accurate order data, enables the furniture retailer to increase turns and carry less inventory. It’s no longer a matter of collecting information. The emphasis now is on analyzing this data flow and making educated decisions.
“Accessing five or six different Excel spreadsheets, and consolidating and simplifying views, allows for more complicated analysis,” says Vogl. “If I want to know something, the data is there. It’s customizable to the individual. All users, across the enterprise, have their own custom views and filters.”
The solution also empowers departments to become more proactive in how they leverage this common data stream.
“Our business is highly promotionsdriven and we maintain an active calendar,” says Mazzanti. “When products drop off, we replace them with a different vendor. We link historical sales to a new product. And we share that information with different people in the organization.”
For example, Design Within Reach’s merchandising department has visibility to how well a certain product is selling, and can then align sales promotions accordingly. “It’s very infectious,” he adds.
Less than one year into the integration, Design Within Reach began reaping the full potential of greater demand-driven empowerment. There is still a learning curve, and collaboration is building, but the company is looking at its business in a much different way–as are its partners.
“We can deliver performance data to vendors and let them know what’s selling,” says Vogl. “It allows them to make proactive decisions.”
The ability to give vendors projections is key. They may not buy on that, but Design Within Reach can tell them what’s selling, which is a start. In the future, the company may be able to start evaluating vendors on their ability to supply inventory faster in a lean supply chain.
Opportunities to streamline business processes and transportation and logistics operations continue to materialize as the technology integrates further.
In terms of freight transportation on the import side, this level of granular data can help Design Within Reach max-load containers.
“There is also a major opportunity with domestic routing and longer lead times,” explains Vogl. “If we have vendors in Maine and New Hampshire, we can consolidate loads, marry lead times, and ship full truckloads instead of LTL from New England to the Midwest.”
Because furniture is a high pricepoint industry, inventory accuracy is at a premium. Every buy counts. Longer lead times mean significant dollars are tied up during transport. When mistakes happen, they are costly.
With more than enough information to accurately align inventory needs with demand patterns, Design Within Reach is finding increased efficiencies and economies within the organization and among external suppliers.