Magazine Article | January 18, 2007

Task Management Software Gets Retailer's Stores In Sync

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

Dick’s Sporting Goods, Inc. uses task management software to provide consistency and control in its 294 stores.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, February 2007

Dick's Sporting Goods, Inc. Manager of Operations Information Jim Will was intrigued when he read the article about Home Depot's plan to implement a technology solution to improve communications between the corporate office and the stores (see Home Depot article in Integrated Solutions for Retailers, June 2004). Could a similar solution work for the sporting goods chain, Will wondered?

Back in 2004, the Pittsburgh-based sporting goods retailer had grown to about 150 stores. As the chain grew, so did the problem of keeping stores up-to-date on information sent from the corporate office through a combination of e-mail, snail mail, phone, and intranet.

According to Will, there wasn't an accurate way to predict if operational tasks (e.g. store-to-store transfers, returns to vendors, sign package/planogram setup, store promotions, surveys) sent from the corporate office were received by the correct store-level managers or if the information was being acted upon at all.

Planograms, in particular, were one of Will's biggest concerns. Dick's  often discovered, too late, that planograms were incorrect because of poor execution or missing signs and fixtures. As a result, the stores lacked consistency in how its five separate departments looked. According to Will, this led to lost sales and lost credit for vendor returns since the chain was unable to track and move merchandise from store to store.

To help improve its growing communications problem, Dick's brought in software vendors Reflexis Systems, Inc. and Store Perform in July 2004. After numerous demonstrations and conference calls, the project was essentially dropped for almost a year when Dick's moved to acquire another company.

In March 2006, the retailer made the decision to go with Reflexis and its Web-based Retail Execution Management System. The Reflexis software features RetailAction Manager for task management and RetailAction LaborScheduler for task-driven labor forecasting.

Prepping Staff Speeds Implementation
The 20-month sales cycle took much longer than the 14-week software implementation, which included training time. Dick's trained a total of 2,700 district managers, assistants, regional vice presidents, and other corporate employees on the new task management system. There would be no pilot phase. Instead, the new system would be turned on in 268 stores at one time.

"We had a user group identified within the stores and the corporate office that we kept in touch with during the process," explained Melinda Geiger, senior project manager at Dick's. "Some of them had used similar applications in previous positions, which was helpful."

In addition, because the software is Web-based, there were no installation issues, making for a relatively smooth implementation, according to Geiger. The Reflexis software allows the chain to consistently manage product recalls, promotions, workloads, and store resets between locations.

"Before, we didn't know that we were asking too much of some stores," said Geiger. "Now, we can better assign a time frame for a project, such as floor setup, and we are starting to put processes in place to control workload."

Since the software's installation, Will adjusted the planogram calendar based on store feedback, something he could not have done in the past. "We've had suggestions with minor tweaks to make the software work better in our environment," Will noted. "Most of what Reflexis has built for us will be available for other users."

Geiger expects to realize more benefits in six months as the chain continues to use the software, but says there has been a noticeable decrease in the amount of duplicated work and a dramatic decrease in e-mail.

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