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Customer Webcast: Learn 3 Ways to Strengthen the Heart of Your Merchandising Operations

Amber Leith
Head of Global Marketing

John Lewis & Partners Webcast - The Foundations of Moving to a Single View of Inventory

Catch the replay of our retailer webcast as, Rachel Callan, Partner & Senior Strategy Manager and Susan Young, Partner & Head Of Merchandising, Strategy of John Lewis & Partners, describe their Oracle Retail Merchandising implementation journey. You may recall a previous post - How Healthy is the Heart of Your Retail Operations? - which discusses how retailers often view merchandising as the heart of their retail operations. See how in the course of a large-scale implementation centered around Oracle Retail Merchandising System and Oracle Retail Price Management, the UK retailer John Lewis & Partners has streamlined processes and set the stage for a more agile, data-driven future.

Based in London, John Lewis & Partners has 36 department stores across the UK, along with 12 John Lewis at Home shops, a store in St. Pancras railway station, and another at Heathrow Airport, along with johnlewis.com. They operate in three different categories, fashion apparel and accessories, home furnishings and accessories, and consumer electronics, each of which contributes roughly a third of total revenues; 45% of the business comes from online sales. 

Looking for a Path to the Future

For years John Lewis & Partners has been completing an enterprise-wide overhaul of its systems and processes, with a goal of providing a single view, and consequently better management, of the company’s inventory. The overall project, code-named Pioneer, has a three-part goal:

  1. Standardize inconsistent processes
  2. Replace legacy systems with industry-standard solutions
  3. Clean up the company’s data

Once existing data is cleansed, the John Lewis & Partners team will implement a data governance system to ensure that it remains clean. “We’ve got a really clear strategy of how we’re going to simplify this,” Callan said, “and we are on course.” The project will impact the retailer’s more than 15 systems currently used to manage stock counting across its branches.

All of this, said Callan, will reduce the amount of time it takes for the company to launch new products. “We’ll have fewer touch points in the process of creating a product and managing price and data quality, which I think is the Holy Grail everybody wants at the moment.”

Transition from Being a Supertanker

When changing the way item data is managed, said Callan and Young, there is no other way to implement than to do it across the board: it’s all or nothing. But a major source of challenges to implementation has been the sheer complexity John Lewis & Partner’s merchandise categories, including two areas, fashion and home, in which the brand creates a large number of its own products. It is also employee-owned; staff members are referred to not as associates but partners, and they tend to take a proprietary interest in maintaining traditions.

Among which are legacy systems, some of which are 30 or 40 years old and were written to “fix” processes that have become obsolete. “We wanted to move to something that is much more industry-standard, and that is scalable for the future,” said Callan.

Listen to the webcast to hear more about John Lewis & Partners journey to a single view of inventory. 

3 Ways to Strengthen the Heart of Your Merchandising Operations

1. Standardize relationships with your suppliers. They’re the source of a vast amount of the data you need within your business. Figure out what you want to know and ask all of them for it in the same way.  

2. Put a data governance team in place. It takes a huge effort to clean up bad and inconsistent data. Once that’s done, make sure you have a system and people, focused on keeping it clean going forward.

3. Reward successes. Recognizing positive contributions can have a tremendous effect both on team-building and forward momentum.


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