Habitat's Internal IT Processes Receive Makeover from Sterling Commerce

As retailers around the world focus on demand planning to gain and retain customers, Habitat, the home furnishing retail giant, has turned to leading business integration company, Sterling Commerce, to help optimise its internal supply chain processes by improving stock replenishment.

A recent report from analyst house AMR Research predicts retailers worldwide will plan aggressive growth in overall technology budgets, averaging a 9.1 percent increase in 2004 over 2003. Among those retailers polled in the report, 60 percent plan either to upgrade or replace retail-planning applications. The improved integration between new pricing and promotion technologies should further the adoption of collaborative planning by retailers and suppliers.[1]

Habitat will implement Sterling Commerce's innovative business process integration software, Sterling Integrator, to streamline its own stock management processes and create greater visibility throughout its pan-European supply chain. The Sterling Integrator solution will enable Habitat to implement a more efficient stock replenishment system across its 72 stores in the UK, France, Germany and Spain. This will provide more accurate and up-to-the-minute order and sales information and eliminate the much-feared out-of-stock scenario.

Habitat previously operated disparate interfaces, operating platforms and data files, which were difficult to manage and led to high costs and poor visibility in the company's internal ordering and stock processes. The Sterling Integrator solution and its SAP Adaptor will be used by Habitat to integrate the company's new stock management application, TXT Demand Planner, with its existing SAP system.

Sterling Integrator will provide Habitat with a single tool to manage all its SAP interfaces and link applications and files into its ERP (enterprise resource planning) system - delivering more timely stock control and sales information than its current week-by-week view.

With more accurate and up-to-date order and stock information integrated into its demand planning system, Habitat will benefit from a greater understanding of its internal supply chain. Greater control of these processes will allow the company to more accurately forecast seasonal and geographical stock replenishment requirements and more effectively coordinate logistical lead times.

Yves Gauguier, IT Director, Habitat said: "Sterling Integrator is a sophisticated platform that offers Habitat a total integration solution. We are particularly impressed by the Sterling Commerce consulting team's expertise and knowledge of the retail sector and its understanding of our business process requirements, both now and moving forward. This understanding is evident in the way the Sterling Integrator adapters and graphical process modeler were developed by Sterling Commerce. They are easy-to-use and present a speedy mechanism for developing new interfaces into our SAP system as our business requirements grow in the future. Forecasting and planning demand is essential if we are to remain competitive. The excellence of the support provided by Sterling Commerce ensures it will remain first on our list of suppliers for critical IT solutions."

Roy Lee, vice president marketing EMEA, Sterling Commerce said: "Supply chain performance in major retailers is negatively affected by poor demand visibility and a lack of control over the cross-functional processes that are needed for rapid response to changing market conditions. By implementing a business processes integration solution, existing technology investments are optimised within the supply chain, so Habitat can achieve its business objective of improving supplier relations."

[1] 2004 Retail IT Budgeting Study by Scott Langdoc, Robert Garf, Fenella Scott - 29 April 2004, AMR Research

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