Creating a better retail experience for customers

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Winn-Dixie sells a range of groceries and produce at its 500-plus stores across the South eastern states of America. The company operates six distribution centers and three manufacturing plants, and is investing in hundreds of new own-label products as well as a store-remodeling program. Winn-Dixie gets groceries to customers faster by enhancing Workload Automation and systems monitoring.

To ensure it stocks the right products in its stores and can authorize customers payments, Winn-Dixie must process thousands of real-time transactions every day. These transactions are underpinned by the companys mainframe and server environment, which is also critical to the product pricing process.

To ensure its systems can meet the service level agreements demanded by the business, Winn-Dixie has deployed Workload Automation and Dynamic and Virtual Systems Management solutions from CA. These solutions provide Winn-Dixie with a centralized and real-time view of thousands of IT jobs and have helped to speed up the resolution of mainframe issues by 100 percent.

Winn-Dixie has been able to reduce business downtime, which means it can ensure that products are priced accurately, store stock levels are maintained and customer payments authorized. All these factors help to improve the retail experience and contribute to Winn-Dixies competitive advantage.

Business: Creating a better retail experience for customers

Winn-Dixie operates more than 500 stores across Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia Mississippi in the USA. Its stores stock grocery, meat, seafood, produce, deli, bakery, floral, health and beauty, and other general merchandise items.

Since emerging from Chapter 11 at the end of 2006, the company is focused on rebuilding trust in its brand, investing in its stores and generating profitable sales. The companys ultimate goal is to be a leading neighbourhood grocer in every market that it serves. achieve this objective and compete with other supermarket chains, Winn-Dixie needs able to provide customers with great products and great service in a fast, friendly and fresh environment. The company has already embarked on a major store-remodelling program also investing in its corporate brands program, with the target of having at least 1,000 new product types on store shelves by the end of FY2008.

Challenge: Maintaining the right level of stock at the right price

To ensure both its own private-label products and national brands are constantly available stores, Winn-Dixie operates six distribution centres as well as three manufacturing plants. The distribution centres are at the hub of the companys supply chain and each year ship millions of products to Winn-Dixies stores, which also encompass more than 450 pharmacies and liquor outlets. Daily sales breakdowns provided to the companys management team as well as stock reports help to determine which products should be shipped from the distribution centre to each. This information is captured and processed by the companys IT infrastructure, which also plays a key role in billing, buying, product pricing and authorizing customer payments. Dennis Horne, IT Systems Engineer for Winn-Dixie, comments, If our IT systems go down, means we cant update product barcodes, verify customer payments or offer self-checkout facilities. The business is reliant on our ability to process transactions in real-time: if IT stops, our stores stop.

With IT playing such a critical role in the retail experience, many of Winn-Dixies core business processes are subject to stringent service level agreements (SLAs). To ensure these SLAs met, Winn-Dixies IT department must be able to ensure the availability and performance core systems, which include an IBM mainframe and more than 200 blade servers. Both the mainframe and server farm process an average of 5,000 jobs per day these can include paying grocery suppliers, updating product pricing codes, sending stock requirements the distribution centers and collating store sales data. If any of these critical processes interrupted, then there could be a negative impact on Winn-Dixie and its customers.

We need to be able to quickly identify any disruption to our IT systems and their workloads and schedules, comments Horne. If a problem on the mainframe or a server goes unnoticed, then it could disrupt an important business process or application and cost the company thousands of dollars.

To ensure it has sufficient visibility of its core systems, Winn-Dixie has been using the CA Workload Automation solution for five years. CA ESP Workload Automation enables Winn-Dixie to define, monitor, control, manage and integrate the workload of both its mainframe and distributed server environment through a single platform.

The CA solution replaced two disparate and database-driven Workload Automation
management tools, which prevented Winn-Dixie from viewing IT jobs centrally and in real time. Now the company can monitor not only the scheduling of internal processes but also external transactions with suppliers and banks. CA ESP Workload Automation provides us with a single pane of glass and helps us manage IT jobs more efficiently, comments Horne. Workload Automation is probably the most critical application for Winn-Dixie and ensures the seamless operation of our stores and supply chain.

As well as ensuring that pre-defined business processes are executed in line with SLAs, CA ESP Workload Automation also enables Winn-Dixie managers to schedule specific IT jobs, such as creating a stock report for different product lines.
Using the solutions Web interface, managers are able to create bespoke reports without having to involve the IT team, comments Horne. This has not only freed up IT resources but also reduced the time it takes to generate some management reports by as much as half. Mainframe problems resolved 100 percent faster.

To further enhance the performance of its mainframe, Winn-Dixie also uses the CA Dynamic and Virtual Systems Management solution. CA-OPS/MVS Event Management and Automation helps ensure that any mainframe problems are quickly identified and resolved. Instead of just capturing event messages, the CA solution alerts us to a problem and the remediation required, comments Horne. We can also monitor started tasks and identify if a job finishes outside of normal parameters.

The CA solution has simplified event management to such an extent that Horne estimates a 100 percent improvement in the IT teams response time to mainframe problems.

Results: An enhanced retail experience for customers

By resolving mainframe problems faster and improving Workload Automation, Winn-Dixie is able to safeguard the continuity of its core business processes. This has a direct impact on the companys efficiency and the operations of its stores.

For example, by using the CA Workload Automation and CA Dynamic and Virtual Systems Management solutions, Winn-Dixie is able to ensure that:

New product prices are applied promptly
Customer payment transactions are seamlessly authorized
Stores receive new stock on time

As Horne confirms, CAs solutions have helped to minimize the risk of disruption to our customers and the financial impact of business downtime. We can get groceries on to our shelves faster and ensure that they are priced accurately.
In particular, the retailer is able to guarantee the distribution of daily sales figures to senior executives. We need to ensure that each store files its sales report at the close of business every day. CA ESP Workload Automation notifies us if the process is not completed correctly, which means we can follow it up with the store and resolve any problems, comments Horne.

Access to this sales data is vital for making business decisions and contributes to cost control and competitive advantage. Winn-Dixies ability to compete with other retailers is also enhanced by the fact that it can commit more IT resources to strategic projects. We have been able to reassign IT resources from systems monitoring to assisting with the development of new applications. This means we will be able to continue to enhance the neighbourhood shopping experience and provide a fast and flexible service to customers, adds Horne.

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