Building a Better Brand

Popular Euro retailer NFI Empik Media & Fashion Group (EM&F) is a one-stop destination for media, children's goods, education, franchise fashion and perfumery. It operates more than 590 retail and service outlets across Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany under the brand concepts Empik, SMYK and Empik Cafe, and has ambitious plans to continue expansion throughout Europe.

In 2007, EM&F identified it lacked effective planning and forecasting capabilities to support its expansion strategy. In response, EM&F implemented Oracle Retail planning applications to provide a unified approach to planning and forecasting and support the growth and internationalization of its business. EM&F deployed Oracle Retail within six months and has since benefited from standardizing and centralizing planning and forecasting processes. Other key benefits the retailer has achieved include improved markdown management, increased open-to-buy and lifecycle planning and the ability to make commercial decisions based on real-time data.

"Our strategy is to maintain double-digit growth over the next few years, but these expansion plans bring challenges in terms of managing our retail and service outlets," says Dairuz Stolarczyk, COO and director of operations and logistics,  EM&F. "The creation of a best practice approach has enabled us to build a unified view of the planning and forecasting processes at SMYK and centrally manage them."

Today, the retailer uses Oracle Retail to manage assortments of hardline and softline categories. EM&F also uses the system to help determine inventory requirements at the item and location level, while promoting the allocation of the right quantities of products to individual SMYK stores.

"Insight into the allocation of goods is helping us improve customer satisfaction by matching appropriate stock levels to customer demand and minimizing lost sales and overstocking," says Stolarczyk. "Since implementing the Oracle Retail planning applications, we've become more proactive in our approach to the management of our markdowns at SMYK. The lack of visibility to accurate and real-time data meant we were reactive in our approach, but we are now able to identify the success of particular markdown campaigns over others."

According to Stolarczyk, "planning processes can be based on several hundred indicators. If a retailer operates only a few stores, it is possible to manage this. When you're expanding to the level our business is, this no longer becomes viable. The trick is to make processes as consistent as possible and to choose a fewer number of significant indexes upon which we can make decisions. Oracle Retail has helped us revise our traditional processes and develop capabilities that support our whole business."

In addition to the Oracle Retail planning applications, EM&F implemented Oracle Siebel to provide business intelligence for its retail business. Within five weeks of implementation, EM&F gained valuable information and reported commercial, store and product successes.
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