Intelligent Inventory

Clarks Companies N.A., manufactures and markets more than 10 million pairs of shoes each year. Although it is one of the largest footwear companies in the world, Clarks continues to grow, with a particular focus on increasing the number of retail stores. Even as it grows, the company must continue to ensure that retail stores are fully stocked and inventory is available when needed. "We required a tool that would allow us to centralize data from different sources," says Stephen Katsirubas, vice president of information systems at The Clarks Companies.

In 1997 the company embarked on a system replacement project, to replace all proprietary, internally built software with best-of-breed packages. The retailer selected Business Objects software to complement a new Oracle database solution.

"There was a gap between the packages and the reporting infrastructure," says Katsirubas. "The business intelligence software fills that void." The tools enable the retailer to monitor the performance of more than 3,500 retail partners and 165 retail stores throughout North America and Puerto Rico.

Using the solutions to track, analyze and manage information from its i2, Retek, Manhattan Associates PkMS, Oracle and other supply chain systems, the Clarks' sales force accesses Business Objects' Web Intelligence to gain real-time visibility into inventory availability.

Using a company wide intranet, sales executives also can access account information, such as order bookings and sales to date, as well as operational reports to learn where shipments are located and when they are expected to arrive at a customer's store.

More than one million units are in process at manufacturing plants around the world at any given time. Clarks' sourcing department uses the business intelligence tool to monitor a shipment's progress from factory floor until it ships. Then, the logistics division monitors inbound shipments so Clarks' executives know when the product will be received.

"The solution has helped decrease the IT resources needed to provide pertinent information to our employees," says Katsirubas. The technology empowers users and encourages them to take a more hands-on approach to the information they want to access and how they want it presented.

"Our sales force can pull critical information specific to each customer account at any given time of day," says Katsirubas. "That access not only increases our profitability, but also improves the interaction between our organization and our customer."

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