Kathmandu Outgrows Small-Retailer Status With JustEnough

Founded 25 years ago, Kathmandu has grown from a small retailer of outdoor clothing and equipment to "a global brand that designs trusted outdoor gear so our customers can live their dreams of travel and adventure," says CIO Jolann Van Dyk. Paying attention to customer demand has helped Kathmandu grow into a vertically-integrated business that operates 158 stores across New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom, and a growing e-commerce channel. With an eye on expansion, the company is scoping out international markets such as North America and Europe.

Not long ago, it became evident that existing legacy systems were no longer able to deliver against its business growth strategies, said CIO Jolann Van Dyk. "Systems were either too slow, required significant time and effort to perform basic day-to-day tasks, [were] rigid, unsupported or just antiquated." More specifically, these solutions didn't support systemized forecasting and planning. Historically, the company managed these processes on multiple Excel spreadsheets, which required manual revisions that were almost impossible to keep synchronizedmacross disparate spreadsheets. It was a time-intensive and inefficient process that lacked the functionality needed to manage an increasingly global company.

During a routine business planning session, listening to the strategic objectives of executives from each business area, it became clear that the company's current business systems could not deliver against their requirements, Van Dyk recalled.

With an eye on assortment range planning, Kathmandu began its search for a technology partner. The company sought a system that would reduce the risks associated with forecasting and planning knowledge, deliver timeliness of data entry and availability, and manage accurate information so that the retailer could make informed business decisions. From an architecture standpoint, it wanted a stable environment with limited required configurations and modifications; the system also had to align with the chain's best practices.

Kathmandu found its ideal solution from JustEnough, Irvine, Calif. The solution's functionality, including having all data in a centralized location, was a very attractive feature. Its status as a Microsoft independent software vendor (ISV) partner was also a plus, as all future versions of the product will integrate with MicrosoftmDynamics AX enterprise resources planning software, which
will streamline upgrades.

Kathmandu added the hosted infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS) cloud-based platform in phases. For example, the assortment planning tool went live in September 2013, followed by item planning in January 2014, and allocations and replenishment in October 2014. Already, Kathmandu has gained better visibility of its operating stock requirements, which is leading to better planning practices around assortment range planning, option count and product lifecycle, says Van Dyk. "Our planners also have more information available to make more informed decisions."

Van Dyk noted that one of the biggest results the chain has achieved is a significant reduction in overall stock holdings; insights provided by the solution enable it to purchase smarter, he says. Its full-speed-ahead momentum continues, as the company looks to achieve better space management and just-in-time replenishment, with architecture that can better manage stock throughput and add boundaries to deal with out-of-stock exceptions, rather than having to troll through all data and traffic to understand product movement.

More immediately, the company is focused on embedding its new core business systems and unlocking the next stage in business capability, Van Dyk concluded.

Deena M. Amato-McCoy is a freelance writer specializing in retail and apparel.

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