Russell's Convenience Shares on the Cloud

Retailers today are accustomed to using e-mail to communicate important information across their companies. However, this can often be the cause of miscommunication, with updated documents getting lost in e-mail inboxes. Convenience store chain Russell’s Convenience felt the effects of this communication gap when it was struggling to communicate with its licensees.
Based in Denver, CO, Russell’s has been remodeling its 24 stores across the Western U.S. and Hawaii, a project that involves communication between the individual stores and the corporate offices. Most recently, the chain remodeled a store in Los Angeles, which required sending documents back and forth that required approvals to ensure that everything in the store was exactly the way it should be.

What the chain’s executives often saw in meetings was that participants would have different versions of a document, having missed the e-mail with the most recently updated version.

“Let’s say the architect delivered something to me on Wednesday, and I forwarded it to someone via e-mail,” explains Raymond Huff, president of HJB Convenience Corporation, Russell’s Convenience. “He may not open that file in time before I’ve already made a change.”

Russell’s Convenience wanted to transform how its partners collaborated. To achieve this, the retailer adopted the  cloud computing, application LotusLive from IBM to better integrate and share data.

Flexible Communication
LotusLive brings together e-mail and file sharing so companies can seamlessly view various projects in real time. Using the service, Russell’s Convenience can now keep updated versions of files in one area that is viewable by all related parties.

Meetings run more smoothly now that documents are kept in one place. No matter where a participant is located, everyone has access to the same information, minimizing confusion and wasted time.

“What LotusLive brought to us was one version of the document and the ability to tell which document was the last one entered,” says Huff. “Now people are all on the same page in regard to what exactly we are talking about.”

Guest Modeling Cuts Costs
Through LotusLive’s unique guest model, internal users can share data with external users by sending them an invitation. The external guests aren’t registered in the cloud, but rather are allowed to view files that are being shared within the particular project the guest has joined.

Russell’s found the guest feature  beneficial as it remodeled the LA store, a project where communication between the architect in Denver and the operations center in LA is critical. Russell’s management set up a guest account for the architect to communicate with them and submit space plans for approval.

“Not only is it beneficial, it actually saved us money,” says Huff. “Instead of me having to travel out there every two weeks, I now only have to go out there at the beginning of the project, once in the middle and again at the final part.” This significantly cut down travel costs, since projects can run anywhere from six to 13 weeks, explains Huff.

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