Case Study - Redi-Mart
Microsoft Dynamics GP
Redi-Mart is a growing chain of 14 Tennessee convenience stores. A paramount business mission is to give customers an enjoyable shopping experience as they buy cigarettes, smokeless and chewing tobacco, domestic and imported cigars, roll-your-own tobacco, and accessories. Stores sell a full line of convenience items, including drinks, candy, Tennessee lottery tickets, gasoline, beer, and, at select stores, a full line of groceries.
Redi-Mart’s management ideas and staff's fast, cheerful service expanded stores from four to six in a year. But management spent hours manually correcting and pushing business information from electronic cash registers (ECRs) and scanners into a polling program, and then into QuickBooks Pro. Even so, inventory visibility was spotty, inaccurate, and limited. To continue expanding, Redi-Mart needed better systems.
“In spite of the claims about ECR polling programs sending POS [point-of-sale] data to QuickBooks, they emphatically did not do what they promised,” says Chris Rayment, CEO of Redi-Mart. “Results were wrong several ways. Counts were high or low. Sometimes they skipped an entire SKU. We had no perpetual inventory. We'd over-order, then pull back next week. We had shortages then surpluses. Since our stores are light on storage, that backed up our warehouse. We mistrusted results so much that, to be accurate for government and tax reporting, we manually input Z-reports into Microsoft Excel daily, then manually into QuickBooks at month-end.”
ECRs prevented Redi-Mart from participating in marketing opportunities from the tobacco industry. “That’s 80 percent of our sales, and the companies put items on and off sale for specific durations,” says Rayment. “PepsiCo or Coke might offer BOGOs. On-and-off specials and price changes are too clumsy to handle with ECRs. Then we couldn't turn out the post-promotion reports vendors need. We had to keep specials in our heads or slow our checkout lines with cheat-sheets. Far too often, I had to decline special pricing offers. That system inability cost us sales, profits, and customers.”
Redi-Mart exists in a world of tight margins. Untrustworthy inventory numbers cause unwise capital allocation that restricts growth. Retailers cannot expand without reliable data.
“ECRs gave us no way to identify theft, and too many people knew that. Managers were lobbying me for better audit trails and bulletproof security on cashiers. ECRs just don’t have the robustness for any business that wants to survive in the twenty-first century. You can’t stay profitable—you can't even exist—if you aren't on the leading edge of retail technologies. Everywhere we looked, the old system was costing us money, hours, customers, or merchandise.”
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