STORES Magazine - September 2017 - 46
LifeWay Christian Stores incorporates
store-level data into planning processes
by WILLIAM F. KENDY
t is hard enough to effectively manage inventory for one retail store. It's a lot more
challenging to accomplish the same thing with almost 200 retail outlets.
That is exactly what LifeWay Christian Stores set out to do.
Based out of Nashville, LifeWay is a multichannel retailer with a chain of 174
specialty stores and an ecommerce website. It is a division of LifeWay Christian
Resources, one of the largest providers of religious resources in the world including
books, music, digital services and other products.
In 2016, LifeWay decided its old and highly customized
merchandising system needed to be updated to support its growth
and the ability for local store-level intelligence to be efficiently
integrated into the centralized planning process.
"Assortments were largely standardized across all stores
and there was a limited ability to address unique store-level
assortment needs without going through a cumbersome special
order process through our back-office
systems," says Bill Crayton, LifeWay's
vice president of merchandising.
"The business needed a 'single version
of the truth' across the enterprise and a
clear, dynamic picture of future demand,
calculated from store-level sales data," he
says. "The system had to be robust and
dynamic, offer all-in-one functionality and
be able to accurately allocate and replenish
products without manual intervention. It
had to offer a forward-looking forecasting
process with all of the science built-in, and
it had to be easy to use."
Recognizing that he had a pretty tall
order to fill, and the lack of user-friendly
systems in the market that could handle
what Lifeway was looking for, Crayton
narrowed the list of prospects to about a
half dozen known industry vendors.
Its combined request for information
and proposals required all the standard
requirements, along with a full-blown
demonstration. After all was done and the
smoke cleared, RELEX, a Finland-based
corporation that had just recently entered
the U.S. market, won the business.
RELEX wasn't even included on the
original RFI/RFP list - it was added late
in the process.
STORES September 2017