STORES Magazine - September 2017 - 47
"At the 11th hour, we heard about
RELEX and thought, 'Who is RELEX'?
So we investigated, found out that they
were all over Europe but new in the
U.S., and serious about this market,"
Crayton says. "We liked what we saw,
took a chance and included them in the
evaluation process. They brought to the
table pretty much what we were
In addition to meeting all of
LifeWay's criteria, RELEX offered a
few additional benefits that affected
LifeWay's decision. The ability to offer
a software-as-a-service model along
with a proven track record of timely
implementations and mobile
capabilities were all important
Store managers "can review
available products and select
ones they want to add to
their store's assortment
plan based on their
unique knowledge of their
- Bill Crayton, LifeWay Christian Stores
"Mobile played a role in the decision to
move forward with RELEX," Crayton says.
"They were the only vendor we found that
offered a mobile solution. Mobile capability
is a critical component enabling an effective
and efficient micro-localization model."
RELEX was founded in 2005 by three
logistics scientists who were conducting
research at the Helsinki University of
Technology. After some research dives,
they realized the systems available for
conducting store replenishment and
forecasting lacked needed capabilities to
support modern retailers, and founded the
company to fill that void.
Today, the company provides an
integrated retail and supply chain planning
system including demand forecasting,
automated replenishment, space planning
and assortment optimization.
RELEX steadily established its presence
in Europe, but didn't make the commitment
to venture into the U.S. market until 2015;
it currently services nearly 200 customers
across 18 countries and has 10 offices
worldwide. In addition, it has a number of
"go-to-market" partners that offer sales
and implementation and support services
around RELEX systems in both established
and new markets.
LifeWay began the installation process,
broken into a two-phase process, in April
2016. Phase I was "macro-localization,"
which works from a centralized assortment
plan that organizes stores into groups and
develops different product assortments
for each. It allows for store replenishment
levels with store-level forecasts and different
ordering points. It also provides the ability
to share information and forecasts with
LifeWay's publishing arm and even vendors.
Phase II was "micro-localization,"
which incorporates and blends local and
store-specific data into the mix and the
ability to adjust inventory on that level
to accommodate customer demand and
needs. That can range from specific
product demand to measurable response
to special events and even sales trends on
the front lines.
"For instance, as a major bookseller,
LifeWay finds that local authors sell
well in their areas and wanted to ensure
store managers could respond to such
opportunities," Crayton says. "They
can review available products and select
ones they want to add to their store's
assortment plan based on their unique
knowledge of their customers. They are
also allowed to request adjustments to
their store's minimum presentation stock."
Crayton says even though LifeWay made
the decision to install the system just as
it was entering into the holiday season, it
went without any major hitches.
"The projects started in April 2016
and the system was live with a large
selection of products by August of
2016. We didn't have any major issues
and everything worked very well,"
he says. "We could have been up and
running sooner, but we built in time for
In terms of results, Crayton points
out that the RELEX system allows
LifeWay to better manage store-level
inventory and assortments. All of
that has resulted in higher inventory
turnover, lower clearance merchandise
and the ability to better manage
"The RELEX solution eliminated
past manual work and streamlined the
ordering process," he says. "We now
manage our stores and ecommerce with
one team using one system and a single
view of performance."
"We now have a platform for
central office and store associates
to work together to improve storelevel assortment breadth, depth and
William F. Kendy writes, consults and speaks on
retail, marketing, advertising, sales, customer
service and best practices.
STORES September 2017 47