Virgin Retail has deployed Microstrategy business intelligence software connected to its 15-year-old JDA MMS merchandising system to plan product purchasing at store level.
The deployment has allowed it to increase sales and lower the amount of capital tied up in stock, said IT director Tony Johnson.
“With store-specific ranging, a lot of the benefit comes from not tying up your cash in product that is not going to sell, and it allows us better control of our stock,” he said.
Virgin Retail started using store-specific ranging – also known as assortment planning – for music products six months ago. It will use the software for DVDs from July.
Assortment planning makes use of a SQL Server datawarehouse and a business intelligence platform from Microstrategy that Virgin implemented last September.
The assortment planning feature was developed as an extension of the company’s established merchandising system, the Epos-Linked Virgin Information System (Elvis), which uses the information in Microstrategy to produce assortment plans for each store. A separate application from software supplier Eqos compels the retailer’s buyers to follow standardised processes when dealing with suppliers.
Virgin Megastores deal with an average of 120 suppliers a week, and Virgin Retail expects to save a minimum of £1.15m a year by using the Eqos system to reduce charging errors and to ensure that discounts are set at the correct level.
Virgin Retail’s merchandising system, the most important IT system for any large retailer, is a 15-year-old implementation of JDA MMS that has been customised internally. Johnson said, “We have an internal team that has bespoke developed the hell out of it.”