The outdoor chain YHA Adventure Shops is to become the first small retail chain in the UK to replace its legacy IT systems with SAP.
YHA is to invest £850,000 in SAP Retail, the largest single investment the company has made, to drive forward plans to expand onto the Internet, mail ordering, and interactive television sales.
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YHA plans to have the system, which is central to its strategy to turn itself into a multi-channel retailer, up and running in its 22 stores by November.
Although some larger retailers have struggled with ERP implementations in the past, YHA believes that SAP will bring immediate benefits to the business.
Richard Wilman, head of finance and IT, said the system will allow Adventure Shops to reduce its inventory of stock by more than 5%, reduce paperwork and provide more accurate management information.
"We expect our stocks to be reduced by between 5% and 10%. We needed a system that would provide us with efficiencies," he said.
The SAP Retail system, which will run on IBM Netfinity servers, will replace two legacy IT systems with a single system that will manage sales from stores, the Internet and catalogues.
YHA has hired SAP specialist KSYS UK, a division of KPOS, to install the system in just seven months to coincide with plans to relaunch the YHA Web site.
The biggest challenge, said Wilman, will for YHA's IT department, which is only about half a dozen-strong, to oversee the installation, while managing their day-to-day work.
ERP suppliers are increasingly targeting smaller businesses, as sales to larger businesses slow down.
YHA's systems at a glance
Merchant 6000 software running on RS/6000 servers
KPOS Stores6000 software running on RS/6000 servers
Will run on 3 or 4 IBM Netfinity servers running Windows NT and Oracle