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Vendors target retailers with supply chain wares

Companies angling to help retailers streamline supply chains and bolster the bottom line announced a number of solutions yesterday at the Retail Systems 2002 Conference in Chicago.

SAP announced new merchandise management, planning, and forecasting functionality for its mySAP Retail technology. Syncra Systems and Manhattan Associates also unveiled supply chain technology tailored for the retail industry.

The enhancements to mySAP Retail aim to enhance the core merchandising functionality to improve inventory management, allocation, planning, and pricing optimisation, said Hunter Harris, vice-president of retail business development at SAP.

"We're offering solutions that allow the retail industry to solve a very immediate need with a rapid ROI," Harris said. "Stores may need to change data, merchandisers may need to change data [or] when prices change or the replenishment process changes, all of that can be done very fast."

In addition, the new functionality is designed to allow retailers to fully integrate the planning activities within the overall inventory management process.

Retailers understand the difference that an effective IT strategy can make in improving their operating performance and are embracing solutions that offer robust core merchandise management and planning functionality, said Andrew White, research director at Gartner.

Vendors who can offer sophisticated inventory management and merchandising capabilities are helping retailers boost operating efficiencies and IT ROI, he added.

In related news, SAP announced a new modular forecasting and replenishment solution designed to allow retailers improve on-shelf availability, reduce inventory, and optimise the supply chain.

The solution, which will be embedded in mySAP Retail, pairs SAP's business application development with SAP's automated forecasting technology.

Syncra Systems rolled out the next generation of its supply-chain visibility and collaborative platform.

Syncra XtTM Version 4.0. offers improvements in both scalability and core functionality designed to support large-scale deployment, according to company officials.

It includes a multi-dimensional, ad hoc analysis and reporting tool and exception management capabilities. Version 4.0 also integrates Syncra's replenishment planning and demand modules to provide collaborative order planning and demand forecasting.

Hayes Shimp, manager of sales technology and e-commerce at Georgia-Pacific, said the enhancements will help his company as it rolls out the solution to more of its retailers' trading partners by speeding up the collaborative process.

Finally, Manhattan Associates introduced PkMS, the latest version of its supply-chain execution system designed to provide even greater control to those companies who rely on the technology to manage distribution centres.

PkMS will also allow organisations to improve collaboration with their partners and customers through tighter integration with complementary enterprise applications, company officials said.

Major enhancements include an improved yard management system to allow distribution centres to expand inventory tracking beyond the centre.

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