United Retail chooses efficiency

“HSO provided not just a modern system, but also a successful adoption and business change”

A time-consuming order-picking process, awkward walking routes for warehouse workers, and an outdated ERP system – all elements that hinder efficiency in a warehouse. That was the situation at United Retail, which had a huge need to introduce more efficient working methods in its distribution center. That’s when United Retail CFO Eric van Staveren called in HSO.

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management

Time-consuming order-picking, warehouse employees walking miles a day and an outdated ERP system needing considerable customization. It was obvious the distribution center needed significant improvement. HSO came to the rescue with Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management and Azure Integration Services. Eric: “We used to use Microsoft AXAPTA, a precursor to Dynamics 365. But Microsoft ended the updates and technical support for this system.” United Retail also wanted a new and future-oriented product.

Its existing product had difficulty communicating with other applications. Dynamics 365 does this far better because, notes Eric: “The entire architecture of this software is set up to communicate with other applications.” The change was also intended to do away with customization. United Retail wanted to implement its new solution with as little customization as possible, and HSO succeeded. “That’s because customization gets in the way of any future updates.”

Who is United Retail?

United Retail is an entrepreneurial organization for the two store formulas, Electro World and Dé Witgoed Specialist, and their affiliated purchasing partners. United Retail supports its 300 affiliated entrepreneurs with central marketing and a webshop, sophisticated range management, administration, logistical processes and more.

United Retail is based in Huizen in the province of North Holland, with its own distribution center in Nijkerk which holds a permanent stock of selected products for entrepreneurs. That avoids the entrepreneur having to maintain his own stock of everything, with the range always available.

“A massive improvement in efficiency”

Significant logistical efficiency advances could also be achieved in United Retail’s distribution center. Order-picking and setting up the order-picking process simply had to become more efficient. “We were performing customer-oriented order-picking, or putting together an order per customer. But what we really wanted was far more flow-controlled order-picking. HSO contributed the perfect interpretation for this.” The new system offers insights into the orders and which distribution channels they go through. Algorithms also display the best walking routes.

HSO handles implementation to business change

Implementation doesn’t mean the matter is done and dusted. Successful implementation doesn’t automatically result in successful adoption and business change. HSO specializes in optimizing this process. That’s why HSO helped United Retail to harvest ripe benefits from the new Dynamics 365 system.

Eric: “Adoption and change management was a major challenge. In fact it was quite a challenge for the core users to adopt new working methods alongside their regular work tasks. They had to learn to work in an entirely different way. Here HSO helped by striking the right balance between much-needed improvement, and monitoring business-critical processes.”

“Thanks to HSO, United Retail’s USPs remained intact, but the company became more future-proof”

Eric van Staveren CFO United Retail

Manageable adoption bites

HSO advised United Retail to tackle the adoption in steps, given that too much change all at once is difficult for an organization to manage. “HSO’s consultancy was very familiar with this, and they have an implementation method which works well, taking the user through the new software step by step. They also delve carefully into the current processes, so that they can translate these to the new environment, tailored specifically to the company.”

“HSO also guided us on which parts would be best to start with, and where we should wait,” notes Eric. “This culminated in a roadmap for a successful implementation, more efficient practices and a future-proof system. You shouldn’t underestimate an ERP implementation. It requires a careful approach, and is the cornerstone for many facets in your organization. HSO tackles this with kid gloves.”

He continues: “All modern technology has been incorporated into our new system. The customization overload is a thing of the past. We also carried out a whole host of optimizations within the warehouse, thanks to HSO and Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management.”

Consulting Offering

Imagine what your future in retail looks like

Retail is rapidly transforming due to new technology, consumer preferences, and evolving expectations. Consumers want differentiated, personalised shopping experiences that deliver value and convenience, and employees need the right tools to deliver this information.

A practical example

“Typical of what we would often see is a customer ordering three TVs, eight shavers and five coffee makers,” recalls Eric van Staveren. “We would collect these customer-specifically, placing the products per order on a separate pallet and sending it to the respective entrepreneur. Now what we have is the three TVs going via carrier A, accompanied by an order for the sixty TVs scheduled for 4 p.m. today”

That means a warehouse worker can walk, stack, seal and ship those all at once, he points out. “Thanks to the new system, order employees walk 50 percent less per day, but get through twice as much work, without any extra physical effort.”

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