Payless Shoes is the largest specialty family footwear retailer in the Western Hemisphere, offering a comprehensive range of everyday and special occasion shoes, including Champion and American Eagle. Payless operate over 4,400 stores in over 30 countries throughout 5 continents. Payless Shoes Australia operates 141 stores throughout Australia.
With Jedox, Payless Shoes Australia have transformed merchandise planning, daily sales reporting and management reporting and budgeting. In this interview, I talk with Payless’ IT and Merchandise Planning Managers about the possibilities Jedox has opened up in reporting and planning.
Sam Perrin, Jedox: What experience did you have with Business Intelligence solutions before coming across Jedox?
Scott Douglas, IT Manager, Payless Shoes: Our Managing Director and our Planning team had some experience with
Rob Willis, Merchandise Planning Manager, Payless Shoes: I’d used TM1 in previous roles. We had nothing in place beforehand at Payless Shoes, just a bunch of Excel spreadsheets and [SAP] Crystal Reports.
Sam Perrin: And how did you find Jedox in comparison to TM1?
Scott Douglas: I found similar concepts and we could easily do anything we used to do in TM1.
Rob Willis: Functionality-wise it’s all there.
Sam Perrin: What stage was the project at when you arrived?
Scott Douglas: The first model was already created. We were defining the next models to be built.
Sam Perrin: What were some of the short-term outcomes of Jedox?
Scott Douglas: We replaced the legacy reporting system. Jedox gave us the added advantage of being able to perform much deeper analysis on our data.
Rob Willis: I loved it. I could actually get things, I could slice-and-dice, I could pull things out. It was just so much easier than running horrible Crystal Reports, which took ages and always crashed. You could only get infrequent reports at certain periods of time, whereas with this I just build a framework and the reports were there.
Sam Perrin: How was user acceptance?
Scott Douglas: Great. We had two or three people who really drove it from the start and were responsible for bringing it on board.
Rob Willis: My team loved it, they can really appreciate having a good BI tool, because they’re planners. Initially there was some concern from other departments, as replacing Excel with a BI tool was a fresh concept. But when they used it, they really liked it – buyers get in there and pull data out easily, and say “this is great”.
Finance use it and operations too. When Operations started with it, they first didn’t understand what it could deliver. Then their admin manager embraced it, and they’re created all their own reports and analysis. They’ve become so much more efficient.
Sam Perrin: Has there been any project in particular that you’ve liked?
Rob Willis: Our financial planning project. We used to use Excel spreadsheets, which can corrupt data and hinder progress. Jedox now gives me visibility of what we’re going to be doing in the future so I can set plans and actually work towards them.
Sam Perrin: What are Jedox’s strengths?
Scott Douglas: The technology. It’s in-memory and it’s familiar to Excel users so it is easy to use. It brings us that analytical slice-and-dice power to review data, be it operations, sales or merchandise planning data, to name a few.
Rob Willis: We’ve used it for our planning tool. All our financial plans are Jedox and we hold all of the forecasts in there. It’s just a million times better than what we had in Excel spreadsheets before.
Sam Perrin: What are long-term effects from Jedox on the way Payless Shoes operates?
Rob Willis: Jedox makes us more efficient. We can react quicker. We can actually plan. It sounds crazy, but we can actually plan now.
Scott Douglas: For many users, it’s easier to obtain the information they require. And they’re building more and more dynamic reports.
Previous practice was to create a static crystal report. Before you knew it, there were 100 static crystal reports, all slightly different versions of the truth. Jedox brings focus to the analytical nature using cubes. We’ve empowered users to do what they need now, dynamically, through Excel, without imposing on IT to build a static crystal report.
Sam Perrin: What do you see as being the strengths of Jedox for the retail industry?
Scott Douglas: With the implementation of our weekly inventory forecasting cube, we’ve built a custom planning solution that we can use to plan down through our merchandise hierarchy. We can forecast demand for different categories, different styles, different brands. We plan and work out the numbers in advance. Jedox really helps out with buying practices.
Rob Willis: From me personally it’s visibility. Just having the ability to get relevant merchandise data.
Sam Perrin: How’s your experience been with Jedox?
Scott Douglas: It’s been good. Ben [Jedox Consultant Ben Pfrommer] along with Halim [ND Director of Professional Services Halim Joe]. Ben has been working onsite, and Halim offsite. In terms of timeliness and delivery of service, Ben is very good.
Rob Willis: Really good. The first time I met them I thought that it was obvious you knew what you was talking about and had good experience in Retail. I knew we were in safe hands.
I’ve dealt mostly with Ben, and he’s very receptive, always answered questions to, which is excellent. I’ve talked to him about what I’d used before, and he understood immediately. He’s great.
Sam Perrin: Sometimes, with a tool that is so well-suited for an organisation’s end users, IT can sometimes feel like the business is going their own way. Obviously this isn’t the case at Payless Shoes. Why do you think everything meshed so well here?
Scott Douglas: We’re a small IT team, so the more that we can put in the hands of the user, the better. It means we can focus on our own challenges within the IT department, so for us it’s a perfect fit.
Rob Willis: I had quite a bit of experience in this area, and come with a knowledge base. If others are coming into it wide-eyed and don’t have any idea, then that could probably cause conflict between them and their IT team. I think it’s just that from a merchandise point of view you’ve just got to listen and understand what the tool can actually deliver, and then you’ve got to map out what you want it to deliver. And then liaise with your IT team, to get them to really understand your goals.
Sam Perrin: How do you see Jedox in the future of Payless Shoes?
Scott Douglas: Over the next 12 months, we’ll build on what we’ve got. There will be future requirements, we’ll engage Jedox in development. Initially it’s about getting the use and the value out of what we’ve invested up front.
Rob Willis: At the moment it’s bedding in what we’ve done, as we’ve done a huge amount over a very short space of time and then extend with budgeting by location and more on operations.
Sam Perrin: If you could sum up Jedox’s impact on your organisation in one sentence, what would it be?
Rob Willis: I can do one word. Transparency.
Sam Perrin: Any last thoughts?
Rob Willis: I think Jedox is great. I really do. There’s still heaps of things I haven’t used in Jedox, we are really only scratching the surface. I’m using Jedox 95% of my day, so it’s made my life a lot easier. I’m very happy.