Despar and Wipro Retail celebrate ten-year partnership

Despar, the Italian grocery retailer and wholesaler, has realised benefits following the implementation of Oracle Retail solutions by Wipro Retail, over a ten-year period. The Despar brand is, above all, a vision: an association between wholesalers and retailers to offer the best products and services to its customers. Established in 1932 in Holland, Despar is part of the global Spar brand, which trades in 33 countries around the world.
 
At a national and regional level, the Despar brand and its activity are run by 11 autonomous companies. Despar is a major player in the Italian food retail sector, in fact, l'85% degli italiani abita nei pressi di un Despar, Eurospar o Interspar. 85% of Italians live near a Despar, or Eurospar Interspar.
 
In the north east area of Italy, Despar is known as Gruppo Aspiag. Gruppo Aspiag, a member of SPAR Austria, has been working in Italy since the beginning of 1990. With 590 stores and franchised outlets in Italy, Aspiag Services is the biggest of the 11 companies of the Despar Italia consortium.  In the operating areas of Tri-Veneto and Ferrara, where Despar have a strong presence, it is the market leader.
 
The Challenge
A number of issues led Aspiag Services, to review its IT processes.  Back in 1998, the Aspiag consortium was made up of four companies that it had acquired, and each company had different managerial processes and software.  The management decided that to make the group more successful, it needed to standardise its processes and IT platform, using just one Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.  The objective of this project was to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the company.
 
Despar reviewed the market, and took references from other retailers who have worked with Wipro Retail, basing its decision to select Wipro Retail on Wipro Retails expertise and experience.  Despar selected Wipro Retail as its partner to implement Oracles ERP solution, and in particular, the Oracle Retail Merchandise System (ORMS), Oracle Retail Data Warehouse (ORDW), Oracle Retail Invoice Matching (ORIM), and Oracle Retail Warehouse Management System (ORWMS).
 
The main objectives that shaped the drivers for change, were for the four companies with different systems to be fully merged within a year; to provide one solution for all retail management functions, which would create an easy tool to integrate new acquisitions; increase the service levels of logistics, which would reduce stock, drive down out-of-stocks, and lost sales; simplify the management of Assortment/price management, promotions and franchised stores; and to provide a solid integration with a simplified IT architecture. 
 
The projects
The first roll out was of ORMS, where the objective was to improve the replenishment procedures for stores, using forecasting, with one single point of management of promotions and prices, and different assortments for the different brand formats.
 
The Warehouse Management solution was rolled out to four warehouses (three grocery and one fresh products), implementing new warehouse procedures which included put-away, hot-replenishment, sending products directly from the reception to the picking areas, planning receptions and Cross docking between warehouses.
 
Invoice matching was tackled, to improve the control of invoices, and reduce the number of days taken for matching.  This was followed by the introduction of a data warehouse, which delivered a power tool for users, that could slice and dice business data, transforming it into useful information, and improving the production of internal Key Performance Indicators. Later this was integrated with automatic Optical Character Recognition procedures enabling further matching times reduction.
 
Despars supply chain has also benefited from the IT re-structure, and Despar now enjoy full control over stock, the ability to share replenishment data with suppliers, which has increased service levels, and the creation of Intelligent agents for alerting and triggering events on the supply chain, for example, an alert for a product that is being promoted, when there is no stock left store by raising an automatic inventory.
 
The ERP roll out was implemented to a short time frame, across the companies. Paolo Crea, CIO, Despar, said, The ERP project was a new beginning for Aspiag.  It enabled us to grow very quickly, making us the market leader of the GDO (Grande Distribuzione Organizzata (a large retail organisation) in Northeast Italy."
 
The ORMS, ORIM and ORWMS projects began with a Conference Room Pilot in the summer of 1999, with a go-live in January 2000.  The ORDW programme started in March 2000, and was completed by summer 2000, and the additional projects have run over the course of the past nine years. 
 
Wipro Retail has supported Despars applications since the beginning of the partnership.  In 2006, due to the scale of the implementation, the partnership identified that the project would benefit from building specialised teams that would focus on day to day activities, that would be dedicated to responding to any requirements from Despar.
Despar have benefited from this model, by having dedicated teams focusing on the specific work that each team was designed for.  This also delivered value to Despar, as the teams constantly provided suggestions for how to improve the systems, for example, batch optimisation, process automation, etc.
 
Benefits
Despar has enjoyed a raft of benefits from its partnership with Wipro Retail.  Crea continued, Major benefits to our business have included the improvement on the control of our product range and margins.  Weve largely reduced the number of invoices that werent automatically matched, and have largely reduced the number of days required for matching, and we have seen great improvements in our distribution centres, with an increased number of SKUs managed in the Warehouse.  One of our core aims was to deploy a single system to manage the company, and this has also been realised.  We know also have one version of the truth, in terms of data, with our Data Warehouse.
 
Other benefits that have been achieved, include the fact that Despar now has all the conditions required to support CPFR (Collaborative Planning, Forecasting and Replenishment) one of the most important project scheduled for 2010, which means it will achieve large benefits on stock management improvement and reducing out-of stocks. 
 
Crea continued, The new systems have allowed us to put a category management practice in place, and we have also seen an improved labour performance per picker in the warehouse.  In terms of our supply chain, weve been able to reduce the average stock movement, and our administration has seen a boost, with faster processes in place for the end-of-the-year reports.  We also have much greater quality of information, for example in the past we could only seen the margin for category on a monthly basis now its daily, which is crucial for us to make informed business decisions.
 
Looking to the future
The relationship with Despar and Wipro Retail is still going strong.  In the last quarter of 2009, a new warehouse was integrated to the system in record time. 
 
During 2009, Wipro Retail helped Despar migrate from its old ORMS Servers to new ones.  This project also consisted reviewing and implementing new Batch Scheduling.  This was a complex project, which proved to be a great success, which met the go-live date without any interruption to the company users.  This will continue to support the company as it grows in terms of information technologies.
 
Agnieszka Szambelan, the project manager for the migration at Aspiag said, Aspiag is very satisfied with this project and the way it was managed. The project covered many aspects - technical database migration and structures review, OS migration with complete review of all system paths, communication protocols, user definition and authorisation, etc. It was very important to deliver valid impact analysis, deliver all changes and corrections on time, manage risk, and manage correctly all unexpected problems during go-live and stabilisation phases. The work was conducted with maximum sensibility for the goals achievement and guaranteed timings. Frequent feedback and synchronisation meetings were very important for the overall progress and team management.  The final results of the project gave many benefits to our company and were delivered with no unexpected impacts.
 
Despar drives business with efficient promotions
With growing competition from other retail chains and the supermarkets, and the current global economic crisis, Despar is raising its game by improving its promotional processes.
 
Despar needs to simplify the tasks that are required to make an offer and reduce manual work on data manipulation and data entry into existing promotions applications.
 
As an existing Oracle Retail user, Despar decided to manage promotions better by deploying a solution integrated with Oracle Retail.
 
For implementation, Despar chose Wipro Retail as it understands the Despar business so well and because it provides very reliable solutions. Wipro Retail also had the capability to customise the solution to Despars needs.
 
Paolo Crea, CIO, Despar, said, Weve been working with Wipro Retail since 1998, and in that time they have helped us maintain our systems and implement new functionalities that has enabled Despar to expand into an even more successful business.
 
Looking to the future of the partnership, in early 2010, Despar signed an additional three year ADSM contract with Wipro Retail, demonstrating the trust and strength of the relationship between the two companies.
 
Future plans include looking at the managerial software at store level.  Despar and Wipro Retail are planning a solution that uses a simple and intuitive interface, with the introduction of new technologies that are driven by PDAs.

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