Invited by the Kühne Foundation, experts from Slimstock organised an inventory management seminar at Strathmore Business University in Kenya. The key priority of the Kühne Foundation is the support of training, further education as well as research and science in the area of logistics, including humanitarian logistics. The training is part of a large-scale development program to increase the level of knowledge in the field of supply chain management in Africa.
The seminar was specifically designed for the Kenyan business community, with the aim of increasing the knowledge in the areas of operations and managing and optimising inventory. The training was provided by inventory experts Eelco Wever and Martijn Endendijk from Slimstock.
Slimstock helped improve availability medication
Last year Slimstock also contributed to a development project in Nigeria. In response to the growing challenges in health care, the Kühne Foundation collaborated with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create the Kaduna State Public Health Supply Chain Transformation Project. “The aim of the project was to improve the distribution of medicines in the East African region” explains Wever. "Stakeholders have informed me last year’s efforts are yielding, after our training the availability of medicines in the region has greatly and permanently been improved. Which is very satisfying news and something we as a company can be proud of."
Slimstock acknowledged as knowledge partner
This year a three-day seminar focusing on Operations and Inventory Management had been organised. The seminar took place at the Strathmore Business University in Nairobi, one of the leading knowledge institutes in Kenia. As part of the training the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency has been visited. The seminar was again a success, participants valued the content and knowledge level of the speakers. The fact that the Kühne Foundation has asked Slimstock to act as a knowledge partner in this program is a great honor.
At the beginning of this month, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited Australia to strengthen the relationship between Australia and The Netherlands. Australia and The Netherlands are important economic partners and have a strong and growing relationship which is underpinned by a long history of people-to-people contacts.
The specific objective of the PM’s visit was to talk about how both countries can cooperate together to move towards a more sustainable future with a circular economy. Slimstock was invited to join certain events such as a dinner with the Dutch Prime Minister and the Australian Minister for Regional Development, Agriculture and Resources Jaclyn Symes. Furthermore Slimstock was present at a panel discussion organised by CEDA (Committee for Economic Development of Australia) where innovation was one of the topics.
It’s been a pleasure to meet Mr. Mark Rutte in person and to have explained the ways how Slimstock embraces innovation and helps Australian companies to reduce waste and improve inventory performance.
Congratulations to the team of Fulcrum Suspensions in Brisbane for successfully completing the Slim4 training!
How do we help?
We help Fulcrum with making sure they have the right stock, at the right place, at the right time in order to meet customer demand and stay ahead of the competition.
By means of our software tool Slim4, companies optimise their inventory management by increasing availability and reducing excess stocks, all while maximising customer service levels. Slim4 is a software add-on that can be connected to any ERP system.
Inventory optimisation at Automotive customers
Slimstock was founded 25 years ago and is a knowledge partner that focuses on forecasting and inventory management. At this moment our team consists of more than 250 enthusiastic Inventory specialist worldwide helping over 900 customers. Happy customers are our number 1 priority!
Of all customers who have joined us over the past 25 years, still, 96% is with us today.
Some of our references in the automotive industry are:
From 25 to 27 February Slimstock exhibited on the New Retail ’19 event that took place at the MCEC in Melbourne. As Slimstock is still relatively new to the Australian market, it was a great opportunity to get in contact with many retailers, not only from Australia but from the entire Pacific region.
It was a great success and very interesting, because many companies in the Australian retail world are in a big transformation process to innovate their processes, mainly driven by the upcoming e-commerce market and competition from overseas entering the Australian market. Especially the big distances within the country and between the cities in combination with increasingly demanding customers make e-commerce in Australia very challenging, therefore a company’s supply chain structure plays a major role in the success of a company. Whether you want to stay ahead of the competition or want to respond faster to the market, Slimstock can help you to improve and align the processes concerning forecasting and inventory management.
Slimstock is proud to announce being appointed official partner in the showcase during this year’s selected ASW Technology Partner Day event in Hong Kong. Main goal is to share future IT roadmap and present expertise in inventory optimisation and how to achieve supply chain excellence. Slim4 inventory optimisation software is a best of breed solution which is specifically designed to help overcome world-wide retailers’ challenges.
Hong Kong 7. November 2018
Everyone is looking to strike a balance between working capital, operational costs and the optimal service level. It is vital that business leaders focus their time and attention on areas that deliver the greatest returns. The quickly changing online landscape requires innovative retailers to deal with customers who can constantly look for the best price and expect delivery as they require.
Next to traditional competition, pure players enter the market and suppliers are selling directly to customer. This causes customer loyalty to decrease and makes demand more volatile. Planning becomes even more difficult due to constant pressure on promotions.
In order to adapt quickly to changes and to be able to proactively manage inventory, A.S. Watson Group (ASW) partnered with the European market leader Slimstock and integrated Slim4 completely within their ERP system. Slim4 software is designed to help retailers getting the right stock at the right time at the right place and assuring unrivalled levels of customer service.
Slim4 manages both push and pull streams. It has been developed for forecasting at daily level, automated PLC management, store replenishment and for dealing with large promotional volumes taking into account the desired store image. It enables users to gain valuable insights to satisfy future demand. The long-term strategic relationship will focus on enabling ASW to implement the complete solution for the structural optimisation of their inventory.
Malina Ngai, Group Chief Operating Officer of A.S. Watson, is delighted to announce Slimstock as an ASW Tech Partner, “We started the Technology Partnership Programme last year with the aim to create longer term partnership instead of short-term client-vendor relationship. Through this mutual commitment, our Tech Partners like Slimstock whom we have chosen to work with have brought us great expertise and innovation to help us accelerate our digital transformation. As one of the key benefits, they have access to senior management, visibility on our growth strategy as well as technology roadmap. As we continue our digital transformation journey, we will invest in the right technology and the right partnership to help us enhance our ability to build stronger customer connectivity, online and offline, which in return will make us customers’ most-loved brands.”
Eric van Dijk, CEO, Slimstock,“Supply chain operational excellence is key to survive in the rapidly changing and highly competitive retail landscape. We are proud to be selected by A.S. Watson as partner in this important area of expertise.”
Founded in 1993, Slimstock has become Europe’s leading inventory optimisation specialist.
Inventory optimisation is at the heart of everything that we do; the passion and knowledge that we bring to our relationships have resulted in being trusted by over 850 companies around the world. For more information visit http://www.slimstock.com, or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
About A.S. Watson Group
Established in Hong Kong in 1841, A.S. Watson Group is the world’s largest international health and beauty retailer with over 14,500 stores in 24 markets. Each year, over four billion customers and members shop with our 12 retail brands, both in stores and online.
For the fiscal year 2017, A.S. Watson Group recorded revenue of HKD156.2 billion. We have over 140,000 employees worldwide, including 12,900 in Hong Kong. A.S. Watson Group is also a member of the world-renowned multinational conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings Limited, which has five core businesses ‐ ports and related services, retail, infrastructure, energy and telecommunications in over 50 countries.
Please visit www.aswatson.com for more in-depth information about A.S. Watson Group and its brands. You may also stay in touch with us via our digital presence (eCommerce, social media, mobile app & more); more details are at http://www.aswatson.com/our-customers/digitalasw/
With more than 600 stores in Turkey, food retailer, Carrefour SA regularly struggled with out of stock situations. One of the biggest problems was that the retailer’s inventory management activities relied heavily on the knowledge and experience of the inventory planners, who are moreover in very short supply in Turkey. Thanks to Slim4, Carrefour SA has succeeded in standardising, centralising and automating the replenishment of its DCs and its stores. The initial results – fewer planners and higher on-shelf availability – demonstrate the potential for even more improvements.
Despite the country’s challenges, the grocery retailer Carrefour SA continues to show strong growth in Turkey. With over 600 stores ranging from hypermarkets with more than 50,000 SKUs to supermarkets, convenience stores and specialist shops. The retailer not only sells food and drink products, but also non-food items such as textiles and electronics. The stores are replenished via an extensive network of seven regional distribution centres (DCs), three DCs for fresh produce, one DC for ﬁsh and seafood, and one DC for frozen food. Due to an ongoing acquisition strategy, the number of stores is constantly rising and the retailer currently has over half a million square metres of ﬂoor space. But the rapid growth added to the pressure on Carrefour SA’s supply chain, resulting in frequent out-of-stock situations which were damaging the retailer’s customer service level.
At the same time, Carrefour SA was being forced to write oﬀ a lot of inventory because products remained unsold. However, by far the biggest problem was the lack of the right knowledge and skills to turn things around. “There is a high level of staﬀ turnover within the logistics and inventory planning teams, plus it’s very diﬃcult to ﬁnd new people. Not many Turkish universities oﬀer good degree courses related to supply chain management. We have to make do with newly graduated technical engineers and then help them to develop the relevant competencies ourselves,” says Emri Aslan, Supply Group Manager at Carrefour SA.
Carrefour SA realised that the existing store replenishment process had to be redesigned. The retailer was too reliant on Excel sheets and the knowledge inside the heads of its inventory planners. “Partly also due to the shortage of supply chain talent, we wanted to standardise the replenishment process and relive some of the preasure placed on our employees. We implemented SAP for things like warehousing and inventory management, but the ERP suite’s replenishment module didn’t oﬀer enough functionality for us. The problems with on-shelf availability in our stores meant that we had a pressing need for an advanced forecasting and replenishment tool,” continues Aslan. Carrefour SA came into contact with Slimstock through the local consultancy ﬁrm Selco.
After carefully comparing it with the SAP Forecasting & Replenishment and NCR Retalix systems, Aslan and his team decided on Slimstock’s Slim4 tool. “It might seem more logical to have chosen SAP Forecasting & Replenishment seeing as our ERP system is from SAP, but no one uses that module in Turkey. Our ERP system has been substantially customized, so there was little – if any – beneﬁt to be gained by staying with just one software supplier, so we preferred Slim4. The tool has user-friendly screens, is easy to learn and to work with, and the same version is available worldwide. Besides that, Slim4 allows us to create a process that will reduce our dependency on people.”
NO MORE CHAOS
Slim4 has enabled Carrefour SA to streamline inventory management across their end-to-end supply chain. The stock levels are now managed centrally, both in the DCs and in the stores. “In the past our inventory planners used to mainly rely on their own experience when placing purchase orders with our 1,500-plus Turkish suppliers. Now, Slim4 automatically generates the purchase orders based on historical data and the forecast for the weeks ahead,” explains Aslan. “Until recently, the store replenishment orders were generated semiautomatically. In other words, the stores themselves had the option to adjust the quantities as they saw ﬁt. But that created chaos and resulted in stock surpluses or even shortages. There’s no more chaos now.”
Slim4 oﬀers particular beneﬁts when phasing products in and out. Whenever a new product is introduced, the tool generates a reliable forecast based on the sales history of similar items. If demand declines and an item needs to be phased out, Slim4 issues an alert to prevent surplus stock. Slim4 even supports Carrefour SA’s acquisition strategy. Before a new store is added to the new network, Slim4 copies the data from similar stores. As a result, the right quantities of the right items can be stocked on the shelves right from the start.
This new approach has already produced some promising initial results: Aslan’s team is now more data-driven rather than relying on assumptions or the knowledge inside the planners’ heads. This has led to a seven percent increase in on-shelf availability and signiﬁcantly improved the forecasting accuracy, which has had a positive impact on store revenue. Aslan: “Moreover, the planning process is now a lot more eﬃcient; despite to the growth. We’ve been able to cut back on eight FTEs. Futhermore, the store employees have more time to spare.”
The partnership with Slimstock has been outstanding so far. The implementation remained within budget and took only three weeks longer than originally planned. “Slimstock was extremely quick to resolve the minor problems we encountered,” says Aslan. And Carrefour SA is not ﬁnished yet; next on the list is the implementation of the Slim4 promotions module, plus the grocery retailer intends to roll out the tool to support fresh-food inventory planning too. “We’ve complete already been given the green light for that phase. Once that’s optimise, we will be able to further optimise the order volumes with our 1,500 suppliers. We expect to then see a further decrease in our stock levels and also a reduction in waste. And if we can then integrate our forecasting process with our big data and CRM activities as well, then we’ll be completely ready for the future.”
ntergamma – with 385 stores throughout the Netherlands and Belgium – has significantly expanded its private label range over the past few years. In fact, the retailer has quadrupled the number of items it purchases directly from manufacturers. The reason is simple: “By doing our own direct sourcing in the Far East, we eliminate inefficiencies and hence costs from the supply chain. In effect, we cut one link out. We invest much of the money this frees up in developing our e-commerce activities,” says Jan-Martijn Sijtsma, Supply chain planning manager at Intergamma.
As a result, Intergamma now has a huge inventory to manage. Stock is kept in the central distribution centre in the Dutch city of Tiel, from where it is shipped to the DIY stores. “Today, cross-docking still accounts for 60% of our shipments from Tiel, with products being immediately allocated to the stores as soon as they arrive in from our suppliers. Only 15 to 20% of goods are shipped from our own stock nowadays,” states Sijtsma. In addition to the Tiel facility, Intergamma has another DC in Eindhoven which stores all the items that do not fit onto a pallet. “In the past, 70% of the goods used to be delivered to the stores directly by our suppliers. We’re keen to turn that around: we’re aiming for 70% in consolidated deliveries via our distribution centres. Right now we’re at 66%, which has already enabled us to eliminate 380,000 deliveries to our stores over the past few years,” continues Sijtsma.
For the online channel, Intergamma has a separate distribution centre in Antwerp where all online orders are picked and packed for dispatch. This includes customer orders for in-store collection. That’s a common scenario, according to Stefan Kooijmans, General Manager of Slimstock in the Netherlands. “A stand-alone operation enables retailers to optimally develop the online channel and to learn as they go. As time goes by, they automatically discover an increasing need for more operational integration and an integral approach to inventory management.
"First grow, then optimise.” Sijtsma echoes that. “We’re increasingly opting to keep inventory as high up in the chain as possible and not to allocate it to a particular channel until the very last minute. In the past, we put 60% of our stock straight into stores. Nowadays, a promotional activity can sometimes mean that 90% of the stock is allocated to the online channel.”
With Slim4, Intergamma gives the right tool to make the right inventory decisions. “Up until four years ago, there was only a small amount of stock in Tiel, so there was little if any pressure to keep inventory down because we had more than enough storage space there. Things have changed now that our private label range has quadrupled. Our stock has grown tremendously and now takes up a significant portion of the working capital. This has created the need to set up effective sales & operations planning,” comments Sijtsma.
He illustrates his point by referring to the inventory turnover rate, which is relatively low in comparison with food retail. Slim4 helps Intergamma to classify stock based on the turnover rate and to select the best inventory strategy at product or product-group level. “The system is capable of generating reliable demand forecasts, even for product groups with a low inventory turnover rate and hence with relatively little data.”
Adjusting the KPIs
But it’s not enough to just have a good tool. In recent years, Intergamma has invested heavily in the internal organisation to improve its overall supply chain performance. One key measure has been to refocus the KPIs, which used to be focused at a departmental level. “That meant that someone was penalized if a particular product was out of stock in the distribution centre, for example. But the question is; did our customers suffer because of that? Now, everyone is evaluated based on the customer service level.”
Altering the KPIs has been a way to change the employee mindset and behaviour – an intensive process, during which Intergamma was thankful for the support it received from Slimstock. As an example, Sijtsma mentions the Slimstock Supply Chain Game, which 140 Intergamma employees played in May 2018. “It’s amazing to see what an effect that has had. A game like that helps us to underline the importance of integral thinking.”
Besides that, Intergamma is investing in employee development. One benefit of Slim4 is that the members of Sijtsma’s team have got more time to spend on tactical and strategic inventory decision-making, but that requires different competencies. Slimstock offers a range of relevant learning opportunities and training courses. People development remains important, explains Kooijmans: “You can give a bad carpenter a better hammer, but that won’t get the job done any quicker. It’s nice that artificial intelligence and machine learning can identify data patterns more quickly and effectively, but you still need people to turn those patterns into tactical decisions.”
All the hard work is already starting to pay off. The inventory turnover rate has improved by an average of 19% while the stock levels have been reduced by 20% and the customer service level is up by 2 to 3 percentage points. Even more importantly perhaps, the other departments within Intergamma are increasingly recognizing the importance of Supply Chain. “We’re no longer merely sitting at the table, but are also actively involved in the discussion. Now, other departments ask us to help them with issues.”
For other retailers, Intergamma is a shining example of the importance of a good strategy. “All the changes stem from the vision that was defined a few years ago. At Intergamma they are executing that strategy step by step, without thinking that they’ve accomplished their goal each time they complete a step,” says Kooijmans. Sijtsma adds: “The strategy is an important pillar of our entire change process. A cultural change like the one we’ve implemented involves lots of discussions with employees and franchisees. In that case it’s good to be able to keep referring to the underlying vision: a flexible and transparent supply chain driven by financial decisions.”
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Over the last 25 year’s Slimstock has grown to become Europe’s market leader in inventory optimisation. Throughout this time, Slimstock enjoyed growth both within Europe but also globally. As part of the business’ strategic focus on growth, Slimstock is now expanding into Oceania to help businesses in the region attain the operational excellence.
In October, Slimstock will launch a new office in Melbourne, Australia. Fleur Smits, together with her husband Aad Smits will move to Melbourne in the coming month to setup the office with the goal of expanding Slimstock’s market and to provide local support to our customers based in Australian and New Zealand.
Customers in Australia and New Zealand can expect closer contact
Aad Smits joined Slimstock more than four years ago and during his time as a consultant, he’s been involved in many different projects with a variety of customers.
“What I like about my job is that we can really help our customers and see the results after we’ve implemented our software, Slim4. In addition to this, it’s great to work for a big range of customers in many different industries. Having completed various implementations at both wholesale and retail customers, this has helped me to understand processes from different perspectives in the supply chain. Because I really believe in our product, I can’t wait to help our Australian and New Zealand customers to optimise their inventories and increase service levels,” Aad Smits, (Country Manager Australia), Slimstock.
Fleur Smits has a wealth of experience, having worked for a multinational in the area of supply chain and management and logistics. Fleur has extensive experience in improving and optimising supply chain flows to reduce costs and improve performance.
“I am really looking forward to opening the office in Australia to deliver full support in Oceania. A local presence will allow us to have very close contact with our customers” explains Fleur, (Business development and Consultancy), Slimstock.
Both are very excited to setup Slimstock’s new business in Australia: “We get a lot of energy by helping our existing and future customers to manage their inventory efficiently and effectively. Of course, it’s great to be given the opportunity to take Slimstock to the other side of the world!”