The first week of December 2014 was the beginning of a joint effort by JDA and Mega Retail Israel to advance Mega to the current JDA Demand and Fulfillment (D&F)version. Right now Mega has a much older version of D&F that gives us very basic functionality and is heavily customized, making it hard to configure according to our current needs.
My series of blogs over the next 12 months will be an ongoing description of the steps we will take along the way to close a 7 year gap. In terms of retail, this is a really long time.
Since I’m a huge fan of the NFL (National Football League – American Football) I’ve chosen to describe this process in NFL terms. The headline was taken from a saying I heard recently from a senior strategic consultant, Peter Sarris, from JDA’s Global Strategic Services. He said that, “If you want to achieve great things in football, you have to first make sure you get the blocking and the tackling right so the quarterback can make all the fancy stuff happen.” Similarly, if you want to make your supply chain click, you have to first make sure you’ve got the basics figured out.
We’ll talk about those later, now some stats about me:
Name: Shai Garber
Residence: Ashdod, Israel
Education: BA Logistics, MBA
Workplace: Mega Retail (formerly Blue Square Israel)
Position: Demand Planning Manager (first round pick – September 2014)
Seasons 2006-2014: Home Center (DIY Retail Chain) Israel as Supply Chain Planning Manager
Grocery Retail in Israel
The grocery retail sector in Israel is very much the same as in the rest of the developed world. The slight differences I should point out are:
- There is no foreign footprint in the market, nor was there any recent attempt to enter it. It might have something to do with Israel being a relatively small market, but a highly competitive one.
- The majority of supermarkets sell Kosher food, which basically is a religious requirement to preapprove food products by making sure they are produced according to the Jewish religious customs. This makes it harder to import food, and therefore, much of the food needs to be produced locally.
In recent years social media facilitated a large wave of protests regarding the cost of living in Israel. One of the outcomes from this trend is widespread encouragement to use the customer’s power of decision to continue shopping where they used to shop or move away to other options such as discount retailers. This put a great deal of pressure on the existing chains, such Mega Retail, which is the second largest chain with 180 stores nationwide.
Supply Chain Takes the Field
This is the point where the supply chain makes its entrance. We are only in the beginning of establishing the supply chain department and we understand that the key to successfully starting the flow is to get the demand and fulfillment tools in place, especially since we’ve just opened a new state-of-the-art central distribution center.
Pre-Season – Getting Strategic Help
We contacted JDA in order to help us make sure we have the right tools to move our supply chain in the right direction, and to provide Mega Retail with the benefits of an organized supply chain, such as more accurately forecasting sales, lowering stock levels, preventing stock outs, better supporting promotions and, basically, making the supply chain processes as efficient as possible.
Peter Sarris was chosen by JDA EMEA to provide in-depth assessment and he conducted a week of meetings with our team. During these sessions, we tried our best to provide Peter with as much information as possible about our current business processes and the solutions we have in place.
Peter assured us that, for the most part, our challenges are similar to what other companies in our industry are experiencing and that JDA has already developed answers to most of our questions. He also said that we should invest as much in technology as in people and processes. He said it’s like a three-legged stool: if one of the legs is missing (People-Processes- Technology), you will not be able to sit on it. Only when you truly understand what that means can you start the preparations for future progress for your organization.
Imagine playing a football game without an offensive line protecting your quarterback, or without wide receivers and tight ends, or without running backs. It’s not possible to win a game if you don’t have all the positions filled, just as it is not possible to transform your business without alignment of people, process and technology.
I will leave you with this last thought Peter emphasized during his concluding meeting: the supply chain is only as good as the service it provides to the store manager. When you think about being helpful, you should include your store managers’ representatives in all change management initiatives. You have little chance selling your services to people that were not involved in making the decision on the type and quality of that service. Just like you cannot win a game without each and every player knowing exactly what their role is in each offensive play called by your coordinator. Players running around the field without knowing where to go, have an almost zero chance of making positive yardage. Is your whole team in sync?