Speeding up Sales

By Andrew Hess  |  Posted 2009-09-22 Print this article Print

Global retailer Fossil improves job processing and speeds up customer orders with a workload automation system.

As a global retailer with more than 300 company-owned stores, Fossil, headquartered in Richardson, Texas, has been enjoying double-digit growth for decades. To handle the vast increase in orders—especially during the holiday season—the company implemented a global ERP system.

Unfortunately, the system’s job scheduler wasn’t robust enough and couldn’t integrate with Fossil’s legacy applications, according to Andy Hess, vice president of wholesale applications. The solution? A workload automation system that dynamically links processes across applications, allows jobs to be prioritized based on system availability, and gives Hess and his team an end-to-end view of all processes.

Fossil, a retailer with more than 300 company-owned stores, entered the global market rapidly through a series of international acquisitions. However, these independent distributors were not integrated into our main system, so we had multiple warehouses but no cohesion.

Like most businesses, we grew by finding creative solutions to technology challenges, and this resulted in a complex IT environment. In 2002, we were running on JBA’s ERP system for midmarket retailers, along with PkMS, an IBM AS/400-based warehouse management system from Manhattan Associates.

As a global company, there are no quiet periods in our day, aside from the four-hour slot after close of business on the U.S. West Coast. As a result, we used to constantly shift processes based on priority. During the peak selling season, we couldn’t get through all the nightly jobs because we had many more orders, returns and shipments. In fact, we do about 50 percent of our business from September through December.

Because our IT systems couldn’t keep up, delivery speed suffered, and we couldn’t make real-time distribution decisions. Our team was incredibly resourceful in organizing job streams so customer service wasn’t affected, but keeping track of the processes across applications and computing platforms was consuming a lot of our employees’ time.

Andrew Hess, vice president of wholesale applications for Fossil, is responsible for the company’s worldwide IT applications that support wholesale sales and distribution, accounting and HR. Prior to joining Fossil in 2004, he spent 12 years in technology consulting for numerous Fortune 500 corporations around the world.

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