Is Epicor Poised to Rule the Mid-Market Retail Sector? (Part I)

One renowned vendor seems to have contributed to the 2007 holiday shopping season. That would be Irvine, California, the United States (US)-based Epicor Software Corporation (Nasdaq: EPIC). With over 2,500 employees worldwide and with projected 2007 revenues of $414.5 million (not including the pending acquisition), Epicor is the global leader in the mid-market, serving over 20,000 customers worldwide.

With more than 20 years of operating history (since 1984, including a number of acquisitions and name changes), Epicor today delivers comprehensive enterprise software solutions with a sophistication and maturity that competes with Tier One vendors, but typically at a fraction of the cost associated with these bigger brethren solutions. Namely, these large enterprise systems, though highly functional, have traditionally also been quite complex and expensive to purchase, install, integrate, and maintain.

Epicor designs, develops, markets and supports enterprise applications primarily for use by mid-sized companies. Additionally, it targets the divisions and subsidiaries of larger (Global 1000) corporations worldwide and, lastly, emerging enterprises, which generally consist of companies with annual revenues under $25 million.

Epicor’s business solutions are primarily focused on companies or divisions with between $10 million and $1 billion in annual revenues. For such prospects, the company’s products include back-office applications for manufacturing, supply chain, distribution, and financial accounting, as well as front-office customer relationship management (CRM) applications for sales, marketing and customer service and support.

In addition to offering integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP), CRM, supply chain management (SCM) and professional services automation (PSA) software suites, Epicor has also long provided industry-specific solutions to a range of vertical markets, such as:

  • Epicor’s manufacturing solutions provide integrated ERP solutions for specific types of discrete manufacturers – from a small job shop to a large manufacturer. The key industries on which Epicor focuses its manufacturing solutions include metal fabrication, industrial machinery, automotive, electronics, consumer goods and aerospace. Best product representatives for this target market would be Epicor Vantage [evaluate this product] and Epicor Vista [evaluate this product].

  • Epicor’s distribution solutions focus on inventory and warehouse management, sales and order processing, financials, CRM, and planning and forecasting solutions. They also automate customer acquisition and order management to warehouse fulfillment, accounting and customer service. The distribution suite is best tailored for wholesale distributors including third party logistics providers. Best product representatives for this target market would be Epicor Enterprise [evaluate this product] and Epicor Clientele CRM.NET [evaluate this product].

  • Epicor’s solution for services companies was designed to meet the critical business requirements of mid-sized to larger distributed service organizations. The enterprise service automation (ESA) solution provides service organizations with the tools to improve staff utilization, maximize billing and revenue recognition, optimize resources and increase cash flow. The services suite includes opportunity and bid management, CRM, resource management, and engagement management, project accounting, portfolio and performance management, and collaborative commerce applications tailored for specific industries including financial services, audit and accountancy, architectural, engineering and construction, commercial research, not-for-profit (NFP) organizations, software and computer services, professional services and management consulting. The representative product here is Epicor for Service Enterprises [evaluate this product]; and

  • Last but not least, Epicor has long provided solutions tailored for the hospitality and entertainment industries. The company’s hospitality solutions, designed for food service, hotel, sports and recreation, and other entertainment companies, can manage and streamline virtually every aspect of a hospitality organization — from point-of-sale (POS) or property management system integration, to cash and sales management, food costing, core financials, and business intelligence (BI) — all within a single solution. Besides the above-mentioned Epicor Enterprise product, other representative product here is Epicor iScala [evaluate this product].

Mid 2004, Epicor acquired Scala Business Solutions N.V. , a formerly publicly held software company headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, whose solutions were also based on a Web services platform and utilized Microsoft technologies. However, even better than Epicor's above-mentioned products, Scala’s own software and services supported local currencies and accounting regulations, were available in more than 30 languages, and were used by customers in over 140 countries.

The Scala acquisition has since given Epicor a significantly expanded worldwide presence and synergistic product offerings. In fact, as part of its business strategy, Epicor has pursued acquisitions to expand its customer base, global product offering and geographic footprint. The acquisitions of Scala in 2004 and ROI Systems, Inc. in 2003 are typical of this ongoing strategy.

To diversify its offerings outside of the above four strongholds, in December 2005 (pursuant to a stock purchase agreement for about $120 million), Epicor acquired CRS Retail Technology Group, Inc. CRS was a privately-held provider of merchandising and POS software solutions, hardware and services to the retail industry, with about 130 customers at the time. Within a separate business unit, Epicor/CRS applications continue to leverage Microsoft and Java technologies and the unit has over 50,000 in-store systems installed in 32 countries and 10 languages.

The CRS acquisition provided existing Epicor customers new, complementary product offerings. It also created expanded opportunities in the hospitality and retail vertical, particularly in key international markets through increased marketing, improved sales execution, enhanced viability and worldwide sales and support infrastructure.

Epicor/CRS' retail solutions can support both smaller, single personal computer (PC)-based POS retail outlet scenarios, as well as larger scale, distributed POS environments in specialty, general merchandise retailing and large specialty store chains that require more comprehensive POS, loyalty management and merchandising capabilities.

Looking at the situation from another angle, Epicor/CRS suite can provide both “best-of-breed” point retail solutions for large Tier One retailers, as well as more complete “post-to-host” solutions which can integrate the many elements of the retail supply chain -- from the store register through to the enterprise merchandising, planning, selling and financial applications.

Part II of this blog topic will analyze CRS' contribution to Epicor’s strategy to capitalize on the red-hot retail software market, wherein the traditionally manufacturing- and distribution-oriented vendor took a plunge two years ago. Your views, comments, opinions, etc. about Epicor's overall corporate strategy and/or its moves within any particular sector are customarily welcome in the meantime.
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