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Lifting a Veil of Mystery Off Jesta I.S.

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: March 26 2013

Even after nearly 15 years as an enterprise analyst, I still find myself coming across a vendor that has been around for more than 40 years but one that I am not familiar with. One such example is Montreal, Canada-based Jesta I.S., a vendor that delivers integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain management (SCM) solutions to manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers in the apparel, footwear, and specialty retail industries worldwide. Jesta I.S. solutions address the complex business processes, rapidly changing product mix, and short product life cycles faced by manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers in these industries. Jesta I.S. customers, of which there are about 300 global industry leaders, include renowned brands such as Perry Ellis International, PUMA, Genesco Inc., Town Shoes Limited, Cole Haan, Haggar Clothing Co., Cavender’s Boot City, DSW Inc., A|wear, Lotus Supercenter, Fanvision, Jones Apparel Group, Inc., Liz Claiborne Inc., Guess, and many more.

Jesta’s History

Perhaps the reason for Jesta’s lower brand recognition, in addition to its relatively smaller size, is due to having been acquired twice over the last decade and a half. The company was founded in 1968 as Richter Systems. Richter was then acquired by a private equity firm, General Atlantic Partners (GAP), in 1996 and rebranded as Essentus. In 2003, Essentus was purchased by a diversified holding company, the Jesta Group, and reborn as Jesta I.S. In addition to Jesta I.S., the Jesta Group controls Jesta Digital, a mobile digital entertainment and services enterprise, further solidifying the Group’s presence in the technology industry and empowering Jesta I.S. to benefit from synergies and vertical integration between the two enterprises.

Since the Jesta Group’s acquisition, more than $40 million (CAD) has reportedly been invested in product development and company expansion (with offices in Montreal, Los Angeles, New York City, Berlin, London, and Paris). Jesta I.S. has recently seen a number of new customer wins and footprint expansions at its existing customers.

Jesta I.S. has had the same broad functionality (supporting sourcing, demand management, merchandize, move, sell, plan, service processes, store operations; see figure 1) and deep industry savvy for more than four decades. Jesta I.S. recently rewrote its flagship Vision Suite for Oracle database in Java language. Jesta I.S. Vision Suite software is geared toward retailers, manufacturers, and distributors in the apparel, footwear, and soft goods industries. The broad retail suite consists of near–real time Web-based applications that are designed to help manage business processes in the areas of merchandising, merchandize lifecycle management (MLM), planning, SCM, and warehouse management, as well as financial management and analytics (see figure 2). The vendor partners for retail product lifecycle management (PLM), point of sale (POS) hardware, and store task execution capabilities.

In other words, Jesta I.S. Vision Suite is a well-rounded, reasonably priced, and high-touch customer care alternative offering to Epicor Retail, SAP Retail, Oracle Retail, JDA Software, Raymark Retail Systems, Microsoft Dynamics, etc., for retailers and their suppliers.

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Figure 1

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Figure 2

Meeting Jesta I.S. at NRF 2013

Jesta I.S budgets for only a handful of events every year. But, the company has long been an exhibitor and a part of the annual National Retail Federation (NRF) BIG Retail Show Conference in New York City. At the recently held NRF 2013, Jesta’s main announcements were along the lines of actionable business intelligence (BI), mobility, and multichannel delivery as well as about some recent wins, particularly in the more vibrant Latin American and Southeast Asian markets.

To discuss the aforementioned issues and Jesta I.S. current state of affairs, we recently spoke to Arvind Gupta, executive vice president of development and client strategy at Jesta I.S. Mr. Gupta possesses a unique ability for critically analyzing broad macroeconomic and technology trends affecting industries, and synthesizing those trends into tactical process improvement and information technology (IT) solution development roadmaps.

arvind-gupta.jpg

TEC: How would you describe Jesta I.S. ideal customer profile? What particular underserved market needs do you fulfill in contrast to the traditional big-ticket retail ERP or SCM providers?
AG: A typical customer is a mid-to-large–sized company in the fashion, apparel, and footwear (FAF) or apparel, footwear, and accessories (AFA) industry. We are one of the only few independent software vendors (ISVs) in this space who can deliver a complete purpose-built solution industry. For instance, a vertically integrated fashion brand firm could use our solutions to manage all core supply chain functions from raw material management to delivering finished goods in the hands of consumers via our in-store POS solution.

TEC: What about the Vision Suite’s ability to cater to the needs of both retailers and their suppliers, i.e., soft goods and consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers, with your offering?
AG: Our supply management and procurement solution is particularly well suited for FAF and AFA suppliers. For retailers in the CPG space, we have deep capabilities from forecasting to demand management.

TEC: Have multitenant software-as-a-service (SaaS) and on-demand capabilities become a major drive, i.e., is the availability of these options an order qualifier or order winner yet? What percentage of Jesta I.S. customers are in the cloud?
AG: Yes, we are increasingly hearing a lot more interest from our small to medium business (SMB) customer base about our multitenant SaaS offering (see more info here). At the enterprise spectrum, current and future clients are still only at the initial stages of their adoption of ERP systems in the cloud. We still have less than 10 percent of our current customer base in the cloud.

TEC: What is Jesta I.S. current partner ecosystem, i.e., who are its major system integrator (SI), ISV, resellers, and other partners?
AG: We are continuously expanding our partner ecosystem. Some of our key ISV and implementation partners are Deloitte, Americaneagle.com, NCR (for POS hardware), Visual 2000 (for retail PLM), and ITR Software (for assortment and size/pack optimization).

TEC: Has your market and competitive landscape changed of late and how? What trends have you noticed in the market?
AG: Our market and competitive landscape are continually evolving, particularly in the consumer-facing e-commerce, mobile, and in-store solutions space. The two biggest trends we are seeing are as follows:

  1. More emphasis on offering a channel-agnostic (multichannel, including mobile channel) single enterprise view
    (see more info here)

  2. Higher expectations for getting on-demand and cloud services


TEC: Which products, regions, and retail segments have been the most active as of late for Jesta I.S.? What do you foresee in 12 to 18 months, more of the same or not?
AG: We are seeing tremendous growth in queries from North American specialty retailers within the AFA industry. In addition, we are seeing opportunities from the Southeast Asian markets.

TEC: Would you like to elaborate on Jesta I.S. differentiation in terms of customer satisfaction?
AG: Our success has been based on remaining true to a set of principles that deliver on the partnership proposal. We have worked with more than 300 clients worldwide to successfully address their manufacturing, distribution, and retail challenges and help them achieve their business objectives. Our company size allows us to form close relationships with our customers that result in above-average customer satisfaction ratings and successful projects that deliver rapid business benefits.

We pride ourselves on implementing what we develop and ensure that our implementation and development practices result in solutions that not only quickly address our customers’ business challenges, but also are quickly deployed. This results not only in rapid speed to benefit, but also among the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) in the industry. But beside having this unique customer partnership model, I would like to again point out that our biggest differentiator is the fact that we are probably one of the only ISV firms with solutions that address all parts of the supply chain (from raw material to delivery of finished goods in the hands of consumers via brick-and-mortar stores and online channels) for vertically integrated and multichannel brands and retailers.

Some Strategic Discussion

TEC: What are the evident remaining retail white spaces in Jesta I.S. Vision Suite and how does the company plan to fill them? For example, what about planograms or space planning; workforce scheduling and task management; price, assortment, and size optimization; e-commerce/multichannel order management (call centers, chat services, etc.); POS hardware; payments; fashion PLM; etc.?
AG: We have no plans to be in the hardware distribution business. Within the core applications space, we are looking to expand our distributed order management (DOM) applications to include pure e-commerce application platform. In fact, we are looking to release our business-to-business (B2B) application later this summer. We have already expanded our product offering to include PLM capabilities, as announced at NRF 2012. Ultimately, we have plans to expand our assortment planning and forecasting engine to power size/pack optimization components of our application suite.

TEC: What are your social and mobility strategies, and what is coming out soon?
AG: We have a significant research and development (R&D) budget going toward mobility. In a nutshell, we are looking to bring mobility in all aspects of our in-store POS, back-office, and BI apps. In addition, we are trying to introduce white label consumer-facing mobile apps that will have a tight integration layer with social media.

TEC: What is your high-volume retail analytics (big data) strategy, e.g., customer analytics, social analytics, etc? Are there any generally available offerings?
AG: We are still in the process of flushing out the details of our big data strategy. Most likely, we will be leveraging our cubed data warehouse offering to introduce in-memory capabilities powered by Oracle Exadata and Exalytics.

TEC: Would you like to provide any opinion on the recent mega merger between JDA Software and RedPrairie, and whether it has any bearing on Jesta I.S.?
AG: Nothing other than the fact that we are suddenly seeing an increased volume of queries originating from JDA’s incumbent customers.

Recommended Reading

Epicor Retail: Behind the Counter. April 24, 2012.
NRF 2013 Highlights: Technology Driving Customer-centric Retail. March 12, 2013.
Order Management, and the Rise of Multichannel Commerce. March 5, 2013.
RedPrairie and JDA Software Merger, Part Three: What Does it Mean for Manhattan Associates and Other SCM Players? December 6, 2012.
SAP as a Retail Market Force: More Fact Than Fiction. January 4, 2012.
What’s Microsoft’s Retail Play? February 20, 2012.
 
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