RedPrairie Corporation is an Alpharetta, Georgia, United States (US)–based provider of best of breed supply chain execution (SCE), workforce and all-channel retail solutions. Many of the world’s leading businesses rely on RedPrairie solutions to streamline and expedite the flow of goods from raw materials into the hands of the consumer. RedPrairie was founded in 1975 as McHugh Freeman & Associates, a consulting and systems development firm offering general warehouse management solutions, with the first packaged systems appearing in the mid-1980s. RedPrairie’s flagship warehouse management system (WMS) has undergone extensive development over the years to become today’s industry-leading Warehouse Management (WM).
In the 1990s RedPrairie was the first WMS vendor to add transportation and workforce management applications to create an integrated supply chain execution suite. To mark this transition to a new cross-functional supply chain systems innovator, the company changed its name to RedPrairie in 2002. In 2004, RedPrairie significantly expanded its international sales and services personnel through its acquisition of LIS, providing a workforce with local business culture, language, and market expertise in Europe and Asia Pacific. The company has continued to expand internationally and now has operations on six continents (with more than 20 sales and service offices and 1,600 employees) and more than 60,000 customer sites in over 50 countries.
Tackling the “Buy Anywhere—Fulfill Anywhere” Nirvana
In 2006, RedPrairie recognized the growing impact of retail in the world economy and the new supply chain fulfillment challenges retailers face in today’s consumer-driven all-channel environment. Since success in retail is so dependent on effective management of inventory and the workforce—areas RedPrairie pioneered in supply chain operations—the company acquired BlueCube and StorePerform, two leading vendors of retail workforce, store inventory and task management systems. Combining these assets gave RedPrairie the enviable position of helping its customers manage their inventory and workforces across all facets of the supply chain and retail store operations—manufacturing, distribution, in transit, in stores.
The rise of the consumer-driven marketplace, aided by a plethora of new mobile devices and social networks, has lately changed the way companies must manage their supply chains and customer interactions. RedPrairie has once again been at the forefront of supporting customers in this transformation by providing all-channel commerce solutions to manage this “Buy Anywhere—Fulfill Anywhere” environment. Accordingly, as a logical extension of its supply chain and store operations suite, RedPrairie acquired Escalate Retail in early 2011. RedPrairie now uses the tagline “Commerce in Motion” to represent this expanded vision and offering.
RedPrairie is thus further expanding its Retail platform by incorporating the aforementioned acquired assets through a phased approach, putting it in a position to offer immediate value to its customers. Moreover, through tighter integration, RedPrairie increases that value over time in the following ways:
- Interface development—The vendor first addresses the interfaces between solutions—in some cases productizing interfaces that are already deployed today. An example of this is the e-commerce to WMS interface that is deployed at a leading apparel retailer. This serves to define and drive communication between the components and use of common services, such as ‘single sign-on.’
- Usability—RedPrairie considers those components of its platform that are used by each individual persona (retail store manager, warehouse manager, store clerk, warehouse operator, planner, etc.)—so that users of several RedPrairie components have a consistent, familiar experience. This results in a common look-and-feel of all of its assets for a persona, and reduces training time as well as increases adoption.
- Architecture Alignment—Finally, the vendor integrates the architectural components, behind the scenes, which is important to the IT departments of its customers. This leads to database reconciliation, common architecture, common tool sets, etc.
Examples of key integration initiatives are as follows:
• Commerce Platform integration with Enterprise Visibility and Warehouse Management. This will enable “Order Anywhere, Fulfill” from one or more distribution centers (DCs).
• Integration of Store Inventory (Perpetual Inventory) with Enterprise Visibility. This will enable Order Anywhere, Fulfill from DCs or stores.
The Outlook and Differentiation
WMS has always been RedPrairie’s bell-weather product suite and continues to generate over half of its revenue. It sees a lot of interest and expects growth is in the Enterprise Workforce Management (EWFM) suite—almost all WMS deals include WFM, as do most retail store deals, plus there are continued stand-alone sales. Since companies in all industries and geographies are looking to support the gradual economic recovery by increasing the productivity of existing staff across all functional areas, EWFM will be central to those initiatives and a strong source of growth for RedPrairie.
RedPrairie also projects strong growth for its TMS product, for which there is significant demand. RedPrairie’s TMS is a strong, global offering with the differentiation in offering transportation planning and execution, fleet, and parcel shipment—all optimized through a single optimization engine.
But clearly the strongest growth engine for RedPrairie will be its expanded retail suite. With its all-channel suite of retail applications, the vendor offers a Buy Anywhere—Fulfill Anywhere solution that is both unmatched in the marketplace and is tightly aligned with the demand of the retail market. With this and the company’s persona-based mobile applications, clienteling (using data about an individual customer's buying habits and preferences during interactions in the store, typically applied in high-end or luxury retail stores), and integration with shipping capabilities, RedPrairie hopes to provide a unique value proposition for omni-channel commerce owing to complete network visibility to inventory in-transit, and across all warehouses, stores, satellite facilities, and drop-ship vendors.
RedPrairie’s solutions can thus eliminate the “black holes” created by lack of inventory position information at certain nodes in the network. This helps to lower overall days-on-hand inventory levels across the network as well as lower operational costs by eliminating manual data entry for inventory that is received from an out-of-network facility. All-commerce order fulfillment capabilities aim to provide 100 percent fulfillment of any order against the inventory that resides in the network. This is done through an order sourcing engine that views inventory across the entire network (warehouses, stores, and drop-ship sites).
Other distinct value propositions of RedPrairie come from the following capabilities:
- Inventory and Workforce Planning that are both based on a single forecast. RedPrairie’s singular Forecasting engine is used to predict the consumer demand that will influence both the inventory and employee staffing requirements, which eliminate duplicate or conflicting forecasting and execution strategies.
- In retail stores, the integration of WFM, task management, and clienteling provides a complete workforce enablement suite that is unique in the marketplace. It allows retailers to not only reduce costs, but also increase revenue by increasing promotional/merchandising effectiveness and improving customer service.
- Hundreds of facilities, running some of the largest, most complex, and highest volume sites across the globe, are currently using a common and proven supply chain SOA architecture. RedPrairie’s product suite offers a low total cost of ownership (TCO) to clients compared with the disparate products from other providers with unproven scalability.
RedPrairie’s sweet spot customers vary by product suite and industry, but in general the ideal prospects for the vendor’s offerings are as follows:
- WMS—Manufacturers, retailers and distributors/wholesalers of all sizes, as well as third-party logistics (3PL) providers that serve these companies, which have complex distribution operations—often with multiple large facilities, global supply networks, and multiple distribution channels.
- WFM for Supply Chain—Similar to WMS, but also including at least 40 distribution workers in each facility.
- TMS—Companies with at least $5 million (USD) in annual transportation spend, especially those with multiple modes of transportation including ocean, air, multi-modal, private or dedicated fleets, and parcel.
- WFM for Retail/Task Management—Retailers with at least 100 stores
- Commerce Solutions—Retailers, manufacturers, and distributors/wholesalers who sell through multiple channels such as stores, online, social, call centers, and mobile
Key verticals into which the above supply chain management (SCM) products are sold include retail, consumer packaged goods (CPG), life sciences, grocery, food & beverage (F&B), discrete/industrial manufacturing, and 3PL providers.
Retail segments through which RedPrairie’s omni-channel retail suite is marketed include specialty, big box, grocery, and general merchandise, especially those that sell through multiple channels. RedPrairie’s retail products are also sold in strong niche markets in petroleum/convenience and food service.
RedPrairie’s Product Marketing Team Speaks Out
What follows is an in-depth, enlightening, and candid conversation with RedPrairie’s seasoned product marketing team and solution experts (RP).
PJ: What were the major highlights in 2011, and what do you expect in 2012, regarding demand for your solutions across different territories and product lines/modules?
RP: 2011 has been very interesting. With our expansion into commerce solutions, we have defined a new segment in supply chain—combining all-channel order capture with our multi-channel fulfillment suite to uniquely support the new realities of the marketplace. This is a time of great upheaval and transformation in retail and consumer industries. Everyone is trying to figure out how to survive and thrive in the new all-channel world. We feel our combined assets, which position us at the crossroads of supply chain and retail, give us a unique value proposition to support customers that will profit from this transformation.
We have also made significant investment in our TMS suite over the past 2 years and have seen renewed interest and success there. We feel TMS will be a strong growth area for us going forward.
In 2012 retailers, consumer products, and food & beverage companies, and high tech/electronics companies will look to establish or expand their presence in all-channel commerce. This will require them to design their operations around consumer touchpoints and fulfillment operations rather than channels. The emergence of an ever-increasing number of mobile, social, and local touchpoints with consumers, and the need to provide a consistent image and services across these touchpoints, will give rise to new ways of interacting with customers that older technologies do not support. Retailers will have to plan their inventory and schedule their workforce across the enterprise to handle processes such as order online—pick up in store, endless aisle, fulfillment and delivery from store, and many others. They will also need to equip sales associates with mobile devices and clienteling apps to better serve customers who may be comparing shopping online within the store.
Consumer goods, F&B, high tech, and other manufacturers who supply retailers will have to not only support these new retail processes, but likewise service their own emerging e-commerce operations. These new requirements for interacting with consumers across all channels consistently, efficiently, and on the consumer’s timetable will require a new class of enterprise applications. RedPrairie is uniquely positioned to supply these applications with the integrated suite we have created in 2011.
PJ: What were the major highlights from your recent RedShift 2011 user conference?
RP: RedShift 2011 was our largest, and from the feedback we received, our best conference ever. The energy level and enthusiasm of our audience was extremely high. We launched our new corporate theme of “Commerce in Motion,” which reflects our broader footprint from our acquisitions. And we had demonstrations of both the acquired systems and enhancements to our existing suites. But we think the enthusiasm, besides reflecting a more positive attitude toward the economy, stemmed more from excitement at where RedPrairie is going and what it means for our customers than any specific announcement or event. RedPrairie staffers and our customers are generally excited about what we’re doing and want to be part of it. By once again redefining the supply chain, we have created some excitement that, from what we have heard, was lacking at other conferences.
We also had a great deal of excitement and record attendance at our RedShift events in Europe and Latin America. For example, we had over 350 attendees at RedShift LATAM in Mexico City in October.
PJ: Has the rising price of gas (yet again) positively influenced the sales of your TMS solution or is it not yet the major driving factor?
RP: Fuel prices are certainly mentioned in the sales cycles we have had the opportunity to be involved in. But it doesn’t seem to be the single driving factor. It is a large component of the return on investment (ROI) and it clearly helps push companies to make a decision or to initiate a cost-saving project. It is something our prospects bring up, especially when they talk about fuel surcharge programs, but it is not why they look to implement a TMS.
The TMS deals are still driven by the need for better planning and visibility, and not just “shipment status” for visibility, but knowing what is going on across the network and having supporting data for all shipping information in one place to report and act upon. Prospects also want better control of overall costs, inbound movements, cross business planning, and integrating TMS with our WMS to complement the supply chain processes. These are some of the reasons we see that have longer-term impact than the volatile price of fuel.
Back in 2007/2008, the price climb caught a lot of companies flat-footed and they were aggressively looking for cost relief. But currently, this is not the case, because most companies are already factoring in the higher cost of fuel in their operating budgets, or they have contingency plans for future price spikes.
PJ: How are your major system integrator (SI), independent software vendor (ISV), and other partnerships going?
RP: Over the past 6 months, RedPrairie has invested significantly in building and expanding our partner ecosystem. We believe that by establishing strategic and reciprocal relationships with industry leading organizations—from complementary software, hardware, and services providers, to VARs and Fortune 500 consultancies, we are well positioned to drive increased demand for RedPrairie solutions and bolster market share.
We have established the best practices, infrastructure, and resources to support strategic relationships that drive exponential revenue opportunities for RedPrairie and our partner community. Through the RedPrairie Partner Network (RPN), our formalized partner program dedicated to helping our customers achieve the best possible outcomes and return on their RedPrairie software investment, we are creating the momentum for wider adoption of RedPrairie software and services, globally. The breadth of our partner program includes leading products, compelling incentives, tiered education and training programs, along with competitive marketing tools. Our solutions are designed to speed project deployment and improve efficiency for our customers, while reducing TCO.
The expectation and mandate set by our executive team that RedPrairie adopt a partner-friendly, collaborative approach to conducting business is resonating internally and externally. As a result, companies are eager to align with RedPrairie and are accelerating their activities with our company—driving new market opportunities that previously were not visible to the organization. Some of our recent achievements include the following:
- Regional Growth & Expansion: We have forged new relationships and strengthened existing partnerships with localized resellers, consultancies, and other agencies focused on delivering supply chain excellence in those areas that could potentially present cultural and language barriers to entry by RedPrairie. Most notably, our recent entry into Brazil, Columbia, and Chile, as well as increased presence into markets where we are already embedded in, such as Mexico and Canada, has contributed to deeper ties with partners in the region and opened up new opportunities for revenue growth.
- Reseller Business: Our hardware reseller unit, RedPrairie Advantage, is strategically teaming with our key technology partners to drive opportunities through co-funded and targeted demand generation activities and account teaming. RedPrairie Advantage provides our customers with value-added hardware and services that truly round out our software solution offering and extend the reach of our customer base.
- Opportunity Alignment: Through collaborative efforts with prominent supply chain consultancies and leading-edge technology partners, we are mapping out solutions areas, verticals, and geographies to identify market opportunities, create joint business plans, and execute on teaming engagements. We strive to team up with partners on every deal, providing our customers with an unbeatable, end-to-end solution—from the plant floor to the consumer’s door.
- Proof of Performance: Ensuring our solutions meet the diverse needs of our customers is critical, as is the ability to prove our solution performance and ROI. Through our partnerships with leading technology firms, we are providing customers and prospective clients with the confidence needed to fully engage RedPrairie as their vendor of choice. RedPrairie solutions provide our mutual customers with unparalleled opportunities to maximize revenue potential and achieve competitive differentiation.
- Innovation & Speed to Market: We are continually on the lookout for opportunities to drive innovation for our customers. Through our relationships with technology leaders, such as Microsoft and HP, we are uncovering the potential associated with many of today’s consumer-based technologies, such as tablets and smartphones, to provide our customers with improved workflow and lower cost of deployment. Microsoft recently elevated RedPrairie to a globally managed, strategic ISV—one of only 57 managed accounts among Microsoft’s more than 75,000 partners and the only one focused solely on supply chain and retail. Our solutions are now on display at Microsoft’s Retail Experience Center in Redmond, Washington, where more than 200 Tier 1 retail and CPG executives visit each year to evaluate supply chain solutions.
In summary, RedPrairie is well positioned to collaboratively approach the market with a diverse ecosystem of partner companies to ensure that our customers receive the highest caliber of service, delivery, and support, as well as innovation and industry thought leadership.
Keeping Abreast of Technology Trends
PJ: What percentage of your customers is software as a service (SaaS)/on demand? Has that capability become the order qualifier and/or winner in your market?
RP: Approximately 15% of our customers are SaaS/on demand. The majority of those customers are in the retail store space. We’ve also seen tremendous growth with our On Demand WMS solution and our hosted TMS solution.
Many of our customers are now asking for hosted/on-demand options. A smaller number are interested in pure (multitenant) SaaS. This interest comes from both new prospects and existing customers that are upgrading. We already have cloud applications in a number of areas, such as our WMS and TMS as cloud solutions. But we also have some collaborative apps for inventory visibility and traceability and are working on more.
PJ: What is your strategy toward social tools and roles-based user experience, and their deployment for your target customers?
RP: RedPrairie’s Retail Suite enables collaboration and connectedness in a myriad of ways. Let’s deal with this in various categories, based on personas/organizations:
Suppliers & Retailers
- RedPrairie Connect facilitates electronic data interchange (EDI) between the suppliers and the retailers.
Retailers & Employees
Our Enterprise Workforce’s Employee Self-service—provides a mobile interface for employees to view schedules, request time-off, punch-in, punch-out, and swap shifts.
Task Management—enables communication of corporate strategy to the employees in an actionable manner, available on a mobile device, whether in the store, DC, or in the field.
Corrective Actions—employees are automatically notified of corrective actions to be taken as various thresholds are exceeded.
Employees & Employees
- Shift hand-offs—mobile task list hand-off.
- Escalations—escalate issues to the individual/roles that can solve a problem—e.g., inventory not received for promotion landing in 2 days.
Retailers & Customers
- Various touchpoints are established with the customer for order capture and inquiry—these include e-commerce and m-commerce, contact centers and kiosks, and social commerce and clienteling. Of course, given the nature of technology development, new touchpoints come online annually.
- Social shopping is a developing model shifting beyond consumers signifying ‘like’ with respect to products and services and friends’ purchases. We enable retailers to offer social shopping, be it a page on a social site to actually enabling social commerce.
PJ: What is your business intelligence (BI)/performance management (PM) strategy, so that your customers can determine, say, total cost to serve (TCS) or total landing cost (TLC), and based on which BI/PM stack?
RP: We use a common BI approach across all our products. It is based on Microsoft technologies, but it can support other mainstream BI tools for the presentation layer. With a single tool, we provide unique and powerful sets of performance metrics that serve the needs of the corporate executives as well as the departmental supervisors. For example, an executive can see the impact of changing store delivery schedules on both freight costs and in-store sales, or the impact of higher in-store labor on customer conversion rates.
What we are working on is inline analytics, which is using the wealth of real-time data we capture in the normal course of operations to adjust execution on the fly based on what is happening. We think that some pundits saying BI in SCM is moving from historical to predictive analytics is really misleading because the purpose of BI has always been to use historical data to predict the future. Why else would you bother? What we think is that more timely data (what we call inline) will more accurately reflect what is happening right now. This makes predictions more accurate.
PJ: What is your mobility strategy (technology and platforms supported)? Has mobility become the factor in your market segments?
We are focusing on the end user to provide the best possible experience that spans our traditional consumer, workforce, inventory, and transportation product boundaries. We see a future where the store, the warehouse, and the truck will be run from a mobile device with solutions that are available at the fingertips of our users, always on and available where they stand, serving the customer, picking up, or delivering an order. We envision a world where a consumer can shop and return products from anywhere and our customers can fulfill, ship, and track orders from anywhere, whether purchased online at home, in the coffee shop on their smartphone, or in the store. We will provide tools to associates, managers, executives, warehouse supervisors and workers, truck drivers, and logistics coordinators to ensure they stay in touch with the consumer, ensure inventory remains in transit and in stock, and keeps executives in control to support their world of commerce in motion.
We are looking to bring solutions to the store first, focused on the associate and manager. We will lead with mobile employee self-service and store manager functionality, including tools to view upcoming shifts, timecards, request time-off, update availability, and focus on exceptions for managers around the schedule, overtime, timecards, etc. We are also launching a field manager tool on Apple iPhone and iPad, where managers can conduct store walks and audits, to ensure accuracy and quality of merchandising activities in the store.
We have a number of mobile apps and continue to add new ones all the time. Especially in retail, you have to have mobile apps to be in the game. Social commerce is something we handle through our e-commerce suite. It is another form of order management, which front-ends our fulfillment process.
A “No Holds Barred” Competitive Discussion
PJ: Has your competitive landscape changed of late, and how and why do you continue to win over or conversely lose to these competitors?
RP: As RedPrairie’s business has grown and matured over the years, the list of competitors has both grown and changed. In the early years, there were six or seven major competitors offering WMS solutions. As RedPrairie grew and expanded our offerings, several of these were purchased by other firms or fell behind as the market shifted to the integrated SCE approach RedPrairie pioneered. As we changed the market again with our expansion into retail operations, we gained new point solution competitors, as well as offered alternatives to some of the larger retail suite vendors, while we also differentiated ourselves from our traditional supply chain competition.
This differentiation was further extended this year with our addition of all-channel commerce capabilities. Today, RedPrairie is uniquely positioned at the crossroads of retail and supply chain, offering an all-channel “Buy Anywhere—Fulfill Anywhere” commerce suite not available from any other vendor. So while we have many more competitors across this broad spectrum, we provide a unique value proposition.
Therefore, we win deals against competitors when we are able to demonstrate that our approach and suite best match the needs of the customer. We are not trying to be a “retail ERP” provider and will continue to focus on our supply chain vision from order capture through delivery to the consumer. We win when we do a good job of understanding the customer’s needs and demonstrate how our solutions meet those needs. In this respect, we are “solutions sellers,” not competitive sellers—we could care less what the competition is doing or offering because we know we have the systems and services to meet the customer’s needs. In fact, many customers mention this RedPrairie culture as a key decision point.
PJ: Regarding my recent articles on your divergence from (or convergence with) Manhattan Associates (see article), do you concur with the article, and why or why not?
RP: We concur with the premise of your article that Manhattan and RedPrairie have taken very different paths, but we think your characterization of us going downstream to the shelf while they go upstream with planning perhaps needs a more nuanced explanation. Yes, we have certainly gone down to the very detailed level of item inventory and sales within the store, but we also have our Flowcasting planning tool, which is very granular in discerning demand at the item/store level and in calculating the impact back up through the supply chain.
When talking about planning you have to be careful to differentiate between long-range and short-range planning. Long-range planning is what supply chain planning (SCP) applications have handled well for a long time. These are really disconnected from SCE because they deal with different issues. Where SCP has failed is in trying to bring the timeline down closer to execution because the data isn't current enough to be effective. Our Flowcasting application solves this problem by using near real-time data to adjust the plan on a daily basis.
Therefore, although we found your articles to be excellent, we feel the comparison of our differentiators is perhaps too simplistic. Math, IT tools, and supply chain capabilities are all required to make it happen—one needs to know inventory and the labor situation in stores and the retail supply chain.
PJ: In light of my recent series on Manhattan’s business process–based supply chain platform (with the example of multi-channel retail order fulfillment—see latest article), what is your stance toward their approach, and what is your differing approach?
RP: Although we understand it is the analysts’ job to compare and contrast vendors, we concentrate on providing the best solutions possible for our customers. As we stated earlier, we feel we have taken a unique course that is different from that of our competitors.
In regard to multi-channel retail order fulfillment, we feel it is essential to have visibility to both the actual inventory within each store and the availability of the workforce to perform the associated tasks in order to fulfill orders efficiently, accurately, and within the customer’s desired timeframe. RedPrairie is the only vendor who combines the full supply chain execution suite of applications with in-store inventory and workforce visibility and management to accomplish true all-channel fulfillment.
We have leveraged an SOA-based platform for 15 years and have managed to offer our customers access to all of the latest technologies without ever having to replace our core architecture. We feel this brings our customers a lower TCO and much greater value for their investments in the long term.
PJ: What issues/challenges are still keeping your top management up at night?
RP: What keeps our management awake at night is trying to figure out ways to help our customers deal with the many challenges they face in this fast-changing and volatile new marketplace. Issues such as how to leverage their limited IT budgets to deal with new business challenges—e.g., all-channel commerce, social and mobile commerce, volatile fuel costs, increased global competition, etc.
It’s our job to bring innovative solutions to our customers’ challenges and that isn’t easy. But it leads to things like our Buy Anywhere—Fulfill Anywhere product suite, or On-Demand WMS and TMS suites that help customers successfully deal with new challenges and create competitive advantage in their businesses. Ever since we rebranded to RedPrairie we have had the mantra that we succeed when our customers succeed. Our execs and all employees keep awake trying to find new ways of accomplishing this through innovative products and services.
PJ: Some indications are that SAP has (at long last) reached WMS and TMS parity with best-of-breed products, in its latest releases. How do you plan to protect your staying power in SAP’s install base?
RP: We continue to add value every day for our SAP customers. Many of our clients who run SAP ERP have committed to upgrading our solutions rather than switch to the less robust supply chain solutions. We believe our product functionality continues to exceed that of any ERP provider.
WMS—Our WMS solution provides comprehensive functionality to support a larger set of vertical markets, such as retail, F&B, CPG, high-tech, 3PL, and automotive. It also has stronger capabilities that provide richer operational value in areas such as slotting, engineered labor standards, and task interleaving.
TMS—Our TMS solution provides functionality to support a broad area of transportation processes, including core carrier, fleet, and parcel, for both shippers and logistics services providers. SAP is in the process of releasing its TMS in a controlled manner.
PJ: What are the evident remaining “white spaces” in your offering (e.g., pricing optimization and merchandizing in retail, global trade management [GTM] in general, etc.) and how do you plan to fill them?
RP: While you and other analysts have suggested there are “white spaces” in our product suite because we don’t offer a full retail enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite (pricing optimization, merchandise planning, plan-o-gram development, point of sale [POS], etc.), we don’t necessarily agree. Our vision is not to be a retail ERP vendor. We are very focused on the supply chain aspects of retail—order capture, inventory, workforce, and transportation. We talk in terms of customer order lifecycle management (our Buy Anywhere—Fulfill Anywhere suite). While we continue to look at development and acquisition opportunities to broaden our retail suite, it is not our intention to be a full-suite merchandizing or ERP vendor.
Our acquisition plans fall into two primary categories. First are acquisitions that help us fill out our product offerings. For retail, this may include price optimization, mobile-based POS, or other applications directly related to enhancing the Buy Anywhere—Fulfill Anywhere supply chain. For supply chain, it would most likely be to augment our TMS suite, although GTM is not a specific target at this time.
The second acquisition area is to expand global coverage into areas where we do not have strong local coverage yet. This could be in certain parts of EMEA, South America, or Asia-Pac.
However, more acquisitions are not imminent, as we have a strong focus on integrating and leveraging the four acquisitions we made in the past year. That being said, if the right opportunity should present itself, we would not hesitate to act.
The Future of Retailing
PJ: Have you been seeing any customer interest in marrying the needs of retailers and CPG manufacturers (and their success thereafter)?
RP: There is a massive transformation going on in retail and CPG with the challenges that the socially connected, relentlessly mobile consumer presents to all companies that deal directly with consumers or support those who do. CPG companies are experiencing the impact that social, mobile, and local shopping capabilities are having on the buying behavior of consumers, as the use of personalized technologies continues to grow. Consumers are demanding more, and these demands are translating into new business models that aren’t just delivering products but “solutions” to consumers. This is making serving today’s consumers even more challenging and puts additional pressure on an already complex supply chain.
By adding the Commerce Suite of products to our robust SCE platform, CPG companies now can leverage the industry’s leading solutions for e-commerce, and call center to engage and interact with the consumer, along with inventory/warehouse management, workforce management, and transportation management to deliver a great consumer experience at the optimal cost.
One integrated specialty apparel company, for example, has had a history of demonstrated success leveraging the e-commerce, contact center, and WMS solutions that are now a part of the RedPrairie offering, to enable efficient all-channel commerce to delight its customers, whether they are making their purchases online, on the phone, or in the store.
PJ: Is there anything that you are at liberty to volunteer on the company's future moves, i.e., new functional scope, verticals, etc.?
RP: The main focus is on integrating the recently acquired assets, both the retail products and the on-demand capabilities. With our new Commerce in Motion branding, our messaging is built upon the need for retailers, and those companies such as CPG and F&B that supply retail, to support the Buy Anywhere—Fulfill Anywhere paradigm of today’s consumer-driven marketplace. Spreading that message into the marketplace is likely a 12–18 month process.
Likewise, we recently strengthened our position in the on-demand/SaaS marketplace by launching our On-Demand Supply Chain business unit that combines our SaaS WMS offering with a new SaaS version of our TMS. We feel this area has significant growth potential for us in the future.
While we are always keeping our eyes open for potential acquisitions to further complement our suite, the more likely targets in the coming year are acquisitions that would help us expand geographic coverage into new markets or verticals more quickly. We have learned that local feet on the street are essential to establishing a significant presence in new geographic areas and are always looking at where existing organizations in certain markets or verticals might be a good fit for our products, markets, and culture. We are also significantly ramping up our partner alliances program to leverage outside organizations to increase our coverage.
PJ: Can you think of anything else to add as a parting comment?
RP: One new aspect of retail operations that was not asked about concerns the store becoming a legitimate fulfillment center and what that means to a retailer—perpetual inventory, accurate in-store inventory positions, maximizing return on inventory, labor allocation for online order fulfillment in the store, tasks to fulfill online orders, returns process, etc. RedPrairie’s Retail Suite will enable all of these capabilities as the integrations are complete. Together with the previously mentioned clienteling, we are staking out store enablement capabilities that are unique in the marketplace and well aligned with the pressures in today’s all-channel retail environment.
Further Reading from TEC
“(Software and Human) Help Wanted in Overwhelmed Retail Stores.” June 7, 2011.
“Are Manhattan Associates and RedPrairie’s Paths Really Diverging?” February 15, 2011.
“Winning Users’ Hearts & Minds via Usability: A Retail Example.” September 16, 2011.
“Integrated Workforce Management (WFM) Platforms: Fact or Fiction? – Part 3.” August 12, 2011.
“RedPrairie Makes a Smart Turn into SaaS WMS.” June 7, 2011.
On Manhattan Associates, RedPrairie Corporation, and JDA Software. “A Tale of a Few Good SCM Players – Part 4.” November 4, 2011.