Have you ever watched a merchant approach a computer during a training session for new software deemed imperative to the corporate strategic initiatives? There’s the cat-like circling motion and narrowed eyes as he sniffs at the latest Holy Grail of technology. It’s an easy read of body language– suspicion, fear and loathing. The hair stands on end across an arched back. There is hissing. The paw swipes at the keyboard. Finally, resignation settles in and he accepts his fate. It is the equivalent of getting him in the pet carrier for a visit to the vet. As the vendor of the software, it’s best to wear long sleeves and gloves.
Last month we heard a different story. Sandwiched between the volcano in Iceland and the threat of a tornado, TradeStone customers gathered in Nashville just before the rains – and the floods – came. Nothing, however, could dampen the enthusiasm of the STARS attendees. There was plenty of time for case studies, demos, networking, workshops and some terrific presentations. Some of the highlights included a great panel on building success and gaining user adoption of technologies moderated by IDC analyst Leslie Hand. Panelists included vice presidents from Macy’s, Guitar Center and American Eagle who answered questions on how they developed internal support for their PLM, Sourcing and MLM projects, set executive and user expectations, and built a compelling story their CEOs could communicate to Wall Street about the value and success of their technology initiatives. A big take away was Money Talks and Private Label delivers– margin, sales and profits. And that makes the execs who supported the PLM and MLM initiatives Happy.
We also heard how $9 Billion auto parts and office supplies company, GPC amassed a seven page document of benefits (wish we had sold that deal on a percentage of ROI basis) that drove multiple divisions to the door of the newly created corporate global sourcing services group. And to show you what a small world it is, this week I am in Australia where I met the CEO of an automotive parts retailer who is now buying parts from GPC’s sourcing operation – and is impressed by how well managed the buying and delivery is. Which makes the people using the global sourcing services, Happy.
Another interesting take on promoting success came from Mr. Price of South Africa, a billion dollar apparel, soft home, and sporting goods retailer. Mr. Price is among the best of our more recent customers that are implementing the TradeStone Model, our pre-configured delivery of best practice solutions based on commodity (apparel, soft home, hardlines) and retail segment. They opted to go 100% model, no deviations and the results are impressive. In addition to the time and dollar savings (only 4 months to go live across the entire TradeStone suite), the merchant satisfaction is a joy to behold. Our speakers were grounded by the volcano but sent their case study via video. The five minute film showcased merchants talking about TradeStone’s PLM technology in the same happy voice usually reserved for cooing to newborns or wrestling with a litter of puppies. Words like Fun, Exciting and Happy fell from the lips of buyers and planners as they shared their experiences in piloting and rolling out the software across Mr. Price’s apparel division and out to its suppliers. At the end of the film, I swear I could smell lilacs, hear birds singing and feel the sun shining.
At TradeStone, we continue to explore new and innovative ways to engage the merchant community . At STARS we introduced our first foray into social media and game playing. And as TradeStone continues to build out commerce communities for our retail customers – uniting retailers, suppliers, factories, inspection companies, color companies and now consumers, our goal is not to just unite them, but to make them happy.