Heading into the 2020s and beyond, leading retailers are now moving to integrate their finance, operations and other core systems into unified decision-making platforms to conduct all their reporting, planning and analyses essential to driving sales, demand and growth. We spoke to Accent Group’s William Micati about their digital transformation journey.
The impact of digital technology on the retail industry has been sharply accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, and we are now living through a time of unprecedented change in the retail sector.
Digital transformation has become a critical factor in adapting to the fast-evolving economy we now find ourselves in, and it has also become an essential part of breaking down planning silos in order to be ready for any future changes on the horizon – rapid change being something that has proved inevitable.
Omnichannel retailer Accent Group – currently undergoing major expansion in Australia and New Zealand, where it has been opening 50 to 60 stores per year – is constantly looking for ways to innovate in the retail space, and it has implemented Jedox as a tool to achieve alignment across the business’s internal processes, analysing the numbers and identifying key business objectives.
“As a team, we pretty much rely on Jedox,” says Accent’s group head of commercial and strategy William Micati. “If I look back at around 12 months ago, no one knew what was going to happen with Covid, and obviously we had to do a lot of modelling. That modelling wasn’t just about the profit, it was in terms of cash flow and everything.
Jedox really helped my team and me to do modelling faster for internal purposes, making sure that we always knew what sort of scenarios we were playing with and what ideas we had in terms of what to do next. So, with Covid, it really helped us to manage the numbers side of the equation.”
Prior to using their new EPM solution, Accent’s predictive planning was largely based on weighty Excel documents – as the business expanded however, the volume of important information multiplied while the needs of the business required faster and more accurate data analysis. The firm eventually adopted Jedox in a move to achieve greater efficiencies in their reporting and modelling, allowing budgeting to proceed swiftly and with greater precision.
“Jedox always helped us to be on top of how we expected to execute plans given any scenario,” explains Micati. “I never had the feeling where I was, ‘oh my god, I’m not sure what’s going to happen next’. We were always aware of what we would do in potential future scenarios.
Obviously, there is always a level of uncertainty – but when you don’t need to be worried about the integrity of the numbers and the integrity of the models, then you can spend more time actually coming up with solutions or analyses rather than spending hours saying, ‘is this number even correct?’ So that was really where Jedox helped us in taking away time wasted in data reconciliation and giving us an opportunity to look closer at that data.”
As digital retail becomes an ever-increasing focus in reaching consumers, Accent is moving forward along a path that is embracing this evolution while still maintaining the importance of physical retail space, carving out an omnichannel strategy with an approach that prioritizes being where the consumer is – whether that is in store or digital; on the go or on the phone.
“Internally, omnichannel is about how we can work with operational effectiveness,” says Micati, “making sure that we’re not doubling up costs, that we are actually streamlining functions when it comes to delivery. So, when it comes to the supply chain, that’s where tools like Jedox can help us in terms of internal alignment.”
It’s the companies following the consumer that are getting omnichannel right, but the back end is also important. Companies that can manage their cash flow tightly, their supply chain tightly, their cost line tightly – these are the companies that will have more firepower to grow, that will be leaner to innovate. The importance of EPM tools is that they’re very agile, supporting growth and change and that can adapt with the company.
“I’m not sure what our company structure will look like in three- or four-years’ time, but I know that Jedox will be able to handle it,” he says. “So we don’t need to be worried about going through a massive change. That firmness on the ground level, that is something really positive.”
To learn more about how Accent Group manages their Enterprise Performance, read our customer success story.
This article first appeared on insidefmcg.com.au.