At the recent Ace Hardware Fall Convention & Exhibits, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel presentation with Wade Doss, owner of Bates Ace Hardware, and Bob Krieger, owner of Katz Ace Hardware. The retail business owners provided insights and firsthand experiences with the new Epicor solution for independent retailers, Epicor Eagle N Series. Here are a few highlights from that presentation.
Q: With a commitment to stay on the cutting edge of technology, what was the process like for your business to implement Epicor Eagle N Series?
Doss: Implementation was pretty pain free. The new modern interface of Eagle N Series has a clean look and feel. The solution streamlines procedures so that the daily tasks in our business are easier and quicker to execute. Eagle N Series eliminates steps and we’ve seen an immediate savings in time and money. The new software makes business processes seamless.
Q: Considering all the tools retailers can use to compete and grow successfully in today’s market, how can retailers position themselves for the future?
Krieger: One thing that cannot be overlooked is every retailer’s mission to outservice big box competition. Customers today have many choices, so how can you give your customers an unforgettable experience? By outservicing your competition those customers will keep choosing you. Eagle N Series helps position our business to respond quickly and cost-effectively as the retail market evolves. The software is intuitive; it’s where I need it, when I need it.
Q: Getting employees up and running on new technology can be a challenge. What has been your experience with introducing the new solution to your staff?
Krieger: You’ll find consistency throughout the entire Eagle N Series solution, which is crucial for learning and training employees. The solution is very user friendly. For example, my 10-year-old son learned how to use Eagle N Series in 45 minutes. This means that I can now train new employees faster, which in return saves time and money for our business.
Q: In the ‘age of the customer,’ customers are demanding immediate answers to questions. What is your business doing to combat this challenge?
Doss: One way to improve operations is to have access to vital information. Business analytics should be readily available at your fingertips. With Eagle N Series we are quickly and efficiently able to access information on customer buying habits, popular products on our shelves, inventory levels, and more. This information especially helps us when management is on the sales floor and needs to make a decision quickly. We now have all the information we need at the touch of a button. Retailers greatly benefit from tools that keep up with customers.
For a detailed look at the Bates Ace Hardware implementation of Epicor Eagle N Series, read their story here.
Posted by Carl Hildebrandt, Senior Product Manager, Retail Distribution Solutions for Epicor
Congratulations to Steve Schnur, director of merchandise planning and analytics at MGM Resorts International
, who was recently nominated as a finalist in the 2014 Constellation Research Supernova Awards. The polls are now open, you can vote for MGM here
The fourth annual SuperNova Awards
program celebrates and recognizes individuals who have overcome the odds to successfully applying emerging and disruptive technologies within their organizations.
Success of MGM’s Business
MGM has unusual retail challenges that heighten the importance of large quality data sets and analysis tools. For example, normal retail forecasts forward demand with just two components -- trend and seasonality -- while MGM has many other added layers of complexity.
MGM wanted to incorporate business intelligence (BI) for decision-support to put the tremendous wealth of its data to optimal use to speed of issue and opportunity identification, for more timely resolution and action, to drive overall improved business performance and responsiveness. MGM had an existing relationship with Epicor Software, and had leveraged Epicor Retail solutions for Store (POS), Merchandising, and Sales Audit successfully in the past. Working with Epicor, MGM incorporated the Epicor Retail Business Intelligence solution into its daily operations for greater control over the volume and velocity of data, and for distillation of valuable insights for improved decision-making.
- BI is now used routinely by nearly 100% of MGM’s staff, including 150+ personnel at or above the assistant manager level
- MGM empowers users with self-service access to the reports most relevant to their roles and responsibilities
- Data made available by BI is used to shape business decisions and improve outcomes
- MGM now identifies performance issues and opportunities faster and at a more granular level
- BI solution is configured to automatically generate 350+ reports on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis
- MGM cut its data collection and reporting labor requirements in half -- before 80% of effort was spent collecting/cleaning data, and 20% using it; now this equation has been flipped
- Now more time can be spent applying the lessons learned from data to run and build the business
Read MGM’s full SuperNova Award profile here.
The voting period is now open and ends Tuesday, September 30, 2014. Cast your vote now by visiting MGM’s project profile here:
Winners will be revealed during the SuperNova Award Gala Dinner on October 29, 2014 at Constellation’s Connected Enterprise
innovation summit located at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay in Half Moon Bay, California.
Posted by the Epicor Social Media Team
A recent article on searchautoparts.com details the dramatic increase of eCommerce sites in the automotive aftermarket:
E-commerce growth in the aftermarket is lapping brick-and-mortar growth. According to an April 2014 Hedges & Co. report, online sales of auto parts grew nearly 16 percent between 2012 and 2013, from $3.8 billion to $4.4 billion, and online sales (excluding auctions) are projected to pass the $5 billion mark in 2014. Brick-and-mortar stores actually showed a sales decrease of 1.5 percent in 2013, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
The move from brick and mortar to online commerce is one of the most important trends in this sector, changing the way that parts are sold across the complex aftermarket supply chain. Manufacturers and distributors no longer sell to a limited number of channel partners, but rather to a broad array of jobbers, distributors, retailers, vehicle owners, and maintenance personnel through proliferating online connections.
To help meet this demand, Epicor established the Epicor Parts Network, a broad portfolio of Web-based, business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce solutions for automotive parts distributors and vehicle service providers. Epicor Parts Network includes the Epicor Parts Network B2B eStore (formerly Internet AutoParts), Epicor Integrated Service Estimator (ISE) parts and labor estimating solution, and cloud-based Epicor Parts Network (formerly AConneX) parts trading solution. Together, these eCommerce tools connect approximately 26,000 auto parts distributor and jobber locations and more than 170,000 registered aftermarket service providers and dealership users.
“Distributors, jobbers, and service dealers continue to set new records each year for B2B eCommerce volume and value,” notes Scott Thompson, vice president, automotive eCommerce for Epicor. “This growth is playing a vital role in keeping the aftermarket’s traditional channel healthy through increased efficiency, bay productivity, and, ultimately, a superior consumer experience at the repair shop.”
To find out more about Epicor solutions for the automotive aftermarket, go to http://www.epicor.com/Industries/Retail/Pages/automotive-aftermarket-software.aspx.
Posted by the Epicor Social Media Team
In the world of independent retailers, personalized and superior customer service is a major differentiator, and the key to outservicing the competition
. What exactly do I mean by outservicing the competition? By providing customers with the best shopping experience possible. And every retailer knows that in order to get customers coming back they need to have the right prices, products, and experiences available.
The article, ‘Competing with Big Box Stores’
, notes that “superb customer service is the biggest intangible asset to the independent business. People like to shop where they feel comfortable and where they feel the owner truly cares about their wants and needs.”* Successful retailers tend to downplay what they do best, providing personalized knowledgeable service to customers. Here are a few tips to help inspire outservicing through excellent service:
- Technology empowers retailers with tools to promote profitability, accurate inventory control and access required to make the right decisions for their business, lending to unrivaled customer service. Mobile technology is a way to entice the self-starting customer and promotes employee assistance right from the store aisles—providing store employees access to extensive product, pricing and inventory information, and better customer service.
- Customer knowledge enables retailers to serve customer needs before the customer even enters the store. Equipped with better information, employees can approach customers with more understanding of the products they need, available inventory, and the most competitive pricing possible.
- Rewarding with loyalty is the best way to establish repeat customers. Make your loyalty program better than the competition’s and top it off with excellent customer experience.
- Speed matters to the majority of consumers. An easy-to-use point of sale (POS) system, and accessible customer and product information will drive your business. These features help save time and hassle for customers, driving you to outperform competitors in the industry.
Developing creative ways to outservice your competition can be a challenge. However with the right resources, business partners, technology tools, and research of your competitors, you can better connect with customers—creating a more memorable experience which keeps them coming back for years to come.
*Source: About.com Retailing, “Competing with Big Box Stores: Tips for Retail Competition,” by Shari Waters.
Posted by Doug Smith, Senior Product Manager, Retail Distribution Solutions for Epicor
The 9th Annual 2014 Hot Companies and Best Products Awards program honored companies from all over the world in San Francisco on June 23, 2014 during the 9th annual awards dinner and presentations. Network Products Guide
, the industry’s leading technology research and advisory guide selected Epicor as a Silver winner
in the category of Cloud Computing/SaaS.
“We are proud to receive the Network Products Guide award for the fourth consecutive year,” said Mark Fair, vice president, customer services and support, retail distribution solutions for Epicor. “The Epicor Eagle Hosting solution was designed to help small to medium-sized retailers manage their IT infrastructure without the hassle of maintaining a server on premise.”
The annual Hot Companies and Best Products recognition program encompasses the world’s best in organizational performance, products and services, executives and management teams, successful deployments, product management and engineering, support and customer satisfaction, and public relations in every area of information technology.
Epicor Eagle Hosting is a comprehensive solution for new and existing Epicor customers that delivers the robust functionality of Epicor Eagle
software in a hosted environment—supporting the small to midsized retail growth strategy. The solution offers end-to-end architecture, and includes protection from viruses, spyware, and hackers via Epicor Watchdog ISS Internet security service and Kaspersky anti-virus engine with SonicWALL enforced anti-virus and anti-spyware software, support and maintenance, automatic updates and upgrades, as well as all proprietary information.
Posted by Epicor Social Media Team
No matter how you see your store, ultimately you should view your business from a customer’s perspective. In a recent Inventory Optimization webinar, we discussed the value of refining the management process and best practices for planning for the right inventory balance.
Let’s say your customer races down the aisle, only to find items out-of-stock – this is the ultimate retailer’s fear, not having what your customer needs. Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum, your businesses could be facing overstocks with items that are heavily discounted to get them off the shelves.
According to IHL Group*, retailers world-wide are losing $818 billion annually due to inventory distortion ― the combined cost of out-of-stocks, lost sales, and overstocks that retailers must deeply discount to sell. On the other hand, dealing with stockouts and overstocks is another business critical issue that must be remedied. Aberdeen Group** research has revealed that 70% of retailers rate themselves average or below average on their inventory management. So you may now ask, “How do I get a hold of my inventory, I don’t want to be sold out, or overstock.”
Retailers want to have the right balance of inventory. To get to that optimal level of inventory, retailers greatly benefit from working with an inventory management solution provider, like Epicor. There is typically one field of data, which if managed properly, could reveal significant value. That data field is Quantity on Hand (QOH)—getting that one field right allows your business to optimize inventory. QOH can be very elusive because it has various ways it can be impacted:
- POS check out – if barcodes are not set correctly
- Receiving – if controls aren’t in place
- Backroom – while this is helpful to house extra product, it can be a nuisance if that product is not controlled appropriately
- Special orders – if not managed correctly, the business could be holding onto unneeded products
- Shipping, Shrinkage, etc.
How can businesses improve the management of QOH? Little Hardware of North Carolina typically has 65,000-70,000 items in their inventory. They have decreased stock out rates on A and B items by 25%, increased GMROI by 19.1%, and increased turns by 13.1%. How? Through their use of Epicor Eagle Inventory Planner dashboards and real-time, actionable information. “Over the past few years, we recognized that ordering the wrong items in the wrong quantity was money out of pocket. Money we’d rather have kept in the business . . . Our goal was to make better business decisions related to ordering,” said Kyle Little, eCommerce and IT manager at Little Hardware.
Watch this video to hear how Little Hardware has accomplished this business improvement.
If your business is struggling with stockouts, out-of-stocks, and improving cash flow, better managing your inventory and QOH could be key for your business. In regards to inventory optimization, if you want to reach the optimal inventory level that improves turns, a dramatic change to business management policies must be implemented. Ultimately, inventory optimization will improve margins and customer service levels.
To the view the full Inventory Optimization webinar, click here.
*Source: IHL, “Inventory Distortion – Retail’s $800 Billion Problem” by Lee Holman and Greg Buzek, December 5, 2011.
**Source: Aberdeen Group, “Inventory Optimization: Retail Strategies for Eliminating Stock-Outs and Over-Stocks” by Sahir Anand and Chris Cunnane, May 2009.
Posted by Doug Smith, Senior Product Manager, Epicor Retail Distribution
Small businesses are crucial to the development of job creation, entrepreneurial innovations and progressive impact on the economy. Consumers spend about one third of their monthly discretionary income at locally-owned, independent businesses, with just over $100 per month spent at their favorite store*. Epicor is committed to providing a partnership that brings significant opportunities to grow and enhance your small businesses in order to achieve success. In honor of National Small Business Week, running this week May 12-16, 2014, we’d like to recognize and thank all the small businesses running on Epicor solutions.
National Small Business Week, sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration since 1963, will host free webinars and live events to help promote business best practices. For more information on these events, please visit www.sba.gov/nsbw.
To hear firsthand how small businesses are using Epicor technology to increase efficiency and improve their bottom-line, view the Epicor Inspired Retail Videos.
*“Shop Small” Resonates with Local Consumers. August 31, 2011. American Express. [www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/shop-small-resonates-with-local-consumers].
Posted by Ron Brown, Vice President of Professional Services, Retail Distribution, Epicor
Last month we held an informative Epicor Eagle Best Practices Webinar
focused on how to run an effective training program. The webinar features Katie Hendricks from Reeves Ace Hardware. Hendricks shares what Reeves Ace Hardware
is doing to run an effective training program and the impact they are seeing in the business.
A common theme that runs through profitable and successful companies is a strong employee training program. Effective employee training can give your business a significant edge on employee retention, customer satisfaction and retention, and bottom line profitability. As an independent retailer, making this happen can be challenging.
“Training is everything to a business. Embracing technology was the key for our business and a simplified Epicor Training on Demand program has empowered our employees to be better at their jobs,” said Katie Hendricks, training manager at Reeves Ace Hardware.
Reeves Ace Hardware operates five locations and has been in business for 85 years with plans to stay in business for another 85 years. Hendricks also talks about how the business is driving an effective training program to ensure employees have the knowledge and skills they need to provide superior customer service and continued business success. She provides great tips to help retailers improve employee skills (ultimately driving morale), which noticeably improves customer service and business performance. The following are a few key points how retailers can achieve success in training:
- Boost employee confidence and customer satisfaction by giving staff the knowledge they need up-front, followed by on-the-job practice
- Enjoy real productivity increases in key retail areas like inventory management, POS, etc.
- Keep the entire team knowledgeable with a central hub for resources, safety, benefits, outside classes, and more
- Create a culture of ongoing learning with incentives at both individual and management levels
- Easily assign training courses and manage the training process
Help staff wary of technology
by letting them learn at their own pace and reward them for completing training. For more information about Epicor Training on Demand, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Jenny Kois, Learning Services Manager, Epicor
Two years after its launch, Epicor Payment Exchange (EPX) has been named one of the fastest-growing payment processors in the United States by ¹The Nilson Report. With a surge of 506 percent year-over-year growth from 2012 to 2013, the solution is meeting the needs of retailers. EPX was developed to provide additional value to Epicor retail customers, and indeed it has already demonstrated significant benefits to its users:
"We save more than $1,000 per month with Epicor Payment Exchange and we gained the ability to process debit cards. It's just a better all-around solution," said Gary Meinke, Owner of Bayside Paint Inc.
“Our accountant says we were one of her only clients that saved money on fees last year—our use of Epicor Payment Exchange greatly influenced that savings. Because of the solution I save at least 30 minutes each week on backend reporting and reconciliation. We are very happy with the solution,” said Kelly Price, Office Manager of South Coast Supply Inc.
Here are some interesting facts and figures about EPX since it was launched: View the full-size version here.
Posted by Matt Mullen, General Manager of Epicor Payment Exchange and Head of Product Management & Marketing for Epicor
¹“Top Merchant Acquirers in the United States.” (March 2014). The Nilson Report. Retrieved from http://www.nilsonreport.com/publication_newsletter_archive_issue.php?issue=1036
I’m excited to share the news that we recently celebrated the 2nd anniversary of the release of Epicor Training on Demand
, an online training tool designed to offer role-based or job-specific training content to users of the Epicor Eagle business management solution. Thanks to the success of our customers, Training on Demand has made an impact in the businesses of over 800 retailers across the United States that have invested in this innovative training tool.
Williams Lumber and Home Centers
, a 68-year-old hardware, lumber and building materials retailer located in New York State, is using Epicor Training on Demand to enhance customer service and promote employee performance. “The Williams Lumber management team has benefitted from Training on Demand
in learning how the retail side of the business affects the backroom—this tool sharpens our associates’ skills,” said Frank Trippi, IT director for Williams Lumber.
In addition to the success of our customers, 2013 also marked our first recognition by Brandon Hall Group
, a well-established research and advisory services organization in the performance improvement industry. Epicor Training on Demand was named a winner in the 2013 Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Technology Awards
. We were proud to accept the Bronze award in the category of Best Advance in Learning Management Technology for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
. The award entries were evaluated by a panel of independent senior industry experts, Brandon Hall Group senior analysts and executive leadership based upon the criteria of product/program design, functionality, usability, innovation, and overall measurable benefits. A full list of the Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Technology award winners can be found here
Today, customer service is the foundation of success in the competitive retail market. The key to establishing proficiencies that reduce business mistakes, increase efficiencies, and improve customer service is grounded in an effective training program.
*Companies who train their employees are:
- 58% more likely to be successful at developing the skills needed for meeting future customer demand
- 46% more likely to be strong innovators in their markets
- 33% more likely to report higher customer satisfaction than other organizations
- 39% more likely to report success implementing customer suggestions
- 18% more likely to currently be a market-share leader in one or more of their markets
It’s truly an honor to work with such inspirational retailers that are effectively using Training on Demand to establish and improve these crucial business proficiencies. Here at Epicor we are committed to helping retailers improve customer service and their overall business performance—providing technology and educational programs that help retailers benefit from their investment in technology. I look forward more successful years to come and more innovative ways to improve business performance.
Posted by Jenny Kois, Learning Services Manager, Epicor
*"High-Impact Learning Culture: The 40 Best Practices for Creating an Empowered Enterprise," Bersin & Associates, June 2010.