Company: Lexmark InternationalCustomer: WoolworthsSubmitted by: Buffalo Communications LtdThe Woolworths name is internationally associated with quality, value and choice. Woolworths can be relied on to provide the best value, whether customers are browsing for CDs, tools or kitchenware. Seven million shoppers in the UK alone buy at the company’s 783 stores each week, impressed by the company philosophy employed across all Kingfisher Plc stores – “Enabling people to enjoy their home and lifestyle by offering unbeatable value and service.
“Sustaining profitability while providing value for customers takes some clever management, or as Chief Executive Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy said in the company’s 1999 Annual Report, “Innovation remains a priority as we seek to set new standards in value, choice and service and improve the offer to the customer.”
The Business Case
In any high-volume, low-margin retail business, investments have to be strictly justified. Whilst Woolworths wants to provide value and the latest goods to the customer, it also demands these attributes from any internal investment.As part of its overall electronic point of sale (Epos) upgrade program, Woolworths introduced a process of shelf-edge labeling to all stores. This was intended to enhance customer service by making prices clearer, making price-changes quicker to pass any new savings to customers, and to free up members of staff to be customer-facing by removing the labour-intensive task of individually labeling all products.The company’s Edgware Road, London branch was selected for a trial run, using office-produced labels with product description and barcodes.
It was soon clear that to establish the high potential return on this venture, a larger trial program should be piloted involving 10 stores and four printer manufacturers – Lexmark, Hewlett Packard, Sharp and Kyocera. This was a huge success, and Woolworths issued an invitation to tender to the printer manufacturers for a full 783 store roll-out.
The Printing Challenge
To provide for a large number of stores, for diverse customers’ needs, and to maintain the company philosophy of quality at a low price, the print solution needed to be capable of printing on a wide variety of media, at a low cost of ownership for the budget company. To plan for the future, and to support a relatively basic corporate IT structure, the printers needed to provide easy and cost-effective upgrade paths, and to be robust and reliable for operation in a non-IT environment.The Lexmark, Optra range of printers won the Woolworths contract based on its flexibility, memory management, easy upgrade and cost effectiveness.
Alan Peck, Woolworths IT Equipment Manager commented, “We looked at several printer manufacturers but decided on Lexmark because it provided a good value solution that met all our requirements. They even solved problems we hadn’t yet identified!” He added, “Printing should cause little stress to staff members. The Lexmark printer is easy to operate and saves the employees’ time on labour intensive jobs, such as printing labels. Equally, functions such as locking the control panel save our IT support staff valuable time.” Woolworths then implemented a successful pilot across 37 stores.
The Lexmark Solution
After the second roll-out, Woolworths implemented a wave of Optra R printer installations within three weeks at each location. Groups of three stores were assigned an ‘implementor’ for the completion of the project.To correspond with the printer installations, each store was equipped with new fittings to accommodate shelf edge labels. The software was upgraded and tested on Woolworths’ about-to-be-upgraded Epos infrastructure, and the labels printed. To reduce installation problems and to ensure uniform configurations for easy management, Lexmark built the Optra printers to Woolworths’ specification (including parameter settings).
The Business Benefits
The immediate time-savings have enabled staff, previously been engaged in time consuming labeling, to help in customer-facing roles.
Consequently customers have found shelf edge labeling clearer and, the new approach has enabled Woolworths to be more flexible with the introduction of special offers.Needless to say, Alan Peck, Woolworths IT Equipment Manager was pleased. “An added benefit is that the printers are also used for stock and sales accounting, and for the production of stock movement forms resulting in far quicker product transfers.”Woolworths isn’t the only company who likes to see satisfied customers. Lexmark Account Manager, Nigel Spall adds that Woolworths’ approach made quite a difference. “The company’s intense, but thorough selection strategy ensured that the Optra printers chosen were right for the job.
Woolworths has always recognised printing as an essential component of its overall IT strategy, and the technology it has invested in will provide the cost-effective, quality printing it requires.”