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Maximizing efficiency in retail: smart strategies for utilizing your staff

The retail sector is facing significant staff shortages, while at the same time there is a challenge to really make a difference. Being and staying distinctive while you don't have enough staff, appears difficult. But not impossible. We are talking to Ardjan Baan, the co-CEO and COO of the Thinkwise-implementation partner Vanenburg. He explains how automated processes contribute to smarter use of staff. A strong digital foundation and data-driven solutions allow you to perform more work, with fewer resources.

Differentiation as the foundation of everything

The retail market is becoming increasingly competitive. And with a recession looming, it is even more important than ever to distinguish yourself. But how do you do that if your IT landscape doesn't facilitate it or even hinders it? According to Ardjan Baan your IT and how you design your processes plays an important role in this. After all, it becomes easier to stand out with a digital foundation that allows you to act quickly on market changes. And the extent to which you can differentiate yourself, in turn gives room for new business models. This was also the case at fashion retailer Omoda, that supported by Vanenburg transferred from the AS/400 to Thinkwise.

We can now satisfy almost every requirement from the end user. That would never have been possible with standard software. With a standard package we often hear ‘that's not included’ and you then have to conform to the market standard. That's not what Omoda is, we prefer to go for customisation for our customers.
Martijn van der Maas, IT manager at Omoda

How it works: automating processes

Ardjan refers several times to a digital foundation as the basis for your company. Smart business software enables you to react faster to changes in the market and your customers' expectations. A strong digital foundation is within reach with the Thinkwise platform. This platform forms the foundation for the modernisation of your core business application, such as ERP and WMS, and applications can be easily linked between them. The best thing about the Thinkwise platform is that it never becomes legacy and the development of applications is at least 10 times faster compared to traditional code. Internal business processes are automated and are easier to operate and modify using model-driven software development and low-code. A flexible and sustainable digital foundation enables you to grow quickly and efficiently.

Your IT department: “Achieve the same with less effort”

Older systems involve many risks. They are updated less frequently and developed in outdated programming languages which can be best programmed by developers who are already close to retirement. With Thinkwise you build model-driven applications. Ardjan compares it with the 3D drawings of a house, because the development process is for the most part graphical, without thousands of lines of program code. If you change one dimension, the rest will automatically change with it. With standard elements that can be re-used, this manner of development is not only faster but also produces fewer errors than with traditional coding. The platform is accessible for professional developers, but colleagues from the business with a technical background can also work with Thinkwise after training. Vanenburg calls these people boundary spanners: technical specialists on the intersection between IT and the business who can cooperate in an agile manner. This all enables you to develop, implement and expand a new system with fewer resources, Ardjan explains. This is confirmed by Omoda IT manager, Martijn van der Maas: “Previously a large part of our time was spent on traditional and repetitive Java programming. The time-to-market of, for example, product launches has been considerably shortened.

Using staff smarter through the rest of your organization

Apart from thoughtfully organizing your IT department, you can also use Thinkwise to organize other departments more efficiently in your organization with the same or fewer staff. You can automate logistic processes, so that packages are more efficiently packed and sent. Ardjan gives an example of applications that calculate how the contents from various warehouses are smartly gathered by one packer and how the truck is then arranged as efficiently as possible. Furthermore, with more insight into your stock, you will have a better idea of what sells well and at which speed. The warehouse can be optimally organized and fewer people are needed for the same amount of work. The entire logistic flow becomes more intelligent due to the Thinkwise platform combined with other big data applications. By leveraging automation, you can streamline your processes, increase efficiency, and achieve your goals while using fewer resources. This frees up more time and resources for growth.

Vanenburg can help you with this

Building your digital foundation with Thinkwise, offers many possibilities. Processes can be automated more easily and faster, so you can achieve the same results with fewer resources. Your company gains the opportunity to distinguish itself on the retail market and can completely focus on growth. Vanenburg has 45 years of experience with core systems in retail, logistics, wholesale and manufacturing. They are a strong partner and have all the expertise in house to avoid pitfalls during a modernization project and proactively guide the customer in the right direction. Vanenburg helps build a bridge between IT and the business, and provides support with the design, implementation, and development of applications. Read the whole case of Omoda and find out how their migration went.