4-page Case Study - Posted 6/5/2014
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Retailer uses Microsoft to drive transformational retail and business strategy
Established in 1886, Eason is one of Ireland’s most recognised flagship brands. Eason currently has over 60 stores across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and is the country’s leading multichannel retailer of books, newspapers and
magazines, cards, stationery and gifts, including an expansive selection of own brand goods. Launched in 1998, Eason’s award winning website www.easons.com has since grown into Ireland’s most successful book and eBook store.
||“The architecture review is where you discover the breadth of the Microsoft world.”
| Gerry Martyn
Head of IT & Customer Service
Faced with the most challenging economic, competitive and market environments in its 128 year history, fueled by a recession, drop in discretionary spending and the digitalisation of content both from a book and news & magazine perspective; Eason developed
a comprehensive new business and retail strategy to arrest declining sales, transform its brick and mortar retail estate, enhance efficiencies across its business and position the company as a leading multi-channel retailer through a new digital strategy.
A key enabler to achieving its objectives under this transformational strategy was replacing its existing outdated IT infrastructure with a new completely integrated system and implementing new processes throughout the business.
“The driver for implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX was the need for greater system integration and flexibility across our business and the fact that departments within the business were operating on separate systems,” explained Gerry Martyn, Eason’s Head
of IT and Customer Service.
He added, “For Eason, a crucial component of our strategy was to integrate our business functions across the supply chain from our warehouse, into our stores and out to our customer, regardless of channel. We wanted to have visibility as the product is shipped
to the warehouse, the warehouse is used by the staff to replenish the shops, and the shops sell it to the end customer.”
Having selected Microsoft Dynamics AX as the foundation for its Omni-channel vision, Eason sought a partner to deliver company-wide implementation and chose Microsoft Consulting Services.
“When you are talking about a project of this scale it is highly reassuring being able to go direct to the developer of the product,” Martyn stated. “If Microsoft doesn't know the end product, who else does? Not having direct access to the manufacturer potentially
puts your business at risk and delays the process. It’s a good insurance policy to have.”
What most impressed Martyn in working with Microsoft Consulting Services was their understanding of Eason needs and requirements. The process involved a series of workshops between the Eason team and Microsoft Consulting Services.
“That was the most significant standout at the start of the process,” he said. “They asked the right questions such as ‘what does the customer want?’, ‘what does the business need out of the system?’, and then came up with a bespoke plan to help us deliver
He emphasised the role of the Microsoft Services Account Executive (SAE) in bringing in the right resources at the right time and overseeing all elements of the complex implementation. By consistently providing options that met their business, timeline and
budgetary objectives, Microsoft Consulting Services helped Eason develop an appropriate implementation plan for an integrated Microsoft Dynamics AX solution, enhanced with additional functionality. “It was very much a partnership,” Martyn added.
Trust and communication between Eason and Microsoft Consulting Services was critical.
“We know that 70% to 80% of all IT projects fail or aren’t delivered on time, or within budget,” said Martyn. “So every executive that engages or leads a project of this scale and magnitude is putting his or her reputation on the line.”
Working with Microsoft Consulting Services, Easons Microsoft Dynamics AX implementation came in on time and on budget, while providing the scope and functionality that Eason sought. “Working with Microsoft Consulting Services means getting the most out of
the product in terms of functionality and capability.” Martyn summarised.
The benefits Eason is seeing from the engagement include:
Company-wide engagement which maximizes efficiencies and performance
Microsoft Consulting Services not only worked in Eason head office, but in Eason stores and the warehouse as required to complete the implementation. They also conducted three broad project review phases: architecture review; design review; and performance
“The architecture review is where you discover the breadth of the Microsoft world,” Martyn stated. “It moves the needle from a product engagement to a Microsoft global engagement. If I develop ‘an architecture’ with a third party, it is only that third party’s
knowledge. An architectural review with Microsoft means that you have access to other Microsoft experts to make sure the architectural design is in line with the very best the Microsoft organisation knows.”
The design review helped make sure that the team was maximising efficiency and making the best use of the out-of-the-box Microsoft Dynamics AX solution, which helped minimise the time and money spent in customisation.
Finally, the performance review helped verify the customised aspects of the implementation. “The performance of an ERP is not only the product, but also the customisation and data. You can only check that 100% after its goes live. We conducted that review
at several levels, including an SQL level, a Microsoft Dynamics AX level, and a custom code level,” said Martyn.
A single, integrated solution
Eason now has a company-wide Omni-channel retail solution that enables integrated processes across all business functions. “Before, we had many versions of data. The same question was answered in many different ways with different answers. Now, with an integrated
solution we have one answer.” The solution has also aligned Eason ecommerce, website, and bricks and mortar shops.
Ease of use
Martyn explained that ease of use is about more than just familiarity. “Familiarity means that I know it already. Ease of use means that even if I’m not familiar with something, I can pick it up. Microsoft always has been very good at that. It means that
if you’re used to Outlook or Excel or PowerPoint, it is very easy to throw Microsoft Dynamics AX in and be able to use it as well.”
Information that improves decision-making
Through providing a comprehensive source for easily-accessible business information, the Microsoft Dynamics AX implementation has enabled faster and smarter decision-making. According to Martyn, it’s about “providing the right information to make the right
decisions in a timely manner.”
Eason expects the Microsoft Dynamics AX implementation to continue enabling improved performance measurement company-wide. This will let Eason clearly track the Return On Investment of the Dynamics AX implementation. Already, he believes that the tool is
allowing department leads to better manage their business units by using information generated by the system to enhance margins, eliminate wastage and reduce costs.
A better customer experience
“The world is a very small place within a great solution,” said Martyn. “We have moved from a concept of going into one store and buying a product, to that same customer being able to look across the entire estate for the stock-level of the product. With
Microsoft Dynamics AX, the Eason website is considered another store in our estate, even though you can’t physically go into it.”
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