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Edwin Watts Golf has grown significantly during the past several years, expanding its store portfolio and direct mail and Internet businesses as well. With growth came an increased complexity that taxed the capabilities of its aging legacy systems, which did not provide visibility across channels and among stores. The retailer decided it was time to invest in a new solution due to the age and fragmentation of its existing systems.

"Fundamentally, we had a legacy system with old hardware and three fragmented software systems," explained Lynda Barr, CFO, Edwin Watts Golf, Fort Walton Beach, Fla. "It would have taken a significant investment to our AS/400 hardware as well as various other software upgrades to bring the systems current, and we thought it would be better to invest in a new, fully integrated ERP option."

In selecting a new retail solution, Edwin Watts had an important priority: It had to be multichannel.

"We have retail operations as well as a call center and website, and we needed a solution that could service all segments," Barr said. "As a specialty retailer, we knew we wouldn't find something that would be an exact fit 'out of the box.' We needed to have a solution that had a high degree of flexibility and ease of customization."

In reviewing the top-performing retail applications, the Edwin Watts team looked for vendors that could support the chain's multichannel model and deliver inventory/warehouse management, point of sale and general ledger in a single system. After reviewing the solutions against a 215-point functional specification, the retailer decided on Microsoft Dynamics for Retail.

"We wanted to service the customer consistently and share customer information across all channels — retail operations, call center and website all needed to operate through one system," Barr said. "Microsoft Dynamics for Retail gives us one view into our business performance."

Another advantage of the Microsoft solution was that it gave Edwin Watts the flexibility to select the partner that would deploy the system.

"From an IT perspective we viewed that choice as a positive differentiator," Barr said.

Barr and her team were also impressed by the availability of a wide range of third-party add-ons that provide specific custom functionality within Microsoft Dynamics for Retail. (The initial deployment at Edwin Watts includes Certified for Microsoft Dynamics solutions that help with bank reconciliations, tax calculation and Wi-Fi mobile inventory management.)

"Because of the Microsoft Dynamics partner model, there were multiple companies that we could choose from for that custom functionality," Barr said.

The Microsoft solution went live at the end of January and, at presstime, Edwin Watts was in a settle-down period. (The system was deployed by Ignify, the 2012 Microsoft Dynamics Partner of the Year, which also did the implementations for Microsoft's retail stores.)

"We will have additional phases to continue to expand the functionality of the system," Barr added.

As to the benefits of the new system, Barr thinks the biggest asset is on the inventory management side.

"The Microsoft Dynamics for Retail solutions allows us to centralize purchasing and optimize inventory across all channels and locations," she said. "We will be able to improve our customer service efforts because of centralized inventory management."

mwilson@chainstoreage.com