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Asda brings data-driven accuracy to the shelf edge with IconSystem


Story in 30 seconds: Supermarket chain Asda was using IconSystem to manage business-critical equipment data, but it wanted to improve the process for ordering specialist merchandising equipment.

Elecosoft built a bespoke ‘profiles and specials’ feature within IconSystem that integrated visual merchandise plans with fixture and fitting inventory, to improve data trust and reduce overordering.

The new module increased equipment ordering accuracy by up to 35%, while slashing data admin requirements and lowering Asda’s material wastage.

Asda - customer shopping in a supermarket concept.Shopping in supermarket a shopping cart view with motion blur.Close up of a woman shopping in a supermarket.Customer pushing a shopping cart in a supermarket.

With over 630 stores used by 18 million+ customers, Asda is constantly evolving its product offering to meet changing demand.

Precision planning is required to display new stock effectively – but legacy processes meant fixtures and fittings were frequently being inaccurately or excessively ordered.

Asda was already using IconSystem by Elecosoft to manage equipment information, so it was a natural step for Elecosoft to build a bespoke ‘profiles and specials’ module aligning Visual Merchandising plans with Fixture Management data.

Integrating the two business areas has enhanced visibility, improved ordering accuracy and enabled Asda to run a leaner, greener, lower cost rollout process.

Telling the whole story – with data at the centre
For 15 years, IconSystem has been a business-critical solution for Asda. The company’s Property teams use the software to manage essential business construction data, including specifications and costs for fixtures, fittings and equipment.

But until 2018, all the planning work for Asda’s store shelving requirements was managed by the Visual Merchandising team in a separate database. When the supermarket chain wanted to alter its product range or roll out a seasonal promotion, the shelving and merchandising equipment required had to be manually transferred from this database into a new spreadsheet – a process that Asda calls ‘profiles and specials’ – before Fixture Managers could order equipment for each store.

To streamline the deployment process and increase data quality, Asda asked Elecosoft to create a bespoke feature that integrated its profiles and specials operation into IconSystem.

“In the old way of working, it was taking us one week per month, every month, to maintain our databases, and even then data wasn’t completely accurate,” explains says Zoe Mitchell, Model Planner within Asda’s Retail Prototype, Specification and Design team.

“The spreadsheet our Visual Merchandising team was producing only told half the story. There was no information on equipment suppliers, colours, or how many units were in stock. We needed to extract equipment-specific information from Visual Merchandising and present it in a way that our Fixture Management team could quickly, accurately order new fixtures and fittings.”

Putting user experience first
Creating a good end user experience was pivotal to Zoe and her colleagues. They wanted Elecosoft to build a dashboard that the highly creative Visual Merchandising team found easy to operate, which would also provide accurate, real-time data to the detail-driven Fixture Management team.

“Elecosoft totally grasped what we were trying to achieve, and spent time with key users discussing how we could create something that worked for everyone’s needs. One of the key benefits to expanding the software we were already using was that the equipment information existed in IconSystem. We just need to integrate Visual Merchandising.”

To ensure clean, trustworthy data, Asda deduplicated its entire master spreadsheet, before photographing over 300 pieces of equipment to provide a visual prompt. Then, to enable a smooth transition, Elecosoft launched a beta version of the dashboard alongside Asda’s legacy process, and Zoe appointed ‘super users’ in the Visual Merchandising and Fixture Management teams to pilot the new user-friendly interface.

“Across the business, our teams quickly saw the advantages of joining our Visual Merchandising and Fixture Management systems together. Data is now infinitely more accurate, we can easily access granular detail that isn’t captured anywhere else, and we can be much smarter with the information we already have,” Zoe shares.

“One of our super users was a Fixture Manager that has been working with Asda for more than a decade. After we’d been through the training process, he said he really wished the profiles and specials feature had existed when he started 15 years ago!”

Leaner, greener, lower cost
Since going live with the profiles and specials feature on IconSystem in 2018, Asda’s Property teams have seen bottom-line benefits to customising their software, including:

Less time on admin – instead of spending one week each month maintaining spreadsheets, data can be updated centrally in real-time, by any relevant person in the business.

“Everyone has a lot more ownership of data accuracy,” Zoe says. “Whenever someone changes information, their details are attached to the update. There’s something very powerful about people having their name above the door.”

Improved visibility – through IconSystem, fixture managers can see all equipment requirements on one dashboard, alongside up-to-the-minute inventory information.

Accurate ordering – prior to integrating profiles and specials into IconSystem, Fixture Management teams were ordering 5-20% more equipment than necessary, resulting in considerable overspending. Since deploying the new feature, ordering accuracy has increased from 60-70% to 90-95%, and teams can make central changes if they see missing or out of date information, to drive continual improvement.

“As an administrator, I have a helicopter view of the data and changes being made,” Zoe notes. “I can see when a certain piece of kit isn’t needed any more and so we don’t need to reorder it when stock runs out. With IconSystem, nobody should ever need to over order.”

Better planning and forecasting – for the first time in Asda’s history, the Property teams can schedule-in future equipment needs, to better plan material requirements. This information can also be updated as promotions and projects progress. For example: for new store launches, historically, shelving requirements would be mapped out at the beginning of the project. But it was difficult to factor-in seasonal promotions or subsequent changes across Asda’s product offering. IconSystem makes it much easier to both forecast what equipment will be needed further down the line, and to make adjustments in real-time, based on when the new store is due to land.

Environmentally friendly – integrating profiles and specials management into IconSystem has done more than save money for Asda. Increased ordering accuracy is enhancing the supermarket chain’s environmental credentials, as there is less material waste. Additionally, fewer trips to return excess equipment is lowering Asda’s carbon footprint.

The sky is the limit
The profiles and specials dashboard is already delivering value for Asda, and the supermarket’s mission to improve equipment ordering and management continues. Zoe and her colleagues meet with their IconSystem Account Manager every month to look at how the software is performing, and to see where functionality can be enhanced.

“The IconSystem team is always coming to us with ideas and proposals, looking at ways we can continue to improve the way we operate,” she shares.

Future plans include increasing process automation to reduce user input requirements, and enabling third parties – such as equipment suppliers – to integrate with IconSystem, so they can extract profiles and specials data for their own use.

“IconSystem has been a really worthwhile investment, and the profiles and specials interface that Elecosoft has created within the software will drive long-term cost savings for Asda,” Zoe concludes. “Now that we can see all our data clearly and easily make changes, the sky is the limit!”

Create one version of the truth for every building, project and asset, contact us for a demo of IconSystem by Elecosoft.

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