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Evaluating Marks and Spencer

Marks & Spencer needed to increase the capacity of their buffer storage and were looking at ways of reducing the costs in the supply chain at the same time. One solution to this would be to build storage facilities in the country of origin, close to the manufacturing, and call off the quantities required by the High Street stores on a daily basis. Marks and Spencer prepared an outline building specification for a 100,000 m2 warehouse for hanging garments which they used as a template for assessing the construction costs in different overseas locations.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) is a fashion, food and home ware retailer with 600 stores throughout the UK and 240 stores worldwide, including over 210 franchise businesses, operating in 34 countries. With an extensive postal order services, M&S has warehouses all over the UK. Marks & Spencer (M&S) is a high end retailer in the UK. In the former Process, as items were sold each day, stock reduction was recorded. Like most retailers, those stock reductions drove replenishment from the distribution centre. M&S stock levels, however, were often inaccurate due to the following:

Stock was not always counted when it was received . Stock located on Mannequins was

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not able to be sold . Shrinkage Replenishing based on inaccurate stock levels resulted in inaccurate/wrong volumes on hand, and for a percentage of the items, zero stock of a specific size. Since the . system. thought they had stock on hand, the items would never be replenished. Sales were lost because items were not available for purchase. In the new process, RFID tags are manufactured with a unique number programmed into the chip.

Paxar manufactures a finished hang tag with the RFID transponder embedded. The tags are then sent to one of several Paxar Service Bureau facilities. When Service Bureau prints the UPC on the tag, an association is made between the product number and the unique chip number on the RFID transponder. This creates a database of UPC product matched with the unique RFID number. The database is forwarded to M&S from the Service Bureau facility. The tags are forwarded to the apparel manufacturer and attached to the individual garments. Increase Inventory Efficiency

The system will enable Marks & Spencer to collect details of customer transactions from more than 300 stores in almost real time. This information will allow suppliers to deliver more efficiently to the distribution centres, resulting in greater product availability and selection. Microsoft BizTalk Server, running on Microsoft Windows 2000 Server, will look at a transaction’s contents and route it to the appropriate destination. This process will handle at peak 250 transactions per second, which translates to around half a billion customer transactions a year.

Better Relationship with Channel Partners Currently, the ITSS group uses a daily batch and file transfer of data through electronic data interchange (EDI) to communicate with suppliers. With Windows 2000 Server and Microsoft BizTalk Server, they potentially will operate in near real time, greatly improving communications and support efforts as Marks and Spencer employees work closely with their suppliers to solve daily business issues. Extending this communication framework to the Internet will allow Marks & Spencer to bring their customers into the value chain.

The Internet will allow Marks & Spencer to reach more people faster and allow direct marketing capability. M&S asked the cScape mobile experts to evaluate improvements made to their Hand Held Terminal (HHT) by Cap Gemini. The HHT is a mobile PDA device used for scanning product codes, filing returns and checking availability across warehouses. The project was an opportunity to improve the efficiency of M&S’ stock taking and distribution processes. M&S wanted a streamlined process for ordering stock to warehouses and to track products around the UK.

A central aim was to avoid over-ordering and to enable staff to handle the stock easily so they could provide even better customer services. After cScape’s recommended design improvements were implemented, M&S took on the improved device for an initial three-month test period. cScape emphasised simple solutions, minimising clutter and creating design consistency. This meant typical upgrade overheads such as staff re-training could be kept at a minimum. The work carried out by Cap Gemini and cScape demonstrates that M&S is at the forefront of ensuring systems are both technologically advanced and well designed.

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