See More. Aim Higher.

A case study of a multi-billion dollar global client in the sports
retail space wanting to increase demand visibility.

December 2019

A Complex Opportunity

We live in the age of the consumer. The opportunity for retail has never been this excellent, but there is a flip side – it has also never been more complicated. From omnichannel distribution to shorter product lifecycles and exponentially increasing consumer demand for personalization accompanied by speed, retailers not just need to manage but excel in every aspect of business strategy to have a chance at competing. In what has always been a game of microscopic margins, the focus on speed and agility can affect the quality of decision-making unless supported by the right technology. Demand planning based on a comprehensive view of inventory, sellin data, and sell-through data is essential from a business standpoint but equally critical for cash flow and keeping the operation lean. Today, driven by innovation and intelligent technologies, better and smarter visibility can improve business performance by giving retailers the knowledge they need to make effective decisions at speed.

TradeEdge Market Connect is built for this exact purpose. An automated two-way data exchange platform built by EdgeVerve, TradeEdge Market Connect gathers sales, orders, inventory, invoices, and other similar data from channel partners before delivering them to the manufacturers, irrespective of the size or intricacy of the operation. The platform can adapt to a range of scenarios, whether it is acquiring distributor data in emerging markets or relaying point-of-sale data from large modern retailers in developed geographies.

Crucially, TradeEdge Market Connect does more than facilitating data exchange. The platform deploys advanced machine learning algorithms to detect anomalies faster and augments business efficiency by cleansing, validating, transforming, and enriching data. The result is a seamless data transfer between channel partners, large and small, to enable better analytics, reporting, and strategy. So, when a global sports merchandise brand approached EdgeVerve to redesign their Point-of-Sale (POS) data acquisition, it was time for TradeEdge Market Connect to take the field. Read on to find out how the platform delivered transformative impact with a 60% increase in demand visibility, offering near-real-time data harmonization from disparate sources.

Understanding the odds

The client, a multi-billion-dollar global behemoth in the sports retail space, designs, develops, and distributes a wide range of footwear, apparel, and sports equipment. With thousands of retail accounts in the US alone, the company’s reach covers nearly all of the planet through a combination of wholesalers, single-brand and multi-brand retail outlets, and distributors.

The scale of the company’s business, while a substantial competitive advantage, also lent itself to a high degree of complexity leading to a range of process and business challenges. The issues from a process standpoint were primarily connected to data collection, capture, and flow or, more specifically, inefficiencies in each of these areas:

Inability to integrate data collection efforts: The size of the client’s operation meant that they had to integrate teams across countries, local territory teams, and several vendors, big and small, to collect on-ground data. However, the intensity of intent, in this case, couldn’t translate into the effectiveness of execution. Emerging markets, in particular, can pose a more significant challenge in this regard.

Non-standard data capture: With POS systems differing across retailers, distributors, and partners, the data, if captured at all, was in many random formats. As a consequence, the little data that was recorded was asynchronous and unfit for use.

Delayed data flow: Inducting a partner to the data acquisition system took anything between 12-18 months. Even from partners in the system, the delays in sending the data to the client’s demand planners, weeks on end, invalidated the purpose of gathering data in the first place.

As you would expect, these challenges bled into the operations posing significant business challenges from inefficient inventory management and demand planning constraints to lower trust in data and, most important, a dramatic reduction in agility. The slow onboarding process, delay in data availability, and poor data quality compromised the company’s ability to respond to market indicators in a timely and adequate manner.

Getting the house in order

Recognizing the need for a shift, the leadership decided to embark on a journey to redesign their POS business intelligence systems. While the work with retail partners to increase collaboration and effectiveness was underway, it was imperative to find a solution partner who could enable their POS data acquisition. Specific parameters were defined to govern the success of this initiative:

  • Onboarding at least 100 partners within a three-year timeframe while maintaining the integrity of these global relationships

  • Secure, configurable data processed within 2 hours in a scalable and future-proof system

  • The use of automation to minimize manual effort and ensure a continuous data flow between retailers and the company

Enter TradeEdge Market Connect

As a fully automated data exchange, powered by cutting-edge machine learning algorithms and EdgeVerve’s strong track record in retail and CPG business transformation, TradeEdge Market Connect was identified as the ideal solution. EdgeVerve’s experience of executing similar programs on a global scale meant that we could develop a systematic and structured initiative specifically designed to address the client’s problem.

We understand that every client is unique. The impact of any technology solution is only as strong as the partner’s understanding of the business context, and this approach saw us work in lockstep with the client’s leadership team. A detailed study of the client’s data acquisition processes was conducted through interactions with various stakeholders and this resulted in the development of a congruent and customized solution. It was time to get started.

Prepare. Perform.

The strength of our solution lay in its simplicity just as much as its effectiveness. The first step was to define and standardize processes, so the onboarding process became more manageable. Once retailer processes were aligned with the company’s SOPs, with enough elbow room to accommodate local and market-specific nuances, standard file specifications were defined to ensure consistency in data acquisition metrics and measures. To support the client’s efforts on the adoption of their new work-in-progress POS business intelligence system, we also created detailed user guides to educate their partners about the process.

A notable advantage of TradeEdge Market Connect is its ability to retain the complexities in the business process while harmonizing data to make it accurate and trustworthy.

The implementation was a resounding success with 325 client partners added to the platform in a mere five years; an achievement lent even more credence by the fact that the addition of the first retailer took just six months.

Customized onboarding models continuously optimized and accelerated the process, light years ahead of the original target of 100 partners in three years.

Hitting winners across the court

TradeEdge’s market impact was an absolute gamechanger. The numbers tell the story.

60% increase in partner network and brand visibility: 325 retailers. Over 32000 stores. More than 30 countries. Unifying the client’s distribution network through TradeEdge Market Connect instantaneously injected efficiency into the client’s business by empowering business users to optimize demand planning and forecasting.

Omnichannel intelligence: Name a channel. See a channel. By eliminating data analysis in silos, TradeEdge Market Connect’s harmonized data allowed the client to garner valuable business insights from cross-channel analyses previously inconceivable.

A breakthrough in sell-through: Profitability is the purest metric of successful transformation exercises. With inventory turn up to 30%, the company was able to make the transition from a sell-in demand planning organization to a highly competitive sell-through approach that measured customer purchase. The shift completely changed how over 2500 business users – strategic leaders, financial analysts, category manager, business planners, account managers, data scientists, and retailer operations teams – go about their day. Buoyed by insights from TradeEdge Market Connect’s data initiatives, the client was able to double down on their growth strategy – multiplying the impact of innovation, accelerating time to market, and building direct relationships with consumers. The resources freed up by the exercise are now being leveraged for progress in 10 countries and developing cities over the next five years.

TradeEdge Market Connect’s success in solving this business challenge propelled the client to replicate the program for another flagship brand. With the roadmap developed, we are now creating the engine room to fuel the client’s data-driven growth strategies, built on the back of best-in-class intelligence.

The win is complete. The legacy has only begun.