NZ first with some Woolies supply-chain features

Supermarket price-cutting war predicted

Supply-chain software enhancements to be implemented in Woolworths New Zealand over the next two years flow out of development efforts in the company’s Australian operations, but with some back-office applications New Zealand will be leading, says David Morrison, IT manager for Woolworths’ New Zealand owner Progressive Enterprises.

The original applications “will be centred around the back-office operations and how we manage stock,” Morrison says, declining to go into further detail.

A Woolworths New Zealand spokeswoman confirms that the new systems will be crucial to the local company’s strike in a predicted New Zealand supermarket price-cutting war.

The local solutions have to be slightly different because of Progressive Enterprises’ ownership of the New Zealand operations.

“We have to take on board what Progressive does,” Morrison says.

Some differences will be necessary to manage the local OneCard loyalty scheme, for example, he says. Some of the local solutions may, in time, be taken back into Australia.

The parts of the enhanced systems already implemented in Australia include Stocksmart and AutoStockR stock control applications. These will backend a new point-of-sale system, WowPos, which will involve a complete PoS terminal refresh, installing terminals with touch-screens.

The Australian Financial Review reported in late February that Woolworths Australia’s supply chain technology would be extended to New Zealand.

“The intellectual property we have developed in our supply-chain systems, IT systems and distribution centres is now being applied to other businesses in Woolworths, including New Zealand Supermarkets, Liquor, Big W and Dick Smith Electronics,” group chief executive Michael Luscombe said.

In comments published in the group’s half-yearly results briefing notes, Luscombe praised the performance of systems like AutoStockR and StockSmart, developed as part of Woolworths’ Project Refresh, a project begun in 1999 under then-CEO Roger Corbett.

“Our IT platform continues to perform exceptionally well,” says Luscombe. “This provides Woolworths with an enhanced ability to plan and manage volumes across the distribution and store network, providing lower costs and improved in-stock positions. We continue to refine and improve our IT capabilities, which will continue to provide further benefits.”

Additional reporting by Renai LeMay, Australian Financial Review

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