Wellness Warehouse has taken an unusual approach to its business systems by implementing SAP All-in-One even before it opened its doors for trading. Wellness Warehouse is the first retailer in the South African market to focus on providing all wellness products, services, and consumables in a single shopping experience.
Shawn Whiffler, Wellness Warehouse central merchandising manager, says: “Wellness Warehouse is a complex business, covering everything to do with wellness – from clothes, food, and books to flowers, pharmaceutical products and fresh produce, as well as providing a clinic, a spa, and a café in each outlet.
“At the outset we wanted an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that would allow us to manage such a multi-faceted business with maximum efficiency. Specifically, we wanted centralised buying and planning control but also the flexibility to allow individual branches to procure certain products locally where appropriate.
“Also, because the Wellness Warehouse concept is new in South Africa and our growth plans are ambitious – we aim to open 20 shops nationwide in the next five years – we needed not only scalability but a system that can be rapidly adjusted to help us refine what we are doing as the business progresses.
“SAP All-in-One gives us all these options. More importantly, perhaps, it is based on best practices giving us a business process blueprint on which we could structure our organisation for optimal operations. In other words, by setting up SAP All-in-One before we opened our doors, we’ve given ourselves the best possible start in terms of running the business in the right way to achieve the outcomes we want. And, we’ve minimised our risk, at both an operational and a technological level.”
Implementation of SAP All-in-One began in February 2007, with the Wellness Warehouse head office in Cape Town going live in June, the first Cape Town store opened and went live in August 2007, and the second one as well as the first store in Johannesburg opened before the end of 2007.
“An additional advantage of using SAP All-in-One is the fact that UCS, our implementation partner, has an unsurpassed track record with SAP implementations in the retail sector” Whiffler says. “Also UCS specialises in point of sale technology that is pre-integrated with SAP and the CKS pharmaceutical package that is also pre-integrated with SAP. So it made sense not only to go with UCS and SAP All-in-One, but to outsource the operation of our entire system to UCS. That way we don’t have to have IT resources in-house but we still get the best solutions at all levels of our operations.”
UCS provided a fixed cost implementation. “You can do that, even with a complex business like Wellness Warehouse, if your client is prepared to adopt best practice and implement a solution that is used by many respected local and international retailers” says UCS’ Craig Butler. “You can then design the functionality in such a way as to enable the customer to make the best use of his system in the shortest possible time frame.”
Whiffler agrees. “Neither the UCS’ team nor ours made assumptions about what needed to be done. We clarified each step jointly before going on to the next and our requirements of each other were always clear ahead of any action being taken.”