Zellers stores across Canada have sold their employees on the benefits of advanced business intelligence reporting.

Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC), the company that owns the chain, recently completed an upgrade across all 300-plus stores of its LIDS (Listed Inventory Database System) application.

Based

on Microsoft’s SQL Server database technology, LIDS helps manage stockroom inventory and ordering from suppliers.

The project was piloted in April and reached every Zellers store early last month.

“”The fact that we now call this application LIDS 3 should be a giveaway that it has already gone through a couple of evolutions,”” said Chris Marinis, manager of development services and information services at Toronto-based HBC.

“”The idea is for the store to know exactly what’s in their backroom, so as soon as their shelves become a little less than full, they know where to go in the back, get the merchandise and bring it to the front.””

LIDS was largely designed in-house, but there are several pieces that comprise Zellers’ inventory management. The point of sale devices are IBM technology. Once an item is scanned for sale, the POS writes the information to the database in real time and the inventory list is automatically deducted by one unit.

When products are shipped to the store by suppliers, barcodes on the bills of lading are scanned using Symbol LRT (Laser Radio Terminal) guns running over a Cisco wireless infrastructure.

That information is communicated to the database via QVS software. “”As soon as you scan that (information), we explode it,”” explained Marinis.

“”Then the associate knows from there everything that needs to go to the sales floor and everything that needs to stay in the back.””

HBC has a history of working closely with multiple vendors in order to achieve a specific goal. In July 2000, then-CIO Dave Poirer gathered Microsoft, IBM and Oracle (and later Cisco and Symbol) into an alliance to work on a comprehensive IT upgrade throughout all of HBC’s retail properties.

All of the vendors sat at the same table to come up with a solution that could work in concert.

That mentality is still in existence at HBC and most recently garnered the company a Best Corporate System award at the Retail Systems Achievement Awards in Chicago.

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