Retail Solutions - Homebase rolls out SAP system to improve in-store availability

DIY giant Homebase has completed roll-out of an SAP-integrated application solution that improves availability and boosts the retailer's ability to take customer orders.

The multi-million pound deal uses elements of the SAP Net Weaver suite to create an enterprise portal linking the retailer's 278 stores to its replenishment network.

The system can also be accessed via mobile handsets within stores over the retailer's wireless network, enabling staff to check stock and help with customer queries about availability of product lines.

Homebase head of SAP support Darrol Radley admitted the system was brought in to support a retail strategy that has changed almost out of all recognition since SAP was signed up, because of the change of management experienced at the retailer.

'At the time, we had a range of bespoke mainframe systems that were nearing the end of their functionality four years ago. We needed something that would support our plans for expansion into other countries and into a big-box format,' said Radley.

Both these ventures had been shelved by the time Homebase was acquired by Schroder Ventures, now Permira. However, the system continues to bring business benefits.

'We still needed a platform that could give us up-to-date purchase order and invoice payment functionalities,' said Radley. 'However, the biggest change is the move to central replenishment, so we get more consistent control over stock availability. The integration with the wireless network allows staff to be on the shop floor serving customers when they are checking stock.'