September 23, 2004

JDA, PeopleSoft Team Up to Help Retailers

By Evan Schuman, eWEEK

In an attempt to fend off retail moves from SAP AG, PeopleSoft Inc. and JDA Software Group Inc. have announced an alliance that they say better serves retailers.

Under the deal, the companies will integrate PeopleSoft's Enterprise Financial Management with JDA's Portfolio Merchandise Management. The move follows PeopleSoft's alliance with IBM, announced earlier this week.

Peter Charness, JDA's senior vice president of marketing and the company's chief product officer, said the alliance makes sense because the two firms each offered essential but non-competing packages for retail IT executives.

The integration of the two packages will deliver more real-time information along with improvements in assortment management, shelf management, planning, replenishment, space allocation, transaction management and inventory management, Charness said.

The combined offering will be more effective in addressing such problems as multichannel issues. When a customer makes a purchase in one store and then returns it to another, or even makes an online purchase and returns it to a brick-and-mortar location, it is critical to have a package that understands the special inventory implications, Charness said.

Another problem is that some retailers will sell the exact same product for a different price in different cities. "There is tremendous change going on now throughput the retail arena," Charness said. "People didn't used to do pricing by specific [geographic] zones."

Many of those retailers are now placing different ads—with different pricing—in various media all over the country, requiring a lot of people to watch the details. With the combined package, "we've now provided automation that takes [care] of that kind of stuff," he said. "Our inventory management is flexible and has the ability to look at products in multiple ways."

Meanwhile, Bill Hewitt, group vice president for global industry solutions with PeopleSoft, spoke about the real-time potential of the integrated package. Typically, customer returns and supplier returns come into the system at different points, and business managers don't even see them until the end of the reporting cycle, when everything gets reconciled. With the integration, Hewitt said, getting real-time information will be much easier.

In the near future, Hewitt said, PeopleSoft and JDA will be adding additional predictive analytics—to forecast trends—that can issue instant alerts on-screen and via e-mail and PDA. He also promised hyper navigation, which is essentially the ability to type in free text to make queries.