January 21, 2004, 12:00 AM

Dunkin’ Donuts saves $2 million in one year with web-based store planner

By trading paper-based store plannners for a web-based system that connects its 9,000 donut shops with headquarters, Dunkin’ Donuts is saving millions of dollars in operating costs by cutting down on materials, processing time and data errors.

By trading paper-based store plannners for a web-based system that connects its donut shops with headquarters, Dunkin’ Donuts is saving millions of dollars by cutting down on materials, processing time and data errors, the company reports.

Dunkin’ Donuts, a unit of U.K.-based Allied Domecq PLC, is realizing the savings by using the web-based Task Management store planogram system from Reflexis Systems Inc. for about 9,000 locations, notes Raju Sharma, director of marketing for Reflexis.

The savings come in the elimination of paper-based forms, the time it takes to fill out and send these forms and the reduction of data-entry errors. "Now if there’s a new coffee flavor added to the menu, it can all be done instantly online, without having to print out thousands of forms," Sharma says. Dunkin’ Donuts presented metrics resulting from its use of the Task Management system at the National Retail Federation conference in New York last week.

Likewise, office products retailer Staples expects to save millions of dollars a year by using Reflexis’s Task Management system as a means of improving communications with stores, Sharma says. Once a new merchandising program is launched, store managers across the country are able to view program details, while corporate managers and field supervisors can check the same system at any time to monitor program status in each store.

Paula Rosenblum, director of research at AMR Research Inc., says web-based store planner systems from companies like Reflexis are revolutionizing the way retailers can communicate between headquarters and stores to assure that each store is performing the proper merchandising and promotional programs. "There really was nothing that did this before," Rosenblum says. "You could’ve made a stretch and put this into Microsoft Project Central, but that’s only a one-to-one distribution, not a one-to-many relationship that connects headquarters with hundreds of stores."

In the past, the production of cumbersome paper reports--difficult and costly to modify and re-send once they were printed and on the way to stores through courier services--hampered efforts to coordinate tasks for stores. These reports would be followed by additional instructions via a mixture of phone, fax and e-mail communications, forcing store managers and employees to organize messages through multiple channels. "Store managers would have to check how the latest instructions fit in with earlier instructions, but the messages were disorganized in different means of communication," Sharma says.

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