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Case Studies

Home Hardware Enhances Retail Operations, Smooths Inventory Management

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Home HardwareWith more than 1,070 retail locations across Canada, Home Hardware Stores Limited, Canada’s largest independent hardware, lumber, building materials and furniture retailer, relies on supreme efficiency when it comes to inventory management.

After running into limitations with the memory size and overall capabilities of their current mobile devices, Home Hardware needed to explore the implementation of an advanced hardware solution to help increase productivity, while easing operations and maximizing inventory control.

Ryzex, a leading provider of worldwide mobile technology solutions, worked with Home Hardware to find a new system that would meet their needs. As a result, they chose to implement a new mobile computer to support their in-house software application. The goal: to provide better inventory management and mobile solutions for their vast network of independent Dealers.

After a hardware selection and comparison process that involved soliciting in-depth feedback from their Dealers, the company selected the Intermec CK3 mobile computer, coupled with PB32 wireless printers to ease operational efficiency and enhance mobile functionality, immediately seeing improved efficiency as a result.

Enhancing Operations

Home Hardware had already been working with Ryzex to provide the support services needed to keep their legacy solution up and running, and turned to them again when it came time to implement a new hardware device.

“We’d begun running into limitations in terms of capacity and memory size on our previous devices, and we really needed a new platform that wouldn’t limit our future use,” said Keith Hunt, Director of Retail Applications for Home Hardware. “We were becoming limited in the technology and scalability of the devices we were using, so our main goals were to improve in those areas.”

Home Hardware worked with Ryzex to find a solution that would increase abilities in terms of inventory tracking, product look-up and storage capacity of additional data – including color image capabilities and sales data – without bogging down their systems. They also looked for a full solution that was simple and easy to use, painless to support once distributed to their Dealers, and that would add future-proofing to their IT arsenal for increased productivity moving forward.

With more than 60,000 SKUs, Home Hardware Dealers rely on their mobile computers for daily product look-up and inventory management, something that ultimately affects their customer service. And, while Home Hardware has a Retail Applications Team that makes recommendations for the store Dealers, decisions are ultimately made by the company’s more than 1,070 Dealer-owners.

“We formed an internal committee to help with the selection process, but it was also very important to us that our Dealers play a large part in the ultimate choice,” said Hunt. “We used one of our large trade shows to allow the Dealers to test each option and provide notes on their preferences.”

After testing a handful of options, the Intermec CK3 was the overwhelming favorite.

“Not only was the Intermec CK3 the clear favorite, but we felt good about the decision knowing what a positive working relationship Ryzex has with Intermec,” said Hunt. “The CK3’s size, color screen for our product photos, brightness, ease of use and overall functionality were all the top reasons why we ultimately selected it for our stores.”

Home Hardware’s internal evaluation team also knew their new software would integrate seamlessly with the CK3. They also chose to implement Intermec PB32 mobile printers as well, which would be used to streamline product labeling as well as price and shelf changes. Ryzex also worked with Home Hardware to implement a mobile device management solution, recognizing this would make it easy for the Retail Applications Group to centrally manage and support devices for the Dealers.

Streamlining Success

“On a day-to-day basis, we were very limited in the capacity of the records we could hold, maxing out at about 25,000 to 50,000 data items depending on the handheld,” said Hunt. “Now we can load more than 300,000 records, including items with color photos, sales information, etc. – it’s a much faster system and more than sufficient to handle all of our data needs from the warehouse all the way down to the store level.”

In terms of staff adoption, the intuitive nature of both the new software platform and hardware made training an easy process.

“We designed the software application that it runs on so that it would be very intuitive for the Dealers. Because of this we saw a fairly quick adoption rate once it was rolled out,” said Hunt. “Once everything was set up and running it was tough for us to get the CK3s out of their hands.”

Hunt also noted positive feedback came in almost immediately.

“The ruggedness of the CK3, as well as the upgraded scanners, the brightness of the color screen and the overall ease of use were all among some of the initial feedback we heard,” said Hunt. “Because they are used in a retail environment, they do get dropped, but they have had no problem functioning on a daily basis and that’s a great benefit to us not to have to worry about them.”

The new system’s data transfer speed has been very impressive as well. With two major trade shows each year, all retail product information needs to be loaded onto the handhelds for Dealers to showcase product and place orders. Loading all the data was previously taking six hours or more on some of the old devices.

“Now we can load the product information we need for our trade shows in about 30 minutes – that is huge for us in terms of time savings alone,” said Hunt.

Keys to Success

Hunt notes the great working relationship between Ryzex and Intermec as crucial for their streamlined implementation.

“The support we received from the Ryzex and Intermec teams in terms of answering all of our questions and getting us up and running as we learned a new technology were so important to make sure we had a great roll out,” said Hunt.

For the future, Home Hardware plans to roll the new system out to the remaining stores, and also hopes to implement some of the additional wireless features of the CK3. In the meantime, they are happy with the advanced technology the new system offers their Dealers.

“We are setting up our Dealers up for the future – we are now operating from a platform we can move forward with as our data needs increase, and that’s something that we just couldn’t do with our previous devices.”