As part of its ongoing process of reinventing itself, home goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. recently launched a three-year, $250 million technology upgrade plan intended to make digital and store operations function more seamlessly together.
Bed Bath & Beyond (No. 58 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000) selected Oracle as its enterprise resource planning (ERP) technology provider. The retailer will use Oracle Cloud software to provide real-time financial, supply chain and merchandising data. Compared with Bed Bath & Beyond’s current technology systems, the Oracle technology will provide new data, insights and planning capabilities, the retailer says. The retailer says the new ERP technology will replace an existing “legacy suite of technology systems.” It did not offer specifics or name the vendors of its current technology.
ERP systems are suites of software used to manage numerous business functions, such as finance, merchandising, marketing and supply chain operations. The software ties the processes together, enabling managers to exchange data more easily. Such systems use a single, defined data structure that typically draws from a common database.
Bed Bath & Beyond’s tech roadmap
The three-year “technology road map” will significantly upgrade merchandising, product life cycle management, pricing and supply chain management systems, said John Hartmann, chief operating officer, during a Jan. 7 conference call with analysts.
“Outdated technology won’t get us to growth. This investment is critical because the capabilities we are adding will only accelerate our customer experiences, growth and efficiency,” Hartmann said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.
A Bed Bath & Beyond spokesman says the new ERP technology is a “foundational layer.” Putting that in place will allow the retailer to add capabilities over time, he said, without being specific. The spokesman declined to say how much the ERP technology will cost but called it a “substantial investment.”
The technology will allow Bed Bath & Beyond to automate many of the data collection, utilization and analysis tasks it now does entirely or partially by hand. As an example, he said running product promotions in tandem with merchandise vendors will become easier.
The changes will have a more negligible effect on marketing-related systems. That’s because Bed Bath & Beyond already modernized its marketing with cloud-based software, he said. Hartmann also serves as president of Bed Bath & Beyond’s buybuy BABY unit.
‘The best chance of surviving and thriving’
Seth Basham, managing director for equity research at investment firm Wedbush Securities Inc., says Bed Bath & Beyond’s transformation is taking it in the right direction. He says the retailer understands the need to be more technology-centric and digital-first in its approach.
“I don’t think that it’s too late for this for for this company to turn itself around,” he says. “We’ve seen some very good signs of improvement over the last couple quarters—and this with the company at a significant deficit as it relates to its technology capabilities.”
Putting the right software in place now will help the retailer advance further, he says. He added that the ERP is a critical component because it connects various aspects of the business. The company has been doing things like merchandising, inventory planning and promotional analysis using Excel spreadsheets for years. Having the ERP system in place, he says, “will completely change their ability to act more quickly and make smarter decisions.”
Bed Bath & Beyond’s turnaround does not have a 100% probability of success, Basham says. “But, I think that they are doing the right things and have the best chance of surviving and thriving with the choices that they are making today,” he adds.
Better inventory visibility
The ERP upgrade will provide better visibility of in-store inventory levels to employees and online shoppers, the spokesman says. It will also make it easier for the retailer to track backroom inventory and identify low stock levels by making the inventory information flow faster and more efficiently. He says the added awareness will help employees and shoppers determine what’s available for various omnichannel options. If, for example, a customer wants to order an item for curbside pickup or local delivery, she will get a more accurate information about availability in local stores. The result should be fewer orders cancelled or wrongfully rejected due to out-of-date inventory, he says. That, he says, should boost sales.
As part of its strategy to bolster its omnichannel capabilities, the retailer launched same-day delivery at its Bed Bath & Beyond and buybuy BABY units as of Sept. 29, 2020. Also, after re-opening some of its stores in the spring of 2020 that were closed due to coronavirus-related shutdowns, Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. expanded curbside pickup to about 1,350 locations, an addition of about 600 stores, and roughly 97% of its stores. Its omnichannel services include ship from store, buy online pick up in store (BOPIS), curbside pickup and local delivery.
In its fiscal third quarter, which ended Nov. 28, 2020, Bed Bath & Beyond had 1,391 stores, including 951 Bed Bath & Beyond stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Canada. After rolling the service out in stages in 2020, virtually all those stores offer ship-from-store services, the company says.