ATLANTA — With a portfolio of more than 500 convenience stores, RaceTrac Petroleum has a large footprint to manage — a fete it accomplishes with the help of vendor partners. One two decade-long partnership is paying off for the retailer.
RaceTrac first joined forces with JDA Software Inc. more than 20 years ago to deploy the JDA Category Management portfolio, including JDA Space Planning, JDA Floor Planning, JDA Category Knowledge Base and JDA Space Automation Pro.
This ongoing partnership helps the convenience store retailer take the guesswork out of space and floor planning, and automates and streamlines the planogramming process.
According to Kent Bailey, senior space manager at RaceTrac, JDA facilitates how the company's Store Support Center facilitates merchandising down to each store.
"It holds our planogram catalog by category and manages that catalog on a store-specific basis, which allows us to manage our fleet at a granular level," Bailey told Convenience Store News. "It is also the first functional level of our inventory management scheme, limiting store orders to those products that exist on planograms at the store for vendors that we support through computer-assisted ordering."
The space management tools also allow RaceTrac to control the overall inventory holdings at each store.
Prior to selecting JDA, many of the capabilities were handled through a patch of networks that enabled diagrams to get to the stores through the company intranet.
"There was a strong vendor presence in planogram and assortment decisions, meaning we had to rely on a lot of outside help to get things done. There was limited financial reporting and granular knowledge for what actually existed at the store," Bailey explained.
"RaceTrac had a need for a proven solution to enable us to increase our merchandising execution, both at the stores and the Store Support Center, and JDA helped us do that," he added.
The partnership has paid off, and continues to do so. RaceTrac recently realized its most significant savings and benefits.
"RaceTrac's partnership with JDA has been great. We have much more granular insight into merchandising, which allows us to make better data-driven decisions," Bailey noted. "We are also able to take action faster, and measure the success of those actions through financial reporting, as well as proven execution."
The two companies came together in 2015 to conduct a health assessment that led RaceTrac to leverage the suggested best practices and improvement areas. The chain upgraded its entire footprint to bring a new level of sophistication and innovation to its space management and merchandising strategy.
"When we started with JDA 20 years ago, we did not take in all [that] the software had to offer. In 2015, we resourced a dedicated team around rebuilding the software infrastructure internally," Bailey shared. "This allowed for better, more efficient use of all systems and once we got all of them working in conjunction, the benefits were immediately realized."
With its portfolio spread across Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Texas, rolling out new technology solutions can be challenging — and Bailey acknowledges that change management is never easy.
"There were a lot of learnings to take place and a lot of stumbling blocks. Once we were able to communicate the benefits and value-add to the entire organization, it was embraced by all," he said.
Stumbling blocks aside, innovation — in technology and overall — is a key focus for the Atlanta-based retailer.
"Innovation is incredibly important to RaceTrac, and the convenience store business as a whole. Whether its new offerings, testing and learning or trying a new way of doing things, we embrace change and the value that it can bring to an organization," Bailey said.
The two companies will showcase their partnership and RaceTrac's results at the 2019 NRF Show, taking place Jan. 13-15 in New York.
"RaceTrac has a phenomenal evolution story and has completely transformed their category management processes, garnering some quick wins and, most importantly, increased customer satisfaction as they corner the convenience retail market in the South," said Terry Turner, president, North American retail, JDA.