Salzburg-based SPAR Austria, a member of SPAR, the world’s largest food retailer consortium, is a €4 billion company with more than 800 outlets and 600 SPAR merchants in Austria. It wanted an end-to-end enterprise resource planning (ERP) and point-of-sale (POS) system to help managers of local stores control their inventory. After carefully researching the options, SPAR Austria decided to implement IMAge (Integrated Management Application for Grocery Enterprises), a solution based on the InterSystems data platform.
IMAge was originally developed by Austria SPAR International AG (ASPIAG), SPAR Austria’s international subsidiary, for the fast-growing Eastern European markets. The solution provides a browser-based interface that seamlessly combines information and functionality from local and centralized sources. SPAR’s computing center in Salzburg runs the IMAge ERP solution, which offers features such as inventory control and ordering, along with data analysis capabilities. Each store runs a local IMAge module that manages the POS cashier system, including support for mobile devices that enable data input at the store shelves. The local module accesses the central ERP system via an intranet. The web interface gives store managers a unified, end-to-end view of their sales, inventory, orders, and deliveries.
“In the past, stores occasionally ran short of goods because the store had to rely on inaccurate data calculated by the central office. Now, managers are able to control the movement of goods, the inventory in their stores, and pending deliveries,” says Günther Kilian, Process Manager at SPAR Austria. “Plus, the IMAge system is easy to use. The tool set has been matched perfectly with the requirements of employees.”
“Ease of use was an important consideration when we developed IMAge,” says Gerd Karnitschnig, Managing Director of SPAR IGT Slovenia and IT Coordinator at ASPIAG. “We used InterSystems technology to create a common user interface for the centralized and local portions of the application. From the user’s perspective, there is only one system to learn. That gives us a competitive edge.”
Performance and scalability are also very important as the IMAge system continues to be rolled out. SPAR stores range from convenience stores, to specialty gourmet food shops, to supermarkets, to huge “hypermarkets” that sell much more than just groceries. What began as a pilot project to install IMAge at six SPAR Austria hypermarkets expanded to about 800 SPAR stores, including two hypermarkets. That number now exceeds 1,400 SPAR stores.
And that’s not all. In addition to supplying software to more than 500 stores in Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, and the Czech Republic, ASPIAG also supports SPAR markets in Italy. Plans call for introducing IMAge into 200 SPAR stores and 300 SPAR merchants in that country. Another SPAR merchant, the Hervis sporting goods chain, will migrate its 150 stores in Austria and Eastern Europe to IMAge.
According to Karnitschnig, there are a number of improvements and additions being developed for the IMAge solution. “We have 25 developers working on new modules, like an integrated Balanced Score Card, web portals for suppliers, clients, and laboratories, forecast tools, and category management tools. And we plan to start using InterSystems technology to make our user interfaces even more interactive.”
“We are very happy with InterSystems data platform’s rapid web development, scalability, and high performance,” he says.