After the category captain had produced planograms each cycle, the manual process used to extract, filter, and aggregate distinct store UPCs from the planograms was plodding and ineffective. The extraction process required JDA® Space Planning™ and Space Automation scripts to open and extract planogram data, and then store the output in text files. Planogram text data was then imported into Microsoft® Access™, filtered for distinct UPCs, and reformatted for delivery to a third party. This was a daily process and was necessary to maintain price tag authorizations within Walmart® stores.
The entire extraction, filtering, edits, and distribution process required subject matter expertise in JDA™ applications, programming skills, a keen understanding of AS2 technology, as well as Microsoft Access, and the workflow itself.
Non-IT staff members spent as much as thirty minutes per day processing changed files. The solution scope also included enhancements for extracting and storing item authorization data. Items included UPCs (Products) that were in new planograms, but not in the company’s product master tables.
Digitalrep developed software that replaces manual tasks performed by the Space Management team. All steps in the workflow, starting with data extraction, and continuing with filtering and improving the data, are now handled by a single, web-driven application, and a robust set of validation procedures running on a back-end Microsoft 2008 Enterprise server. A 30-minute daily process was replaced with a 1-minute task that provides instant AS2 feeds to the third party organization.
AS2 (Applicability Standard 2) is the draft specification standard by which vendor applications communicate business-to-business data (including EDI and XML) over the Internet using HTTP, a World Wide Web standard. AS2 provides security for the transport payload through digital signatures and data encryption, and ensures reliable, non-reputable delivery through the use of receipts. Digitalrep provides full compliance with the AS2 specification using Drummond Certified AS2 software.
In addition to automating the workflow, Digitalrep improved the process by extracting planogram items that were not found in the master product database. New items are now extracted, emailed via Microsoft Excel™ attachment to the category management team, and then imported with an intranet dashboard tool. Real-time updates provide several advantages, including super-fast data warehouse updates, and the elimination of space allocation for "unknown" items. Prior to these improvements, reports included “NULL” or “UNKNOWN” attributes for many items. Today, this process requires that every item on the shelf is profiled to ensure proper segmentation for report groups (Segments, MFG, Brand, Package Style, etc.).