While there are a lot of choices for convenience store managers to track and analyze their inventory, it did not take long for Barry Khosropanah, Senior VP Information Technology for Fas Mart, to grasp the power Qlik® offers for the fast-moving convenience store and wholesale/retail fuel sector.
Prior to Qlik, when category managers at Fas Mart convenience stores wanted to analyze their line of commodities, there wasn’t a problem so long as they didn’t mind getting their answers one item at a time and as long as they weren’t in a hurry. If you needed to know how one particular product did compared to another, you probably weren’t going to get it.
“Using our existing software suite, search criteria was confusing and the process would time out when we ran a comparison. Even if you were able to get to a point where you could get a report, it could take a tremendous about of time to actually generate it,” Khosropanah said.
Khosropanah was impressed with Qlik the day he was given a demonstration by Jim Harder, a principal at Visual Data Group. “Preparing the data just took a few seconds and it provided the ability to connect as many platforms as you wanted and consolidate the information,” Khosropanah said. “Then there was the rapid speed of processing and the way an end user could mine the data, access resulting reports and get it in to a useful presention format. We loved it from an IT standpoint since we are a small team and didn’t have programming skills on staff.”
The new ability to rapidly and easily analyze inventory has been a boon for Fas Mart and Shore Stop, a convenience store chain concentrated on the East Coast of the United States. The company owns and operates 460 retail stores and gas station combinations as well as service more than 130 dealer sites. With headquarters in Richmond, Virginia, the company also has regional offices in Wilmington N.C., Wise, W.V. and Salisbury, Md.
“The first thing we did was create a report for category managers since they were the most data-hungry group,” Khosropanah said, adding that Qlik was up and running two days after the application was installed. It did not take long before there were more than 260 store managers looking at detailed sales information enhanced by item history going back two years, data that Khosropanah said represented “millions and millions of items.”
The data allowed store managers to look at seasonal trends and sales histories by week or by month or even a single date for the first time. “Analysis used to take hours, if we could do it at all, and are now completed in seconds,” Khosropanah said. “The time savings alone is worth the investment in Qlik.”
Khosropanah said more than a hundred people at Fas Mart have dashboards, including nearly 50 district managers. He has deployed custom dashboards for category managers and operational managers who get item sales reports on a daily basis. For further distribution of reports, Khosropanah added Nprinting, a convenient, automated and integrated QlikTech Technology Partner application that effortlessly distributes Qlik data without limitations.
“How they use it, access it, and imagine this data has had big impact,” Khosropanah said. “Prior to Qlik, we were only looking at the big picture trying to analyze patterns, and now everyone can get to data they want whether they are a power user or regional manager,” adding that the company has reduced inventory by $X and increased inventory turns by Y since Qlik was implemented.
According to Khosropanah, among the benefits of applying Qlik are a vastly improved inventory position by reduced spoilage and reduced cash shrinkage, which has shown up in the company’s bottom line. In addition, Khosropanah lauds the ease of use, the ease of dashboard development without the need to have a programming background, and the ability to apply scripting to automate processes and .connect to data sources. He also gives a lot of credit for success of Qlik at Fas Mart to Visual Data Group. “Without Jim and Visual Data Group, we might have struggled at some points but he came in with his team and showed us great ways to apply what we were already learning,” Khosropanah said.