When three disparate retail chains merged in 1999 to become Office National, the overriding principle was to leverage "economies of scale". Three years on and the same principle is still being applied, with the company purchasing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system on behalf of its 130 outlets.
Office National has chosen Queensland-based software developer Clear Objective to provide centralised control of its stock management, pricing/specification updates and Web presence.
The standardisation on Clear Objective's Clear Enterprise ERP system will also bring about the replacement of up to 18 standalone accounting and office management software packages, some less than a year old, used by the 130 outlets, said Graham Harman, CEO of Office National.
Harman said the company had been evaluating a standard enterprise software system for two years before opting for Clear Enterprise. He claims the software provides Office National outlets with an ERP system and CRM (customer relationship management) functionality they would not otherwise be able to afford.
By leveraging a single ERP system Office National, the largest independent retailer of office and business products and computers, can also standardise on a common e-commerce platform. Office National hopes this will enable seamless transactions between customers, outlets and suppliers. Until now, Harman said Office National has had to "re-key" orders and pricing information obtained by fax, e-mail and other forms.
Although Harman was reluctant to reveal the total cost of the project, it is expected to cost over $1 million, with each outlet contributing to the purchase.
Melissa Heslop, sales and marketing manager of Clear Objective, says the company positions its ERP package at the mid tier of the enterprise market, going head to head with the likes of Navision, Intentia and JD Edwards. The company is currently in the process of ramping up its channel with the announcement of a major channel partnership in the next few weeks.