Coles extends IT overhaul to supply chain and procurement with SAP

S/4HANA on the Azure cloud for finance and Ariba for procurement.

Australian supermarket giant Coles has announced updating more of its IT, with supply chain management and finance and procurement functions being migrated to SAP.

Specifically, Coles Group has adopted the SAP S/4HANA platform for finance and deployed the SAP Ariba procurement solution. S/4 HANA is deployed in the Microsoft Azure cloud.

Coles CFO Leah Weckert said the implementation of the two SAP platforms was an "important milestone in the continued modernisation of Coles' systems". She believes the shift to SAP will enable future transformation projects and "support ongoing improvement in business processes".

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"We had a very ambitious five-month timeline to implement SAP S/4HANA and we adopted a very innovative implementation approach … this was a remarkable collaboration between the finance and technology teams," she said.

"SAP Ariba was also implemented at pace and is fundamentally changing how Coles purchases goods not for resale right across the business. It's a foundational part of our Smarter Selling strategy."

The conglomerate also implemented GT Nexus, a global trade platform built by Infor, to streamline imports, reduce costs, and modernise Coles' international supply chain.

GT Nexus is also expected to give Coles real-time visibility of international stock.

Coles in February announced SAP would be charged with automating its indirect procurement, HR, and business processes, using S/4HANA, Ariba, and SuccessFactors, in a move that Coles' chief information and digital officer Roger Sniezek said at the time would allow it to be as efficient as possible across the retail environment for both customers and team members.

It was followed in March by a partnership with Optus to roll out a high-speed network at over 2,400 stores and corporate sites.

In the same month, Coles and British online grocery business Ocado came to an agreement to improve the former's online grocery delivery services by the end of 2023.

Coles is using the Ocado Smart Platform (OSP) for its website and mobile applications and Ocado is also providing Coles with its "last-mile routing management technology".

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July saw two further digital transformation moves by the grocery giant, with the first being a partnership with Microsoft.

Coles is implementing Dynamics 365 in some of its business units and Office 365 as part of its Modern Workplace program. It has also selected Microsoft Azure as its main cloud, with the grocery giant set to deploy a range of Azure services that deliver AI capability.

Microsoft is also investing in a Coles innovation lab to create future innovative retail solutions.

The partnership with Microsoft is expected to help lift Coles' "overall tech intensity and digital capability", with 100 of its 700 IT staff having moved through Microsoft's cloud training as of July.

Coles in July also extended its long-term agreement with technology services provider Accenture to help support the rollout of several new technology solutions, which is forecast to deliver total cost savings of AU$1 billion over four years.

It follows the company last year standing up two "ambient automated distribution centres" by German automation firm Witron.

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