Woolworths' seven-year upgrade of its supply chain systems is nearing an end for its Australian supermarket operations, which it is now replicating across its New Zealand supermarkets, BWS and Dan Murphy, BIG W, and Dick Smith.
Woolworths operates supermarkets as well as BWS, Dan Murphy, BIG W, and Dick Smith stores in the island nation; however, the New Zealand operation has lagged behind the Australian division when it came to implementing the supply chain technology introduced in its long-running Project Refresh initiative.
"The integration of our business in New Zealand is going very, very well," Woolworths chief executive officer, Michael Luscombe said during the company's full year earnings announcement this morning.
"The roll-out of our systems, our in-store systems at the front end, the back of house, our AutoStockR, our merchandising systems, our financial systems, our warehouse systems, are all pretty much on track, in fact, ahead of track."
"The merchandising system is in place, so we have been able to decommission the legacy systems that were there. The point-of-sale [system] is well and truly on its way to being rolled out to all stores, as is AutoStockR," he added.
The systems the supermarket giant has attributed to transforming its Australian supply chain include StockSmart, used to forecast replenishments required for its distribution centres; AutoStockR, its store forecasting system, its warehouse management systems and transport management systems.
The New Zealand supermarket supply chain system refresh comes as Woolworths consolidates its distribution centres, cutting down its list from 31 to nine regional centres, two national centres and two new centres in Sydney and Melbourne built specifically to support its liquor operations.
Woolworths' director of finance Tom Pockett attributed the company's reduction in inventory it carried to its new systems.
"The key thing here is the system's capability to manage inventory levels on an ongoing basis gives us a great strength. So as retail trade fluctuates from month to month, the disciplines we have in place to manage our inventory is very strong," said Pockett.
Luscombe flagged the introduction of Woolworths' so-called "e-pump" system for its supermarket-attached petrol business.
"It will mean you won't need to go and pay in the booth and you'll be able to go and get out on to the road as quickly as possible," he said.
Woolworths has already claimed success in its customer rewards "Everyday Money" program, launched in partnership with HSBC and Mastercard. Woolworths has claimed it has issued 3.8 million cards which will allow customers to redeem petrol discounts after shopping at its supermarkets.
The retail giant has also recently claimed credit for its transaction capabilities: having made arrangements with four major Australian banks to process all transactions through its own switch.
Woolworths is also planning a non-contact payment system using the Everyday Money card, which it plans to release to some petrol locations at the end of the year.