Eqos, which sells retail supply chain management technology, is rolling out the Eqos 4.2 global sourcing application.
Enhancements in the latest version, announced July 22, are designed to allow retailers to make more informed decisions across sourcing operations and supplier networks.
Tony Wood, head of product management for Eqos, said upgrades to the configurability of the solution's user dashboards set it apart from competing applications.
"A number of companies have dashboards that provide information, but you still need the IT department involved to personalize the dashboard," Wood said. "With Eqos 4.2, if I'm a buyer, I'll only see the things I need to see."
He said users can configure their own dashboards to receive specific information and alerts.
"The functionality drives people to do work [that] is critical and important so they don't waste time," he said.
Eqos 4.2 also features enhancements to the application's existing product testing functionality.
"People are concerned about the quality of products in today's market," Wood said. "There are more rigorous capabilities for holding information around product tests and running and grading tests on product samples. It ensures products and samples pass all stringent testing procedures."
Enhanced functionality allows retailers to source a set and kit that may encompass multiple products, such as a shirt-and-tie set, either individually or as a combined unit.
"This provides the ability to more easily work on combinations and track the whole set, rather than look at individual items," Wood said. "It's a better way to negotiate price."
In the area of order management, Wood said Eqos 4.2 enables more efficient ordering and reordering of goods.
"You can take a product and look at sourcing it from a new supplier," he said. "You have the ability to pick up a product from the previous season and send it to a new supplier to get quotes."
Wood said the solution also allows retailers to maintain a product's original design and make changes to specific aspects of it, allowing easier reordering and sourcing of items that have undergone minor changes. He also said product variance capabilities enable retailers to easily source multiple SKUs associated with one design, such as shirts that come in varying colors and sizes or ribbons that come in different lengths and widths.
Jane Biddle, vice president of U.S. operations for Eqos, said version 4.2 can help retailers control and reduce existing costs by increasing operational efficiency.
"You can't control fuel costs or currency values," she said. "Some things are under retailers' control, and we're providing better tools to address them."
Biddle said Eqos 4.2 can also assist retailers in reducing risks associated with product quality and compliance, as well as in adopting private label merchandise.
As detailed in a 2008 benchmarking report from Retail Systems Research, collaboration with product designers can often provide significant benefits to retailers. The report indicates that 70 percent of retailers whose comparable store sales outperform the average have increased the percentage of merchandise they design together with suppliers. In addition, 80 percent of these retailers have experienced improvements in gross margin over the same period.
Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out eWEEK.com's Retail Site.