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Sometimes companies find the right technology partner by going through a lengthy and meticulous selection process-and sometimes they simply get lucky. Cooking.com, the specialty online and catalog retailer, "just sort of stumbled" onto the forecasting and automated replenishment solution that perfectly matched its needs, says Bryan Handlen, senior vice president of operations at the Santa Monica, Calif.-based cookware company.
More than pure serendipity was at work, however, since the discovery was made during the users' conference of an existing vendor: Catalyst International, Milwaukee, Wis. At its 2003 conference, Catalyst demonstrated new CatalystCommand Demand Management and Inventory Optimization applications that it was offering in partnership with JustEnough Software, Irvine, Calif. And while Cooking.com was not exactly shopping for a solution, Handlen says the company was aware that it needed to move beyond the spreadsheets and manual processes it was using.
"When we saw the Catalyst-JustEnough product presentation, we immediately realized what it could do for us," Handlen says. Company executives had looked at other systems in the past, he adds, "but the Catalyst system really impressed us from a cost/benefit standpoint." After seeing this product's capabilities, "we did not feel the need to go out and bring others in to compare it with," he says. "We felt certain there would be little out there that could compete for the price."
Having an existing and happy relationship with Catalyst was a bonus that gave Cooking.com the confidence to move forward quickly with purchase and implementation. The company had been using the Catalyst warehouse management system at its distribution center in Ontario, Calif., since 1999. "We had always received excellent support from Catalyst on our WMS, so we had a high expectation going in that we would receive great support on Demand Management, and that has been the case," says Handlen. Implementation occurred early in 2004 and took only a few weeks, he says. "This gave us plenty of time to use the system for a while before we entered our busy holiday season."
|"Lead times just didn't mean a whole lot to us in the past because we weren't able to truly track them."|
- Bryan Handlen of Cooking.com
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