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Clarks Partners with Big Data Firm to Overhaul its Supply Chain

Clarks is bringing the power of data to its supply chain with a new partnership with Whishworks, an information technology firm specializing in the integration of applications designed to handle big data.

Whishworks is a partner with Mulesoft, a California-based distributor its Anypoint connected data platform. Whishworks will lead the integration of Anypoint into Clarks’ new warehouse management system to create and optimize a “truly connected and automated environment.”

According to a statement from the footwear company, this will be the first of many supply-side changes Clarks plans to make in the coming weeks.

“Merchandise financial planning is a significant program that Clarks and Whishworks are working on,” Guy Mason, chief information officer at Clarks, said in a statement. “Our goal is to implement a global merchandise planning solution that will replace multiple legacy systems across many business functions, creating a step change in the global annual planning of fifty million pairs of shoes across price, product and location.”

Clarks says it ships about 75,000 pairs of shoes a day, making cutting-edge distribution a key part of its “global business transformation initiative.” It began the process by purchasing Mulesoft’s warehouse management application suite and then turning the reins over to Whishworks to create an “API-led” system. This allowed Whishworks to focus on the implementation of various applications from the ground up to work as a complete and discrete system without disrupting the daily operations of the Clarks supply chain.

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“Retail is getting complicated. To be successful, companies utilize a host of different platforms, systems and applications that require many time-consuming and costly integrations,” Edward Davies, VP of sales at Whishworks, added. “We are excited about the opportunity to help Clarks reduce the complexity and time required to innovate, bringing significant cost savings and faster time-to-value.”

One of the key benefits of implementing such a system, Whishworks said, is the ability to quickly and seamlessly incorporate new technology as it becomes available, which can improve a brand’s ability to respond to changes in consumer demands.

“With the global supply chain becoming more complex and competitive, it is no longer a case of simply stocking shelves and waiting for shoppers to come rushing through the doors,” Clarks CIO Mason continued. “Rapid developments in technology are changing the game and it is no longer a matter of big business versus small, but rather, faster versus slower. Clarks is a modern example of a really big brand that is on the path of getting really fast.”

Over the past couple of years, Clarks has made improvements to its UK-based manufacturing and distribution facilities. In 2017, the brand built a volume manufacturing facility with the ability to produce more than 300,000 of its famous desert boots per year. The construction of the facility, located in Somerset, England, also marked the first time “state-of-the-art robot-assisted technology” was integrated into a Clarks facility.