Bill McBeath of ChainLink Research published an article featuring highlights of what they learned at NRF’s annual conference in January.

Bill reported that after talking to many supply chain solution providers at the NRF ‘Big Show’ some recurring themes emerged: quicker and easier end-to-end integration and implementation, big data and machine learning, rising importance of product attribute data, IoT and RFID, low/no training and ease-of-use, and the expansion of solution providers’ footprints blurring the boundaries between solution categories.

Following is what the ChainLink team had to say about what they learned from RELEX at NRF:

RELEX Solutions, Optimization with a Strong Grocery Footprint

RELEX may be more familiar to European retailers than to those in North America. The company was founded in Helsinki in 2005, with a focus on using in-memory technology for rapid demand forecasting, inventory optimization, and replenishment automation. Last year, they acquired Galleria, expanding their footprint into assortment planning, category optimization, and micro and macro space optimization.

RELEX has a strong presence in grocery, especially fresh lines within grocery. One of their strengths is single number, integrated forecasting. They project stores’ future needs and order patterns, and use that to calculate demand backwards into the supply chain, determine when and what to replenish, in some cases all the way back to the supplier. For some of their fresh food customers, they support a FEFO (First-Expired, First-Out) distribution paradigm, using the products’ expiration dates to decide which items to ship next.

RELEX said that part of their philosophy is ‘no black boxes,’ i.e. if the system comes up with a number, no matter how sophisticated the science, the user should be able to go back and see why and how it came up with the number. They also provide ‘what-if’ functionality, so planners can test out different scenarios and see all the effects before ‘pulling the trigger’ to implement changes. RELEX currently has nearly 200 customers (retail, wholesale, and manufacturing) in 20 countries. They have had some recent wins in both the U.S. and Canada, and are making investments to expand further in North America. They told me they have 100% customer referenceability.

Read the full article here.