Frequently Asked Questions
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How many people do you have in your company?
We are an effective and agile team committed to solve the out-of-stock problem. Over 80% of the employees hold advanced degrees and 25% are PhDs in Mathematics, Statistics, or Computer Science. Several of our employees are from such prestigious engineering schools as Stanford University and university of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The majority of the Russian team are from two most prestigious Russian universities — Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (aka. Russian MIT) and Moscow State University. We have tight research partnerships with these universities, regularly publish in top academic journals, and several professors are members of our R&D team.
What if you cannot handle our scale?
We have had experience dealing with very large datasets in the past by working with a variety of clients such as X5 Retail Group, O'KEY Retail Group, Phillip Morris International, Baltika Brewery, M-Video Electornics Retail, Svyaznoy, Lama Retail Group, TechnoNIKOL, to name just a few. All of our solutions are available via the SaaS model and can easily scale to all your needs.
Why is your product better? What are the key differentiators?
We have the most accurate demand forecasting and out-of-shelf "hole" detection algorithms as we have consistently beat major supply chain management vendors in data-driven evaluation contests established by some of our clients. For example, we outperformed SAS Institute and IBM SPSS while predicting mobile phone sales for a major handset retail chain Svyaznoy — the project was awarded a prestigious CNews2008 award for the "Best Retail Innovation". Recently, O'KEY conducted an A/B test and picked us instead of RSi for on-shelf availability monitoring. We have developed our solutions in tight collaboration with our trusted clients and confident that they satisfy the best industry standards. Finally, being an effective agile team, we take an individual approach to every client and ready to provide required customizations — see the case study with Baltika Brewery when we made three non-trivial customizations in one project.
Why is your price significantly lower than competition?
There are several reasons for it. First, our R&D office is in Russia making our labor costs significantly lower. Second, currently, there is a temporary financial crisis in Russia — the $/RUB exchange rate is higher than it was two years ago making the production in Russia and sales in the USA very attractive from the economic point of view. In this situation, both our international clients and we win. Third, we are a small and agile team and our cost structure is very optimized. Rather than employing many average knowledge workers, we hire the best of the best on the local market in Russia. These workers produce qualitatively and quantitatively better work per unit of time but doesn't require as much extra salary due to the local labor market dynamics. Plus, our processes are also very optimized — nobody wastes valuable work time in unnecessary meetings or approvals. The overhead on integration is minimal compared to the legacy and large-scale competitiors. Fifth, big vendors do free pilots but then they put exceptionally high price tags on their solutions. Essentially, a company buying a solution from a big vendor pays for all other pilots that have been done for free and didn't convert into a sale. We don't think it is fair. Therefore, we charge for the pilots. To summarize, we achieve price reduction by having lower labor costs and leveraging the macroeconomic factors.
What do we do if a project is delayed? What anti-crisis measures do you have?
In case of delays on our side, we would reallocate more resources to the project. In case of delays on the client's side, we would provide more dedicated support and training to help overcome possible obstacles. Based on our experience, On-shelf Availability 360 adoption process is very standardized and simple — it only requires to configure a correct data export. For Computer-Assisted Ordering & Replenishment or for S&OP, the key possible sources of delays are the data standardization process, internal process innovation, and corporate culture change. With the well-documented technical description and the deployment schedule, which have been tested in multiple projects in the past, we maximally address possible delays.
How good is your customer service? What kind of requests do you support?
We have three tiers depending on your needs. The types of support requests and key customer support details are summarized here.
How reliable is your system? Have you had system outages in the past?
We haven't have any system crushes and outages in the past. All of our solutions are carefully tested following the software quality assurance (QA) best practices, and we use redundnacy to account for possible server failures. However, even if all of our precautions measures don't save the solution from going down (it never happened), we will handle the exceptional situation by providing dedicated customer service. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that all of our solutions are not critical for the real-time operations of the store and could be fixed by the beginning of the next business day.
I don't want to manage business partnerships with many vendors. Are you a "full-stack" supply chain management (SCM) vendor?
We provide on-shelf availability montioring and alerting instrument (OSA), a solution to optmize wareshousing, logistics, and replenishment, and a solution for sales and operations planning. These are our core products required for any retailer/manufacturer. To be completely honest and transparent, we aren't the full-stack SCM vendor. Being a small team, we focus on the most crucial SCM problems and provide the best-of-breed solutions at great prices. In our "Lab", we are currently working on POG generation and, overall, we can develop a custom SCM solution that fits your needs having a deep research and SCM background. The SCM software development / consulting rate will be very reasonable due to the reasons provided above.
We are afraid of working with the startup. What if you go out of business?
Our parent company, FORECSYS (FORecasting and REcognition SYStems) has been on the market for 16 years (since 2000). We have a constant influx of new employees from the partner research universities. Despite a significantly lower prices, our revenue allow us to continue innovating and grow our business (e.g. expansion to the USA with our market-validated SaaS solutions).
How long will it take to see a solution in action?
For On-Shelf Availability 360, the first results could be seen as soon as four days after you sign the contract and provide all necessary data. However, based on our experience the process usually takes around two-three weeks because of the data standardization work required on the client's side. For Computer-Assisted Ordering & Replenishment and for S&OP, the solution deployment time depends on the client's data quality and specific project needs/scope. Based on our experience, it might take three to seven months.
How many people do I have to allocate for a pilot project and evaluate a solution?
For On-Shelf Availability 360, it will require 32 hours max to prepare the historical data in the right format and send them to us for analysis. If you don't monitor OSA now and want to test its accuracy, you can run manual OSA measurements for a few days and compare the results. For two other solutions, we budget one full-time emloyee-month from your side. While preparing the solution for the deployment, we need to commnucate with Supply Chain, IT, Merchandising and Data people. Please see the financial model and our assumptions in the Value Calculator. As in the case of On-Shelf Availability 360, you can provide historical sales data and in this case we will prepare a report within three-four business days.
How much revenue/profit can we make?
Please see the financial models that we developed in the Value Calculator. The total effect from OOS reduction by 4 basis points is extra $12M in revenue recouped from lost sales. The cost reduction via automation and optimization with the help of computer-assisted ordering and replenishment reaches $77M for a chain with 100 stores. S&OP helps decrease labor costs on planning by 4 times and eliminate planning errors, which could be as high as 25% of the company yearly revenue. All numbers are provided for a chain with 100 supermarket stores.
I haven't heard about on-shelf availability (OSA) before. Is it very critical for our business?
Yes, top 100 retail companies do monitor OSA and according to the studies from HBS, Stanford, LBS and other top universities and retail alliances, it is consistently among top-3 retail problems. Walmart, having the largest supply chain in the world, defined it as the most important problem several years ago.
How can I act on the On-Shelf Availability 360's data shown in the daily reports? Measurements don't make us money.
You are right. However, it is important to note that "You cannot improve what you don't measure". On-Shelf Availability 360 is an OOS monitoring and quality control instrument that adds transperency to your business. Plus, it provides root cause analysis, constant OSA monitoring, and alerting. Your employees can immediately act on this information and improve specific elements of the supply chain or in-store operations. With the proper recommendations that we provide as part of our solution, you will be able to successfully reach the highest OSA industry standards.
Do you have experience working with the international clients?
Yes, we are rolling out our Computer-Assisted Ordering & Replenishment solutions for Carlsberg Eastern Europe in Q4 of 2016.
Do you have a native mobile app?
No, but we are happy to share that we are working on it. Already now, we have responsive mobile versions based on HTML5, which means that you can interact with the products using a mobile phone in the browser. Moreover, all of our reports support export to Excel, which you can open on any device and work with it offline. We can also provide an access to the private APIs if you want to build some internal dashboards.
Your price and value proposition is too good to be true. What are your drawbacks compared to the major SCM vendors?
First, we are completely transparent with our clients and explain that our cost reductions are due to lower labor costs and macroeconomic conditions. Our R&D office is in Russia. Second, we haven't heard any complaints from our current clients. Moreover, some of our current clients have switched from major SCM vendors to us. Third, in independent evaluations/contests, our algorithms consistently demonstrate superior performance and beat competition. Therefore, our value proposition is great indeed — we provide high quality SCM solutions at a great price. That's part of our international growth strategy. You are very welcome to join! Finally, if you have some special requirements, let us know and we will be happy to say whether we could satisfy them.
What are possible risks associated with the solution deployment?
The On-Shelf Availability 360, the deployment process is very standardized. You only have to provide data in the right format. The deployment processes for Computer-Assisted Ordering & Replenishment and for S&OP are more complex (since they requires real-time data processing and more data sources), and we identify the following risks. First, the project manager responsible for the deployment doesn't have sufficient capabilities and support in the firm to push the project forward. For example, s/he might not be able to effectively communicate with the internal IT department, executives, etc. Second, the project might be delayed because of incorrect estimates of the deployment complexity due to problems with the data on the firm's side (data in a non-standard format, no such data and need to collect it first); lack of the dedicated IT person who oversees the deployment and writes the necessary integration code. Third, some critical aspects of the firm's system are overlooked in the technical specs. If it is the case and tech specs adjustment requires less than one day, we do it without an additional contract. For the changes that require more than one day, we ask the firm to sign an extra contract describing the specs adjustment. Furth, employees might be reluctant to use a new system, react to notifications, etc. Therefore, for successful adoption of any solution, we recommend to support the roll-out at the management/executive level with the necessary administrative rules, polices, and endorsements.
What kind of customizations can you provide?
We can provide any kind of customizations starting from very simple UI and report format changes to a completely new SCM application development. An incomplete list of possible customizations includes: add a new field to the report; add a new graph to the report; add a new button the report; create a new report format upon the request of the client; create a private API to access data programmatically; create a mobile app for executives and managers quickly access the key statistics from their mobiles/tablets; create a brand new application leveraging the same time series forecasting algorithmic library. Being a small agile team, we take an individual approach to every client — see the case study with Baltika Brewery when we made three non-trivial customizations in one project.
Do you have some existing clients? Success stories?
Yes, absolutely. Please find the list of our current clients as well as the case studies here.