Old-School Retailer to Digital Powerhouse: The Journey for Cheap as Chips

Key achievements

  • Optimal deployment of store-level staff
  • Powerful data-driven decision making
  • Seamless omni-channel customer experience
  • Loyal customer base
  • Fast, accurate payroll 
  • Painless inventory management
  • Resilient, secure, future-ready IT operations

An opportunity to lead

Despite their success over 30 years of operations across more than 51 stores, senior management at Australian discount retailer, Cheap as Chips, knew a lack of digital capability was preventing the company from realising its full potential in the hyper-competitive retail sector.

With the opportunity at hand to win customers with a slick omni-channel presence, smooth shopping experiences and efficient store practices, Cheap as Chips was being bogged down with legacy IT issues.

“You can argue that a lot of retailers struggle to get the omni-channel presence, but it’s now a customer expectation”, says their Head of Technology, Daniel Whittle.

While the need to keep overheads low was never greater for retailers, their 1000-strong workforce struggled with costly, labour-intensive price ticketing systems and paper-based rosters. At the same time, management lacked an understanding of customer purchasing behaviour, preventing them from optimising their inventory management and delivering personalised buying experiences across both physical and digital platforms.

These issues compelled the team as Cheap as Chips to act.

“It wasn’t just a technology thing”

Being tasked with streamlining store-level operations while delivering on fast-changing customer expectations, Daniel aligned the company’s finance, marketing, and product leaders to sign off on a strategy addressing their pain-points.

The final scope of the project suggested a wider overhaul was needed:

“It was pretty clear we didn’t just need a piece of software, it wasn’t just a technology thing. We had to make sure whoever we were going to work with understood that it’s pretty easy to roll out new platforms, but it’s really hard to make sure these tools are used to support better ways of working”.

Sourcing a trusted transformation specialist

After a lengthy selection process, Wild Tech, a leading software solutions provider specialising in ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), was chosen by Daniel to consult on the project and implement the solutions.

“We chose Wild Tech because they were able to see the bigger picture behind the challenges facing the business and I felt they’d do whatever it takes to make it work”.

The right foundation and the right software

“With the help of Wild Tech, we actually rediscovered and reimplemented the backbone IT infrastructure in all of our 51 stores, as well as core central networking.” This ensured every store had failover access to the internet and to allow them to safely and securely access those SaaS products.

“There’s no point going on this journey and then on day one, everything crashes because you don’t have the speed and throughput to actually access the SaaS products. So there’s been a big cloud shift in the business on a technical level to get us to that point as well, which effectively happened behind the scenes of the project.”

The program represented true digital transformation, with NetSuite serving as the core solution. According to Grant Wild, Managing Director at Wild Tech, “NetSuite’s solution is the all encompassing, best-in-class choice for the retail supply chain distribution space. It was the perfect platform to be the backbone of their application framework.”

Co-ordinated solution designed for impact

As an end-to-end solution provider, Wild Tech made sure Cheap as Chips conquered the issues caused by legacy IT systems through a whole-of-business transformation effort involving the transition from on-prem systems to best-in-class, interoperable cloud retail products. This transformation realised enormous benefits across the company.

Millions saved in annual wages

The digital rostering for store-level employees, introduction of digital price ticketing, QR capabilities for several in-store functions, as well as the ability to accurately assess inventory levels led to an elimination of inefficient, labour-intensive practices in store, freeing up staff to focus on higher-value tasks.

Better decision-making

Greater analytics capabilities, with granular store-level data and reporting available at the push of a button, has allowed Cheap as Chips management to make use of a clear line-of-sight into how the business is performing, and make real-time decisions based on a single source of truth. According to Daniel:

“Using this data, we’ve been able to make some critical decisions which we wouldn’t have been able to make before [the transformation]”.

“Stickier” customer base

With the goal of reducing IT workloads, Wild Tech oversaw the delivery of a simplified group of systems, reducing the number of primary IT systems managed by the company’s tech department from ten to just three, underpinned by scalable, secure Netsuite technology capable of managing HR, POS, and ERP functions.

Hassle-free inventory management

Previously dealing with challenges around stock management and demand forecasting, Cheap as Chips now makes use of class-leading inventory management systems, helping them make more informed decisions. Daniel says:

“We’re providing our procurement teams with automated suggestive purchases and transfers to make sure that the relevant store has the right stock in the right place at the right time, based on data.”

“Achieving the impossible”

Digital transformation is essential for businesses to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced retail landscape. In partnership with Wild Tech, Cheap as Chips significantly overhauled their core infrastructure, achieved substantial improvements in operational efficiency, and can now make data-informed, customer oriented business decisions.

This future-proofing has given management at Cheap as Chips the breathing space needed to consider their next move, which the CEO predicts will be a foray into Artificial Intelligence.

Daniel reflects on the project’s success: 

“A lot of people told me that it couldn’t actually happen. It is a great feeling knowing that in and around you, you are leading the market in what you are doing. It shows that you don’t have to follow the example all the time, you can lead your own way and set the example.  It’s safe to say we did what many people thought was impossible.”