Lifeway Christian Stores’ shoppers’ needs differ from store-to-store — a factor that pushed the chain to revamp its merchandising processes.

For the specialty retailer, this has meant pursuing macro- and micro-localization strategies. From the macro level, the company still wanted to manage assortments that deliver a consistent brand experience – not only in terms of the products offered, but also in how they are stocked and presented.

However, as customers’ expectations continue to change, Lifeway knows it is paramount to cater to local tastes and preferences.

“No longer can universal assortments or even cluster-level assortments alone satisfy all of a local store’s customers,” said Bill Crayton, the retailer’s VP merchandising. “Micro-localization enables those at the store level who know their customers the best to influence the product assortment and presentation.”

However, an aging, customized merchandising system couldn’t support this endeavor. The 12-year-old system managed several million store/SKU combinations — and mostly through manual and spreadsheet-based processes. Meanwhile, order quantities were predetermined based on static stock levels rather than dynamic sales trends — practices that limited ability to meet unique store-level assortment needs.

Lifeway was in need of a modern solution that could provide a ‘single version-of-the-truth’ across the enterprise, driven by calculated store-level sales data. It also wanted a solution that could allocate and replenish merchandise based on sales trends at individual stores.

“We didn’t want manual intervention,” Crayton said. “We wanted a forward-looking forecasting process that was easy to use and had all the science built-in.”

The specialty retailer added a software-as-a-service merchandising solution from Relex that centralizes planning process and…