Founded in 1990, the United Company for Central Markets (UCCM) is a family-owned company specialized in retail and distribution across Lebanon.
Over 3 decades, the group expanded to include more than 43 retail stores in Lebanon, with some of the leading brands such as Makhazen, COOP, Freshway Supermarkets, all supplying the best products to the Lebanese shopper.
Prior to implementing LS Retail software, UCCM had been using multiple in-house systems for inventory, finance, HR and POS, with some of these in place for 25 years. Although UCCM could modify processes to some extent, there were evident technological limitations, as they had to integrate four separate, outdated systems. As the software was old, there were few IT developers and technicians that could support them and develop them, which also hindered progress. The company realized they needed a technology upgrade.
UCCM started evaluating different software solutions, looking for one that could accommodate their needs and could be implemented quickly. They started looking at Microsoft software, as there are many industry-leading solutions built on Microsoft technology. UCCM decided to investigate further LS Central, a complete all-in-one retail software that extends Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. “We are a retailer, what we value most is the customer. LS Central provided this wonderful out-of-the-box POS solution, along with a powerful back office at a very competitive price compared to other vendors” says Ziad Daher, IT & Business Development Director at UCCM.
As part of their technological upgrade the company selected Coders, an EDM company and certified LS Retail partner, to implement the solution. “EDM/Coders delivered all requirements by helping us put the technology puzzle in shape, between Office365, LS Central, and Power BI.”
Due to an unstable infrastructure in Lebanon, UCCM opted for an on-premises deployment, with a backup environment in the cloud. “Once the Lebanese infrastructure becomes stable, we will definitely move to a cloud environment as we are strong believers in it.”
The company and IT partner had to deal with a unique context during the implementation. 2019 and 2020 were among the most challenging years in the history of Lebanon, with political crisis, hyperinflation, and the Covid-19 pandemic. The company also faced internal challenges included opposition to change and lack of tech literacy. The company initiated an internal academy where they showed them the functionality of LS Central. The company believes this academy was instrumental in changing their employees’ mentality and perception of the new technology.
By solving individual and collective challenges, the company and IT partner managed to successfully implement the system in all branches in two years.
Having unified commerce software LS Central enables UCCM to:
- Quantify their basket and analyze profitability thanks to the seamless integration with Microsoft Power BI, Microsoft’s business analytics service.
- Identify what drives customers to their specific stores, and use this information to increase customer loyalty. “A 30% discount on three vegetable items increased our total customer count by 10%, and total sales by 10%.”
- Gather customer information and shopping habits within LS Central loyalty module, and use this to inform decision making.
- Decide what products to purchase and at which price to sell, to maximize profitability and shorten the business cycle. This functionality has been very beneficial for the company, helping them adapt to the Lebanese currency hyperinflation.
The future is bright for UCCM as they have already started their own eCommerce project, by creating an independent omni-channel department. This department has as its goal to deliver any fast-moving consumer goods product to anyone in Lebanon under 30 minutes at the cheapest price. Geared with LS Central, LS eCommerce and Magento, UCCM believes that they have a state-of-the-art solution that will support them in the years to come.
LS Central provided us with a robust POS, agility, and easily deployed back office, while Power BI gave us quick and insightful analytics. Most implementations fail on upgrades, but with the extension concept of Microsoft Dynamics 365, we don't have to worry about upgrades anymore.Ziad Daher, IT & Business Development Director, UCCM