In this special edition of Supply Chain Matters This Week in Supply Chain Tech, we highlight two simultaneous announcements from supply chain planning and optimization software provider ToolsGroup.

One was the announced acquisition of the Mi9 Retail’s Demand Management business, which was branded as Just Enough Software.

The other was the closing of a significant added equity growth investment provided technology-focused investment firm, Accel-KKR.

We further share our initial perspectives related to the acquisition, for existing and prospective customers and for the specific supply chain planning tech landscape.


Acquisition Background

Mi9 Retail is a provider of a suite of Cloud based software applications directly focused on assisting top-tier retailers in end-to-end business process management and decision-making needs. This provider’s suite of applications addresses areas ranging from merchandise planning, demand and order management to point-of-sale, digital commerce and customer engagement needs.

In January of 2018, and after a stated extensive evaluation, Mi9 Retail acquired Just Enough Software, a retail centric demand management and planning provider focused on retail, wholesale and direct-to-consumer businesses. The goal of that acquisition was stated as adding “best-of-breed planning, allocations, and replenishment solutions to the Mi9 Retail platform of integrated, analytics-driven merchandising, store, and digital commerce solutions.”


About the ToolsGroup Acquisition

In a video, CEO Joseph Shamir indicated that Just Enough and its talented team focused on retail are a perfect complement to ToolsGroup with an overall goal to equip retailers with a 360-degree supply chain view that is real-time, predictive and actionable.

Supply Chain Matters had the opportunity to specifically speak with David Barton, General Manager of North America for ToolsGroup, regarding this acquisition.

Barton clarified that this acquisition specifically involves the former Just Enough software capabilities in supporting retail assortment and merchandise planning, along with inventory allocation. The latter includes capabilities in inventory planning needs to support both in-store and online customer fulfillment needs. In the area of revenue optimization, the software has the ability to support intra-day price changes predicated on customer demand volumes.

Barton acknowledged that an acquisition announcement is a first for ToolsGroup, but at the same time, supports a strategy of a buy decision vs. internal development. He added that the acquisition adds top-line revenue scale with ToolsGroup’s workforce expanding by one-third, and with the addition of expanded R&D development capabilities focused on retail industry enterprise planning.

There are also plans underway to provide added efforts in improving the user interface among Just Enough demand management and ToolsGroup’s suite of supply chain planning and analytics application.

In our interview, ToolsGroup declined to disclose the transactional details that made-up this acquisition.


Added Equity Investment

The Just Enough acquisition coincided with the closing of what is described as a significant growth investment received from investment firm Accel-KKR. This firm originally invested in ToolsGroup in 2018. In the announcement, Joe Porten, Principal, and Park Durrett, Managing Director of Accel-KKR collectively noted the growth of the customer base, the expansion of the ToolsGroup executive team and geographic footprint of this software provider during economic and challenging supply chain conditions provide a vote of confidence to opportunities that lie ahead.

Barton would not divulge a quantitative number related to the added equity investment but reinforced that the added investment was significant. Further acknowledged was that Accel-KKR provided financial assistance specifically related to the acquisition. The firm’s investment team further provided valuable assistance in the culling out of the specific technology components in what was described as an extremely complicated transaction.


Added Perspectives

From our Ferrari Consulting and Research Group lens, the combined announcement from ToolsGroup and its principal equity partner reinforce that supply chain planning, optimization and enhanced analytical decision-making support technology market needs are increasingly moving to support more integrated decision-making needs that encompass both supply chain planning and customer fulfillment processes. This especially concerns businesses focusing on omnichannel and direct-to-consumer market strategies. Both ERP focused and best-of-breed providers are increasingly moving in this direction.  An example is Kinaxis’s announced acquisition of Rubikloud Technologies in June 2020. This acquisition was described by senior management as the opportunity to bring enhanced demand planning and advanced AI/ML to power the market while moving more directly in supporting the retail industry sector of planning and response management.

The same could be somewhat stated for the ToolsGroup acquisition, and there is added consideration that this tech provider’s roots include specific support for detailed long-tail, line-item planning requirements that umbrella consumer product goods as well as retailers and wholesalers. There is the added dimension of a potential alliance collaboration with Mi9 Retail in joint go-to-market plans for specific dimensions of retail.

For existing customers of the Just Enough retail demand management software component of Mi9 Retail, efforts are reportedly underway for finalizing a joint services agreement going forward. Asked if any decisions have been made regarding adding a specific ToolsGroup branding, we were informed that added time will be needed to assess whether that is appropriate.

We do not view this acquisition as that of customer acquisition but rather a component of a broader industry support capability that is complementary to market needs.

We can state that Just Enough users should take comfort that ToolsGroup will remain focused to its customer centricity success roots, and the tech provider’s tendencies toward deep understanding of industry specific business process and decision-making needs.


Bob Ferrari

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