AutoZone (NYSE:AZO) is the nation's leading retailer and distributor of automotive parts and accessories with more than 4,000 stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Each store carries an extensive line of new and remanufactured hard parts, maintenance items and accessories for cars, sport utility vehicles, vans and light trucks.
AutoZone's communications environment needed a significant overhaul in 2004. Nice-to-know information competed equally with need-to-know tasks. Non- management store employees received an average of 30-40 e-mail messages a week, while management received 20-30% more. Of these messages, only about 10-15% required specific actions.
Policies and procedures were available electronically and were printed and filed haphazardly. There was no way to centrally track whether a policy had been reviewed and understood by employees. Training materials were disconnected from training certifications with a high potential for pencil-whipping to occur. Determining one's benefits standing required a phone call during headquarters' office hours when stores were busiest.
Management reporting arrived via e-mail, through electronic file folders, in the mail and through a custom-built, unsupported .html environment. It was clear that a single source for all store information and tasks was needed and that it had to be easy to use, available on demand 24x7, and easy to maintain without significant it resources. In addition, the software had to be thin enough to run on neoware thin clients, which were installed in every store. The first thins had just 233 MB of memory and no hard drive. Later systems were larger, but continued to operate without hard drives with older versions of flash installed.
The AutoZone Store Communications team partnered with a small IT web development team to find a store intranet solution that could be initiated by IT and administered by Store Communications. There was also considerable interest in finding a scalable solution that could eventually be used throughout the company. Given the hardware limitations that existed then and which continue today, very few appropriate solutions were available to choose from – most required significant overhead to run and significant it or consulting oversight.
After looking at several possibilities, the team chose the Liferay Portal for its flexibility, ease of use and scalability. Liferay Portal met all of the team's requirements and, from the first installation, performed exactly as intended. In fact, the solution exceeded the company's performance expectations in its ease of administration, straightforward approach to content creation and management, and in the flexibility of authoring and design within the portal templates. The numerous portlets included with Liferay make content and style changes easy and fast, a real benefit in keeping information fresh and interesting in a fast-moving retail environment.
Today, Daily Online Communications (DOC) is a one-stop communications shop for AutoZone's 47,000 store employees. Built using the Liferay Portal, DOC has become the one place AutoZoners go to find what they need to know about their weekly tasks, benefits, and training. DOC is also management's single source for all business reporting. Now positioned for development as AutoZone's enterprise portal, DOC is streamlining communications, enabling company-wide task management and linking AutoZone's diverse employee base together in a common community, further strengthening the company's unique business culture.