James E. Lewis, Founder and CEO, Enhanced Retail SolutionsJames E. Lewis, Founder and CEO
In 2000, Walmart, one of the largest retailers, asked their suppliers to assist them in managing their retail business. The new initiative shocked the manufacturers as their core competency was not retail analytics but design and production. They started using spreadsheet-based tools to get insights on sales and inventory levels; however, they weren’t able to gain many insights because they didn’t know what questions to ask of the data. James Lewis, who was a buyer at JC Penney at the time, saw this as a new business opportunity, and in 2002 started Enhanced Retail Solutions (ERS) to help manufacturers think like retailers. Leveraging his fifteen years of retail experience, Lewis began by analyzing SKU-Store level data, asking different questions of the data to find opportunities, trends, and improve inventory productivity. A desktop software solution was created to speed up and organize the process. "I wrote the original software not for my consulting clients, but for me, and later, based on frequent requests from my clients, I decided to market it," says Lewis.

Over the last 2 years the same expertise has taken the form of an expert solution called RetailNarrative. It is taught to ask questions, know what is relevant and what is not, and then learn from that. As an AI-assisted system, it combs through retail sales and inventory data asking the questions veteran analysts would to present the user the most actionable information in a dashboard with a concise narrative explanation. “At ERS, we like to call AI “Augmented Intelligence”, because it augments the capability and intelligence of the user. The problem is that people with experience don’t have time, and people with time don’t have experience.” quips Lewis. RetailNarrative solves that problem.

At ERS, the team enables retailers, suppliers and licensors to improve sales and profit, reduce risk and optimize wholesale inventory and retail distribution.

At ERS, the team enables retailers, suppliers and licensors to improve sales and profit, reduce risks and costs, and optimize wholesale inventory and retail distribution

By combining the resources between retailers and manufacturers with data analysis and AI, ERS has created a dynamic network of information sharing from which all parties can benefit—with millions of dollars of added sales and profits.

Lewis always knew that technology alone could never be the problem solver. That's why the company's extensive service is not just limited to delivering a customized AI solution. ERS also acts as a counselor or strategist for retailers and manufacturers, enabling them to find opportunities in inventory planning, management, and sell through.

ERS’ team is a unique combination of industry experts, who have deep knowledge in both the retail industry as well as modern technology. Over the years, the company has been a valued partner to some of the leading retailers and manufacturers across the globe including Weatherproof, JCPenney, and iRobot. Drawing a complete picture of ERS' expertise in AI solutions for the retail landscape, Lewis recalls an instance when the firm assisted a billion-dollar women’s wear company in enhancing their analytics capabilities with advanced solutions as well as consulting. With ERS' expertise, the customer was able to perform their retail planning and analytics seamlessly and efficiently.

For over fifteen years, Enhanced Retail Solutions has been providing retailers, manufacturers, and licensors revolutionary tools to help them make more profitable decisions. In the long run, the company is laser-focused on developing a new technology that can collect data from both the retailers and manufacturers and run their intelligence engine for advanced analytics that enhances sales. The team also foresees room for expansion on the sourcing side of the business where the retailer designs their products and sources them across the world.