Real-time visibility of management information and 40% productivity gains support success of growing Cornish retail fashion brand
As the brand of Seasalt has developed, so too has its reliance on strong inventory control, all round stock visibility and real time management information.
The successful lifestyle retailer and Cornish clothing company is expanding, recently opening its sixteenth shop in Chichester. The brand, which opened its first store in Penzance in 1981, has 15 other shops across the South West, including Guernsey and the Isles of Scilly, offering its distinctive Cornish products online and through 350 outlets around the UK.
The management team recognised early on they needed a reliable system to grow with them, so switched to Futura’s retail management system in 1999 for its first two stores. Providing a true picture of whether stock is in the right place at the right time, all in real time, was a primary consideration for migrating from their original cash register-based system.
Today Seasalt also uses the electronic point-of-sale (EPoS) system from Futura to provide managers with current sales data from its stores, web, head office and the warehouse. Real-time visibility means the team can examine sales, understand which lines are moving and react rapidly with preventive action on slow moving items. Accumulated sales history provides opportunities for in-depth analysis to predict trends and seasonal demand, making planning turnover levels for new stores reliably accurate.
Reliable sales and inventory data
“One of the things we value most about Futura is its reliability – it has been extremely reliable, you never get corrupt data, it’s totally stable, unlike other systems we have heard about or looked at," said Adrian Green, Seasalt head of financial planning and analysis.
Stuart Backhouse, Seasalt information systems (IS) manager, added: “The automatic replenishment facility in Futura is especially important to us, to get optimal stock levels in store and meet demand from our online sales, now 25% of the business and expanding fast. We set minimum target stock levels, based on store performance and sales data, within the system, which runs automatically twice a week for stores and four times per week for the web.”
The system recommends movements to optimise stock holding in the virtual stock rooms utilised to manage the multichannel business. Automating this process has also freed up management time, while long-time reliability has inspired confidence.
Harnessing management information
Integrating Futura with Seasalt’s warehouse system also delivered significant time savings and greater accuracy, as well as giving a complete picture of the business. As orders generated in Futura’s customer order module are organised by stock location, picking lists are laid out in geographic sequence and, for warehouse staff walking the aisles, this has seen productivity gains in the region of 40%.
Accurate information drives performance, so the team uses Futura to generate a wide variety of reports to understand and interpret store data, with metrics to compare and share best practice. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are also used to measure success and drive improvements such as average units per transaction and average receipt value.
Futura4Analysis, an additional data-mining module, enhances the core Futura reporting by providing more in-depth management information. For example, the team proactively uses the returns report, which provides supplier breakdowns with quantities, product group, item level and reasons. Reports that show late orders received can help improve customer service, as staff can see which customers may be affected by late deliveries into the warehouse, to make alternative delivery and/or collection arrangements.
The team now have their eyes on Futura’s points-based loyalty card system, which they believe will drive further customer satisfaction with options for more focussed promotions and customer analysis.