A tale of two Epos systems (2)
Software expert Michael Bloom, of specialist stock management company Top to Toe, on Epos.
30 November 2012
Michael Bloom of Top To Toe, a specialist stock management company for the sportswear trade, looks at the difference technology can make to how you run your day to day business.
MR LEAP'S STORY: Mr Leap is aware that business on the internet is growing at more than 30 per cent a year. As he has the stock available in his shop it makes sense to create a website and increase his profitability.
Mr Leap launched himself into his web project and started his website immediately. Although all went well at first, he soon found his web clients were buying items he did not actually have in stock.
Manually updating his website took hours and his urgent, frequent, stock checks were just not frequent enough. He was alienating as many clients as he was winning, plus he had to undertake the somewhat painful work of refunding money. Mr Leap realised his workload had increased far more than his profit. After three months he suspended manual input to his website and reconsidered what he had learned.
Mr Leap comes to realise he definitely needs a stock management system, so he asks around and quickly finds a system into which he can enter all his stock. He immediately embarked upon a frantic round of stock data entry prior to the next season commencing – it takes hours and hours ... and hours. Mr Leap however is a determined man and eventually every size and colour, for every style, is entered and barcode labelled. At the press of a button all his stock data is exported to the internet.
Almost immediately it becomes obvious he has a problem – his system has information on every size and colour, but as separate items. If he wants to assess a style overall (one with say 10 sizes and four colours) his stock system presents him with a list of 40 different, separate products.
Just to get a total stock and value count for a style he has to visit all 40 separate size/colour products and add them together. If he wants to order more of a style or receive in a delivery he has to visit each of the 40 products separately. Likewise, to assess the stock for five or six styles he has to look through more than 200 individual record cards. Any one style has so many size/colour combinations it is spread across two or three screens of his system.
A hundred styles could easily have a combination of more than 4000 record cards. To review these takes many, many screens and in the course of a year adds days and days of work he had never anticipated. When he wants to assess sales it takes yet more hours. He begins to understand what it is that makes a system specialist for the sports trade.
Mr Leap finds his life revolving around one or two cumbersome and limited fixed-format grid reports, when what he needs is instantaneous and adaptable on-screen stock, sales and order grids per style. He has to wade through lengthy reports to get what he needs plus, as more styles are added, these reports start to take longer and longer to generate.
Unfortunately there aren’t enough hours in the day to get the information he needs; information that would make him additional profit. ‘There has to be a better way’ is a thought that frequently crosses his mind. It’s all been loads of work and he doesn’t dare think about starting all over again when the new season’s stock arrives.
MR LOOK'S STORY: Mr Look is aware that business on the internet is growing at more than 30 per cent a year. As he has the stock available in his shop it makes sense to create a website and increase his profitability.
Mr Look realised it’s far harder to keep a website running than it is to initially build it. Mr Look therefore reviewed a number of systems and opted to install a specialist sports stock management system - where each style contains within itself all of its sizes and colour combinations.
In doing so he avoided a situation where every size and colour combination is a completely separate product (ie if a product has 10 sizes and four colours then this might only be available as 40 separate stock records). With flexible, intuitive, matrixes available instantly throughout his system Mr Look can quickly and easily enter and review size/colour within a style or across styles – all are automatically fed to his increasingly busy website.
For Mr Look, placing orders into his system takes just 30 to 60 seconds per style, including all their sizes and colours. When stock for a style on order arrives, in part or in full, Mr Look simply goes to the style and is presented with a grid of all the size/colour combinations – it takes him just seconds to enter the new sizes and colours that have arrived. Where needed, bar-coded labels are automatically produced. Mr Look does not need to visit each of the 40 products separately; unlike Mr Leap his size/colours are all within a single style.
Critically, this ability to undertake everything in one action via a matrix, compared to Mr Leap’s 40 separate actions, is available throughout Mr Look’s system. Whether he wants to create an order or transfer stock to another shop/storage area, or review sales, or set optimum stock levels that automatically monitor when stock is low, or to review stock availability at a till it’s all undertaken in just one action, not 40 separate ones.
When Mr Look needs to review a particular section of his merchandise he does not have to wade through pages of screen information where every style appears 40 times, ie once for each size/colour combination. At the touch of a button he can focus on just the styles and/or sizes and colours he needs – reviewing orders, stock and sales positions instantly on screen is therefore very quick.
He can now really manage the business, see what is and what is not selling - and he uses this information to make more profit. His forward orders are better, his shop and his web customers are more likely to be satisfied.
Reviewing his experience Mr Look can see much drudgery has been reduced or eliminated. He is now using his time for real business management; making his overall business perform better. As the new season approaches he anticipates another increase in his web turnover and profit.
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