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A tale of two Epos systems (3)
Software expert Michael Bloom, of specialist stock management company Top to Toe, on Epos.



10 January 2013

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.

PART THREE.

MR LEAP’S STORY - Mr Leap is aware that business on the internet is growing at over 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 quickly started his website; but since he could not keep his web site stock records accurate manually, he found that people were buying items from his website that had sold out. So just as quickly he found that he was alienating web clients and losing money.

As a consequence Mr Leap swung into action and bought a stock system that tracked stock. But since each size/colour was a separate product it did not always display sizes and colours in a matrix, just long lists of separate items for each size and colour.

The reverse was also true. What he often needed was a ‘one-liner’ per product which ‘ignored’ the many size/colour variations and summarised each product’s sizes and colours as part of one product; on one line per complete product across the screen. What he got instead was a long list of every size and colour in a product; where each separate line across the screen was for just one size and colour.

What could have been just a few minutes’ work, assessing stock in a matrix format, was taking him hours instead.

This problem was compounded by his sales information. It was all there in his system but web and retail system sales were combined, whereas he needed to see the performance of each separately. So in addition to all his other jobs he had to manually separate out his web sales from his retail sales - yet more work!

The overall result of all this effort was that he could keep his website up to date but only with many,
many hours of work that he would have avoided if his system had been better designed to meet his needs.

As time wore on, however, Mr Leap realised the situation was worse than it first appeared. He had some limited access to a matrix for product stock but this matrix presentation was still more restricted for sales and order information.

Even though all the sales size and colour information was right in front of him it was nearly impossible to assess, since it was not matrix based. Sales that took three seconds to evaluate when presented as a matrix took more than three minutes to evaluate when presented as a list. Comparing retail sales to web sales was a nightmare.

So each day Mr Leap did battle with his system. When he thought he could ‘risk it’ he just used the report that showed him his stock matrix. If he needed sales or order information then he went a-leaping – finding one individual size and colour then leaping to the next, finding the next size and colour and then leaping again.

So Mr Leap spent much of his day moving from screen to screen to screen around his system. He had a working website but no real overview of his business and no real way of managing it. He worked a great deal harder and made just a little bit more money.

MR LOOK’S STORY - Mr Look is aware that business on the internet is growing at over 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.

Before launching his website Mr Look thought ahead and installed a stock management system where each product could be viewed in two ways; as a product overall and also as a grid of its sizes and colours.

Where a product came in 10 sizes and four colours he avoided seeing a list of 40 separate product records. When Mr Look wished to assess a product quickly he could see a quick ‘one-liner’ per product, showing totals for all of its stock, sales, orders – the combined result for all its sizes and colours. Where he needed more detail he could see a size/colour grid for stock, a grid for the sales and a grid for the orders.

If required he could see all of these on the same screen. When he wanted to check his web sales separately to his retail sales these too would appear instantly in a grid format. Where he wanted to compare shop sales to web sales there was no problem – another grid appeared showing both.

Mr Look could plan his business; get one-liners product by product when needed for Nike but just as easily review his outstanding orders with Reebok by size and colour grid. He could check his Reebok sales in a size/colour matrix and then get a quick report of one-liners to compare his best and worst selling football boots product by product. Where he found a problem he could get an instant size and colour grid. When he needed more detail he could see grids for each outlet as well as for stock, sales and orders.

Armed with the right system Mr Look could assess merchandise and plan ahead. With fast and precise information at product and size/colour level Mr Look could use his shop and website strategically – slow moving products could be immediately promoted on the internet; fast selling products kept for shop sales.

With time, however, Mr Look came to see that the world was a big place and different parts of it – as well as different parts of the web - could be used for different purposes. With the right stock management system in place Mr Look could use his time for real business development; fine tune his buying and his sales, responding quickly to changing retail patterns.

He had greater buying power, greater control and significantly greater profits... and so began his experiments with pricing, Ebay and Amazon.

 
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