Case study: Not a fashion victim

8 Aug 2005

A recent survey of UK retailers, carried out by consultancy Retail Assist, revealed that more than a third of respondents were unhappy with electronic point-of-sale (EPoS) systems, finding them too complicated and too expensive, hampering rather than helping productivity. Fortunately, this has not been the experience of Fionnuala Kenneally, proprietor of Therapy for Girls, a fashion outlet in Midleton, Cork.

“Our store needs to be able to respond quickly to changing trends in the market, so we need a very responsive supply chain to ensure we are delivering the latest merchandise our customers are seeking,” says Kenneally, determined not to become a fashion victim when it comes to running her business.

When it came to upgrading her stock management system, Kenneally went for a product called Top to Toe. Built-in ‘wizards’ and pull-down lists help configure the system to suit the business needs of the user, with data-filter facilities enabling the easy selection and categorisation of information. You can set minimum stocking levels and automate ordering and branch-to-branch transfers. Barcode labels can also be run off automatically and retail price calculations can be set using its auto-calculate facility.

Datapac implemented the system for Kenneally a year ago and she’s delighted with her investment. “My old system was more suited to accountants and was atrocious. Before I bought a new one I wanted to see what other shops were doing. One of them showed me Top to Toe and I was sold.”

With the system up and running she’s already enjoying what it can deliver. “The real benefits are the ease of use and its speed of response,” says Kenneally. “We are now making critical buying decisions based on full knowledge of our stock usage and sales”.

Therapy for Girls carries more than 5,000 stock items that include clothing, footwear, jewellery and cosmetics. Therapy has one till, which is linked to a back office Fujitsu Siemens laptop that Kenneally takes with her on buying trips inputting orders along the way. “The system also helps manage stock and we can check sizes, colours and identify what lines are slow and fast moving,” she says. “We are now more responsive to sales trends and can manage our stock to maximise the return on investment for the whole business”.

Daily sales, ‘lay by’ accounts for customers who put goods on deposit, sales reports and reports on brand performance are just some of the functions fed through the system. Kenneally also bought the stock take gun, which has made stock taking easier and faster than it used to be. “Inputting orders prior to delivery in store is simple,” she explains, “so all I have to do when it arrives is direct the stock in and print the barcodes”

The other big benefit is back up. “Datapac has been brilliant. I have broadband in the shop and if there’s problem it can log on to my laptop, take it over and sort it out on the spot. You never have to worry about being without the system, not even for an hour.”

Pictured were (from left) David Burke, retail consultant with Datapac, and Fionnuala Kenneally, proprietor, Therapy for Girls