The need for integration
Integration between store and back office operations is a challenge faced by many retailers, and, in my experience, seems to be particularly an issue in specialty. In meeting with speciality retailers, they often share their frustrations at some of the manual and time consuming processes they have to go through because they don’t have full integration between their back office systems such as warehousing and finance, and the front of store point of sale. They have a strong focus on getting the right range of stock, on knowledgeable staff and on offering the advice and information that customers expect of a specialty store.
But, from what they tell me, they don’t necessarily have the same level of focus on the back end systems, and in particular on the integration of sales systems with financial and operational data. The real downside of this is that they cannot tie the two sets of data together and they lack visibility of some important business indicators – indicators that could help build strategies for further growth and for streamlining and reducing costs.
Sharing the story of Laksala
Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way, and one of my favourite stories to share with retailers who are in this position is that of Laksala, one of iVend’s customers, who have successfully built a fully integrated system and who are reaping the benefits.
To give you the background, Laksala is a gift and souvenir boutique operated by the Sri Lankan government. Their aim is to promote and bring to market locally produced items, from tea & spices to colourful batik-ware, to art and craft, to gems and jewellery, helping the craftspeople who supply them to develop their businesses, but also to become a profit-making business in its own right.
The Laksala offer has resonated with tourists visiting Sri Lanka and the operation has grown to 13 stores around the country.
But Laksala were facing several challenges, many of which could be traced back to the fact that their store systems were not integrated with their and operational systems. They had stand-alone retail, financial and warehousing systems, resulting in clunky manual processes, such as trial balances, and a complete lack of visibility across the network of stores. This severely impacted decision making and made it almost impossible to develop a sound growth and profitability strategy.
Taking a fresh approach
Laksala chose to implement iVend retail in their stores and SAP Business One for finance and operations, knowing that they could be fully and seamlessly integrated. They worked with business partner Pristine Solutions to build the new system.
The 8 benefits of integration
Laksala’s SAP Business One POS integration has been transformational – with full visibility across the organisation, of sales, stock and operational data they have:
- Retail store analytics reports and clear visibility of key business metrics for informed decision making
- Integrated sales and operational data for better planning and forecasting
- Information that allows them build effective pricing and promotion strategies
- The ability to automate processes to drive greater productivity
- Greater customer satisfaction from faster order processing
- Retail inventory software that delivers accurate stock information, leading to increased inventory turns and reduced inventory levels
- Overview of all stores in a single system and the ability to run key operations from head office
- A scalable system that will grow with the increasing success of their business
Laksala are delighted with the results of their new systems and happy for me to share their story to show just what can be done with a fully integrated approach. They believe that what they have achieved isn’t unique and that other specialty retailers could see similar results.