New QuickAssortment for specialty retailers

Retailers seeking alternatives to high-cost, highly complex assortment management softwareand never-ending implementationsnow have an alternative with the release of QuickAssortment by Maple Lake Ltd.

The software gives specialty retailers an affordable, powerful assortment management approach that maximises merchandising by locality and identifies potential gaps in product lines and how to make more money by sourcing  additional products

(Open to Buy).
Research shows that many retailers have implementedor tried to implementan assortment management solution, and faced disappointment, if not total failure, said Stuart Aldridge, Maple Lake Ltd. chief executive officer.  Our approach is to make assortment management as easy as using Microsoft Excel. QuickAssortment is that easy and familiarbuilt for retailers, built by retailers. QuickAssortment is ideal for retailers looking to localise their customer assortments, maximise Open To Buy strategies and generate highly refined what-if scenarios. The software gives planners, merchandisers, buyers and others in the supply chain a sophisticated yet easy-to-use planning tool that accelerates and automates planning processes, said Aldridge.

It enables retailers to create a collaborative planning environment that balances strategic goals, store plans, merchandise plans, individual item strengths and more, he said. QuickAssortment is designed to create a structured, focused planning process that delivers efficiencies and value. For Lisa Pisano, senior vice president of planning and merchandising at Steve Madden, a leading designer and marketer of fashion footwear and accessories for women, men and children, QuickAssortment has helped the specialty retailer go from assortment management that was antiquated and decentralised to being sophisticated, localised and streamlined.

"We're a trendy, entrepreneurial retailer that required a planning approach that took us from sharing Excel spreadsheets and PDFs to something more powerful and sophisticated, said Pisano. QuickAssortment is both of these without overwhelming users with too many functions, features or complicated steps. It was extremely important to keep it simple and to not intimidate all the different types of users among our 91-plus stores."

Pisano and her team of planners and buyers began using the merchant store  planning features of QuickAssortment. Pisano and team went live with  QuickAssortment within three months.

We are now introducing QuickAssortment among our team of planners and  buyers, and are beginning the initial phase of Maple Lakes QuickAllocation  and QuickAnalytics software. This combination is streamlining the information so that its available, accessible and really useable, said Pisano.

QuickAssortment features:
Assortment Planning. Planners may construct assortments from the bottom up and within a target framework. They may reconcile their plans to higher-level merchandise plans and enable various planning scenarios. It also allows a significant number of product attributes for more detailed analysis per assortment.

Store Clustering. This helps planners group their stores together into groups or clusters, and build assortments in these groups. Planners may also optimise ideal assortment width and depth goals to ensure the optimal number and quantity of styles is bought, per level.

Merchandise Planning. This helps planners construct product-focused plans at a high level to ensure the overall commercial direction of the business is being directed into key product areas. It also includes in-season re-forecasting and Open To Buy capabilities required for weekly management.

Detailed Product and Store Planning. This helps planners optimize store mixes for their individual product areas and assesses whether merchandise plans can be delivered from participating stores. These functions also integrate with store plans, and ensure that total detailed plans do not exceed the total store plan.

Key Item Planning. Planners manage specifics of weekly sales, inventory, receipts and Open-To-Buy positions for individual items, including  optimising inbound receipt flow and in-season re-forecasting. Allocation. Retailers must execute their company vision, and balance their  customer vision with fiscal responsibility. Allocation features help retailers maximise store-level opportunities while minimising expenditures. Technically, QuickAssortment operates on a Microsoft SQL server platform and resides at a retailers corporate site.

QuickAssortment operates within a client-server architecture, with data being managed on the server to optimise performance and scalability. Its thin-client nature minimises impact on network bandwidth since only the current window of data is retrieved from the server to desktops.  The client side of the application manages navigation, data presentation and data entry. QuickAssortment imports, exports and maps data from standard data sources using ActiveX Data Object or Open Database Connectivity (flat files, Excel, Access, SQL, Oracle, comma separated, etc.), and includes a flexible, structured Import Wizard.

About Maple Lake Ltd.
Maple Lake Ltd. is a software and services provider for specialty retailers across Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Australia. The company offers QuickAssortment, QuickAllocation and QuickAnalytics, a set of applications that refines assortment management, allocation planning and Open To Buy efforts for maximum sales and profitability. The companys customers represent more than 10,000 retail locations, and include retailers such as Aeropostale, Arcadia Group and Barneys New York. Maple Lake.

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