Running a toy retailing business is anything but child's play, as Toys N Tuck can confirm. This is a fiercely competitive market and success relies on stock visibility, efficiency and the ability to respond quickly to ever-changing demand. The company has all this and more, thanks to StoreVision, the retail management solution from Sanderson.
Toys N Tuck couldn't be further removed from the huge, faceless toy warehouses seen in industrial parks today. This company prides itself on being close to its customers and on being the local toy specialist. It was established in 1993 by Alan Dadswell, founder and managing director. He spotted an opportunity in the local area for a high street toy retailer, something that many towns lack. This approach proved successful and Toys N Tuck now boasts four retail stores and one warehouse; all based in Essex where it was founded originally.
Employees number 40, many of whom are part-time, and turnover is 1.5 million. "Our differentiator has to be service," says Dadswell. "We are competitively priced, although we can never be the cheapest supplier. But what we can be is the best specialist local toy retailer." Toys N Tuck sells through the stores and via its website, though the nature of its offer means face-to-face retail is the main revenue stream. It has a huge number of product lines and that number is changing continuously. "We offer around 3,500 products on the website and double that in the stores," says Dadswell.
"Our product set changes frequently a third of the lines are obsolete within a year so we face many challenges as a business. This is an extremely fast-moving market. In fact, toys are more fashionable than fashion." The company became a Sanderson customer shortly after it was established. Having first implemented the Charm solution, the company has subsequently upgraded to StoreVision, a leading retail management solution, which not only offers fast and efficient EPoS but also specialist retail reporting upon which Toys N Tuck have come to rely. The trigger to upgrade its systems was the relocation of one of the stores. "We were moving one of the stores to a larger unit, which meant we needed extra tills," recalls Dadswell. "This was the ideal opportunity to assess the business operation and how it had changed since we started. We decided to upgrade the entire system to StoreVision to take advantage of the new technology."
Upgrading to a solution from the same supplier has several benefits. First the Sanderson team already understands how Toys N Tuck operate and what its business needs are. Secondly, the existing relationship is strengthened even further; "We have certainly benefited from that close involvement. I'm sure a company our size wouldn't have that level of influence if we were with another software provider." Last year, Toys N Tuck upgraded to the latest version of StoreVision - and the business has enjoyed numerous benefits as a result. "The system took a huge leap forwards; it is extremely user friendly and the reporting capability has extended dramatically," says Dadswell.
If a supplier is visiting Toys N Tuck, for example, Dadswell needs to be able to access sales data for that particular supplier's ranges. "I want one report that shows me how many items I've sold for a given period and how many I have left in stock, so that I can order the right quantity," he says. Flexibility is crucial, since different suppliers deliver at different frequencies. Initially, this information came from two reports: one for sales and another for stock. But having raised the issue with Sanderson, the company swiftly developed additional reporting functionality and now the data is available in one report.
Communication has improved greatly, between all the stores and from store to warehouse. With the ability to review stock levels for all stores and the warehouse on the EPoS, stock queries can be resolved immediately, without the need to call around each site. "One of the great benefits of this system is the visibility it provides across my organisation," says Dadswell. "I can log in via the main server to any of the stores, so I can access crucial information or provide crucial information to store staff at any time. Having every location linked to all the others works so well and has made a huge difference in terms of how easily we communicate." Real-time stock visibility not only improves efficiency for Toys N Tuck, but also enables faster response and better service for its customers. "We can pinpoint information to answer customer queries straight away: it's easier for the staff and means they provide a better service." With visibility comes the confidence in stock accuracy and, in turn, sales data accuracy.
Dadswell has some sound advice for others: "Decide what you want from the system that will determine what you put into it. Having planned this properly at the outset, I know that I can now drill down into data by supplier, by store, by department within that store, by a time period... whatever parameters I require. You must prepare properly if you really want to gain the maximum value from the extensive data the system can offer." The new-found confidence in this data is enabling Toys N Tuck to make better decisions more quickly which is crucial in such a fastmoving sector. "The scope and range of reports is fantastic, and it is highly flexible. I can see exactly which areas of a store are producing the most profit. There is so much useful functionality that it goes beyond what we require now, but knowing we can tap into that in future is very important to us." Indeed, StoreVision enables Toys N Tuck to react quickly to demand, spot trends and ensure purchase ordering mirrors that demand. "We are able to maximise the use of cash flow and direct it to the right areas," confirms Dadswell.
"The toy industry is quite different to other retail sectors because you have to order so far in advance, but with StoreVision we know we have the control we need. We have all the critical data to hand." Toys N Tuck is confident that its longstanding relationship with Sanderson will continue for many years to come. "The team at Sanderson work well with us; they understand our business and they are responsive. Both the company and the system will support our organisation long into the future," he concludes.