Lush enjoys a successful festive period in its first Christmas with Itim's Retail Suite

Lush, the fresh hand-made cosmetic retailer, with 702 stores worldwide, has implemented Retail Suite from Itim, provider of retail systems, across its UK Retail estate, which has helped to increase sales transaction speeds in its stores, to improve reporting, and to provide a single view of sales and store performance.

Sarah Turner, Systems Accountant at Lush, managed the complete project. She said, "Retail Suite has made the life of our store staff so much easier, especially the store managers.  With the help of our B.I. tool we can feedback automatically to them what they've taken, via a weekly cash sheet, which also reconciles other activities such as petty cash.  It also automates our gift voucher reports, which saves a huge amount of time."
Retail Suite is a web based multi-channel solution and was adopted by Lush in July this year. Lush has worked with Itim since 2003.  During this time Lush has expanded worldwide, with stores in Europe, Asia and the Far East.  As a successful growing business, Lush needs to ensure its retail systems have the capability and flexibility to support future growth. This solution for the UK gives them reliable details of store trading, a single view of each product, and its performance across stores.
"Our old EPOS system only provided very basic information, and limited capability for sales analysis.  In some cases, sales didn't make it onto our head office system, and the only way we could record and track sales was via handwritten records." Turner said.
Turner continued, "We looked at a number of solution providers, and after evaluating all the systems available, it became clear that we needed a system that wasn't overly complicated, but had the functionality to support our requirements for example, we sell some of our products by weight, so we needed the system to be configured to suit us.  We saw what Itim had to offer in March and were impressed.  As we had a good working relationship with them, it made perfect sense to select their Retail Suite."
The solution was piloted to selected stores in mid-July, with the full roll out in August.
"We needed to have the systems in place, with all our staff fully up to speed, in plenty of time for our peak Christmas trading.  It went brilliantly, and the solution is so easy to use that our store staff picked it up immediately," said Turner. "It was business critical that the system was bedded down in time, and we were really confident that as we hit the Christmas frenzy we'd be fine.  With like for like sales up on last year we've been really positive in our peak trading period."
Sales data can now be accessed and analysed instantly by head offices as well as being fed back to the stores. Store staff can also now see daily store by store league tables and daily product reports which have been tailored specifically to them.  The information from Retail Suite integrates with Lush's BI tool, which also allows shrinkage to be analysed.
"Retail Suite has already freed up store management time spent manually preparing and adding up daily and weekly sales reporting information, and in head office, time spent keying in data is now spent anaysing the results .  Our stores teams are there to engage with customers and to give lovely customer service.  We've been able to take away much of the paper work, and let them do what they're best at serving our customers.  The Itim team were great to work with throughout the project, providing a solution to all our challenges, for example, integrating our card payments system.  Previously our PDQ system was stand alone and pretty slow.  Now it's interfaced with the till, processing time has been cut down, and also errors have been cut out, as before the integration, the sales data was having to be doubled keyed into the epos and PDQ machine," said Turner.
Itim integrated a point-to-point encrypted payment solution for Lush that encrypts card details at the card reader only to be decrypted at a secure data centre, making the system reliable and secure, easing PCI DSS compliance.
As well as improving store performance, Lush now has reliable data available to enable it to make informed business decisions.  Before implementing Retail Suite, the sales data was unreliable.  Data is now delivered to head office in real time, and is scrutinised for any potential problems before being released for review.  Lush can see store by store how its tills are running, and if there are any communication failures these can be rectified quickly and easily.  "We can manage our stock much more efficiently, as since the system was implemented we have been able to fully integrate our Retail and Manufacturing systems," Turner said.
Ali Athar, Chief Executive Officer, Itim, said, "Everyone knows that Christmas is a business critical trading period for retailers.  Lush trusted us to deliver a trading platform that would ensure they were fully prepared to make the most of this key time, and the fact that they are already seeing the benefits so early on in the project is fantastic."

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