Maple Lake, the retail software vendor with clients including Levis, adidas, Forever 21 and Donna Karan, has recently launched the latest, enhanced version of its QuickAssortment merchandise planning solution. The new release follows a successful project with a leading Swedish retailer, as well as other implementations already underway at Aeropostale and rue21 in the US.
Maple Lake says that its new software has been developed as a result of increasing demand among retailers for specialized IT systems that cope not just with identifying best-selling lines across store operations, but also with planning profitable ranges for other trading channels, including online, wholesale and international operations.
"With the impact of the economic downturn and extremely tough competition on the high street, retailers are increasingly looking towards developing their assortment planning capabilities across all channels," says Bob Jolley, group commercial director, Maple Lake. "There's also far greater emphasis on maintaining profitability with tight cost controls, efficient inventory management and a growing need for financial analysis these days."
New features and enhancements to the QuickAssortment solution include: greater ease in purchasing and buying processes, by integrating the planned quantities of goods to buy into any existing Purchase Order requirements; the inclusion of range visualization tools offers improved visibility and consistency of information, at an individual or store level, at least six months before orders are raised; more localized, channel focused assortments, with 'store clustering' being extended to include 'channel clustering' (in other words, looking at exactly what products should be allocated to individual sales outlets, whether regionally, internationally, online, or even allocating merchandise according to weather patterns and local preferences).
Benefits of using QuickAssortment include: increased speed, consistency, accuracy and clarity of decision making; the ability to build localized ranges of assortments quickly and profitably; exposing any financial risk in range planning, by, for instance, flagging up early on any potential problems such as too much stock coming from too few far-flung suppliers.
The software has been developed after relocating all of Maple Lake's global product development to new offices based in Leicester, UK, following 100% growth in annual sales and the signing of a number of large international software contracts. The company claims that its sophisticated QuickAssortment planning solution is sufficiently comprehensive for larger retailers, whilst maintaining the 'ease-of-use' that's required of smaller businesses. The system can be integrated to any client's host system, yet is also highly configurable to the individual needs of the customer.
"Many retailers still use Excel spreadsheets for merchandise planning, so we're finding that buyers, senior management and merchandisers all like the look and feel of familiar Microsoft Office based tools," says Jolley. "And everyone wants easy-to-use, visually-led IT solutions that still focus on the all-important numbers and bottom-line sales results."
A new regional pricing model and other new features are being added to the next release, scheduled for December 2011.