Specialist kitchenware retailer Steamer Trading began life in 1985 on Alfriston High Street in Sussex and today the company operates 27 stores across the South of England in cherished high street locations and each with its own very distinctive character.
As interest in healthy, home cooking fuels the desire for quality kitchenware, so Steamer Trading expands, with two new stores and a transactional website added in 2012 and a further five stores in progress for 2013. Despite the very challenging economic backdrop, the company is on target to double in size within five years.
Expansion requires confidence and, for Steamer's management team, that also means having the right systems in place so they can focus on keeping overheads down and the range quality up.
The quality of management information, accuracy of stock control and the ease of use of the POS system continue to be important factors for the company. But, helping to maintain low overheads is also crucial – and Futura has enabled them to grow without having to multiply head office resources. "During a period of 12 new store openings we've only needed to add two staff members at head office," confirms Ben Phillips.
Store rollout is straightforward. Using sales information history, the team judges stock requirements based on the size and profile of the new store, compared to the allocation profile of an existing one. Then using Futura sales data, Merchandising managers determine which core stock items will perform best and the presentation quantities needed to place in store and on the shelves. The team can copy across optimum stock levels and, using Futura's recommended reordering functionality, replenish stores as soon as they reach their minimum stock requirement on any one of 10,000 current SKUs.
Steamer carries a high number of stock lines and Futura also manages their warehouse stock, while seamlessly integrating with the POS. The new link between Futura and the online store easily integrates stock allocations to satisfy web orders from store and gives excellent visibility of current stock levels.
With plans to invest in Futura's business intelligence system Analyser, to improve management information and reporting, and to link Futura directly to the accounts system to provide further efficiencies and control, Futura remains key to Steamer's continuing success.
Steamer has used Futura's retail management and EPOS solution at its headquarters in Lewes since 2001, and from just four stores the system has grown with them. "Futura has proven extremely reliable and stable and has easily adapted to our needs as we expand," explains Steamer Trading's Managing Director, Ben Phillips.
"Futura's point of sale does exactly what you want it to do, it's reliable, quick and it works. Often it's the straightforward things that are underestimated. For us the fact that Futura works well for cashing up, managing stock and transferring stock, and that it does all this beautifully means it's a great system to use," Ben Phillips concluded.