An EPoS and e-commerce solution from two technology companies specialising in apparel retail, LOIS Systems and J2 Retail Systems, is the subject of new investment by a Guernsey-based independent retailer.
Its two stores, Holeshot and HS2 - one selling surf equipment, casual clothing and accessories for men, women and children, the other a unisex young fashion business - have opted for new technology to drive their expansion.
As co-owner and managing director, Marc Maubec explains: "It's been our long-term ambition to trade online. We're well established and even in winter we have a good local following but, given our stock, our trade is largely seasonal. Tourists arrive in great numbers in the summer months especially on cruise ships, which is a growing business for the island. We had the Queen Elizabeth in last week with 3,000 passengers and 90 ships are scheduled to stop here this year! All this makes for lots of passing trade, which we welcome, but we have no means of keeping in touch and selling again to those customers."
The investment the business is now making will enable year-long customer contact to be maintained. "In the past ten years we've spent money expanding and improving our retail space, at the same time knowing that to move forward an online platform is essential to supplement local trade and keep in contact with seasonal clients when they're back at home."
The two stores are not new to EPoS as Marc observes. "Our previous system did the job but was getting dated. In particular, the hardware was slow and we were concerned about the future. When we saw the LOIS system, we knew this was the way forward and we opted for a complete software and hardware package."
The new solution of LOIS EPoS software running on J2 615 touchscreen terminals has now been installed in both stores. The LOIS system is cloud-based with its own online and offline browser, so is exceptionally resilient. The new J2 tills were built by LOIS with data pre-loaded. Once they were installed, Marc Maubec connected immediately to the cloud and his data came across from the old system with no need to re-barcode stock.
Explains Steve Waller, managing director of LOIS Systems: "99% of the reason that retailers choose LOIS is to dual manage an e-commerce system from their stores; with LOIS, you use only one system to administer stores and online transactions. Holeshot and HS2 will need to populate their product catalogue once only. Items will be posted online as soon as they're available and will disappear from the web site if they sell out instore."
Already the team capture customer data at the till point and can attach a label such as 'holidaymaker' to it, which makes it easy to do promotional targeting and analysis. It is now possible to identify someone coming into the shop, see there is a piece they didn't originally buy with an outfit and tell them that that piece is on sale today. "LOIS is going to be great for recording purchase history and analysing customers, which will support our loyalty programme and build sales. We've only been live for a couple of months and we're already starting to build up data that shows how the season is panning out."
Observes Marc: "The amount of reports LOIS can produce is impressive, all very customer-focused, fully automated and a class above what we had before. We're now going to be able to analyse our customers and measure the performance of individual stock lines. We hope the new system will make us a more profitable business, more streamlined and efficient."
Marc Maubec is impressed too by his ability to access data from each machine in each shop. "Wherever we are, we can see deliveries received, check on orders or access customer data." He also likes the fact that with LOIS there is no separate back office. Any member of staff with the right authority can perform head office functions such as stocktaking from any till at any time. Adds Steve Waller: "Stocktaking can be performed whilst the shop is open, including uploading a new stock file which overwrites existing stock and produces discrepancy report there and then. Holeshot and HS2 are going to find that very powerful."
Work has already started on Holeshot and HS2's new online store, which it is due to go live in the autumn. That's when the synergy between the web site and the till system will come into play.