Expanding fashion brand Cath Kidston, which recently bought its Japanese franchise business of 27 stores back from Sanei International, has consolidated its Japanese retail network utilising Futura's multi-lingual global EPOS solution.
Implementing new systems and hardware overnight, to ensure business continuity and uninterrupted trading for Japanese customers, was a key requirement for the UK-based management team. Futura4POS was selected because it provides an advanced real-time, multi-lingual, hardware independent retail environment, with the ability to roll out and update from Cath Kidston offices in the UK, in turn limiting the requirement for significant in-country overheads.
Working with Futura Retail Solutions, the UK management team developed a complete in store retail model with a Japanese front end, including a fully translated product catalogue, integration with new third-party warehousing and logistics, CRM and Loyalty Rewards, all prior to the transition date.
Cath Kidston IT Director Karl de Bruijn explains: "Futura allows us to develop a full retail model to meet in country requirements and then scale up to what is a significant retail presence. Business continuity of course was crucial and we have been able to go from a standing start to 27 stores, all mastered centrally, with minimal support on the ground. The ability to roll out and update from a central point was paramount. All we needed in store was to plug in the tills. Futura could then connect remotely to install the system overnight and next day we were operating pretty much as normal."
Importantly, this is not a standalone installation, it links back to Cath Kidston's Futura-based head office systems in the UK for daily retail management tasks including allocations and merchandising, all live in real time. Updates from the UK flow down to each store with a Japanese front end. With limited training opportunities prior to the 'go live' date, the team could also run daily update releases, based on feedback in store and cultural requirements, to accommodate any issues that cropped up as staff familiarised themselves with the new system.
Cath Kidston will also operate a real time loyalty reward system, mastered in Futura. To accommodate nuances in the Japanese language, which uses multiple character sets, and the potential difficulties of inputting customer details at the till, the system integrates with a third party web application which allows customers to pick up their loyalty card in store and then go online to complete their details. Development work is completed and system will go live shortly.
Another crucial stage at the 'go live' date was to have immediate visibility for sales and performance data so the UK management team could see what stock was available, how stores were performing and whether they needed support, all in Japanese time. Data was needed here almost immediately.
"The system is truly global allowing us to master all products and language updates and the like from the UK, including promotions, price changes, and vice versa. In effect the business in Japan is half the size of our UK real estate but only requires some 10% of the resourcing, which means we aren't significantly increasing our overheads. The key is that it is a fully integrated global EPOS set up. Changes we make at head office feed straight through to each store," de Bruijn added.
Cath Kidston has used the Futura EPOS and retail management solution in the UK since 2001 and first deployed Futura4POS, Futura's 4th generation retail platform to stores in China during 2013. The addition of Japan brings the total number of stores using Futura4POS to 35 all linked in real time to the company's back office systems in the UK.
Designed for lifestyle and fashion brands expanding across different time zones and languages, there are a number of factors that make Futura4POS a good fit for Cath Kidston. These include: a single customer record, mastered in Futura; ease of use from point of view of operational performance and the end user at the till; a global solution with a real time architecture; full visibility of sales reporting in local time; language support for 2-byte character sets; and flexibility to integrate easily with other 3rd party systems using standard APIs.
"Working with Futura and the experience to date has been phenomenal," concludes Karl de Bruijn. "The fact that we haven't had any downtime, despite an initial requirement to rely on mobile networks in a couple of stores, is testament to the stability of the system, and ongoing support is first class. Our current focus is on consolidating Futura as our key master environment for our omni-channel customer experience. That's important because the Japanese market is brimming with opportunities and we are already opening our 28th store just a couple of months after the acquisition."