Stafford Group are manufacturers and retailers of high-end men’s suiting and apparel, including brands such as Stafford Ellinson, Anthony Squires, Giotto & London Fog. They operate 24 concession stores within David Jones department stores and their business has been running on IBM i for well over 15 years. They run several packages: Oracle JD Edwards World for accounting, ACS for manufacturing, and RMS for back-end retail support. They have also developed extensive additional functionality with RPG.
Stafford’s retail staff within David Jones did not have any connectivity to the company’s IBM i applications, and were forced to use David Jones’ point of-sale systems. This meant staff did not have easy access to stock positions of inventory. If a potential customer asked for stock that wasn’t on the floor, the staff member would first check his/her reserve, which could take several minutes. If the garment wasn’t in reserve, it would typically take an additional few minutes to phone head office to see if it was available in another store. This process resulted in poor customer service, and often the potential sale was lost to another concession nearby.
Stafford also needed to accommodate for the growing trend of online sales, by offering online product catalog, shopping cart and purchasing functionality
Stafford identified that providing the retail sales staff with real-time mobile access would be an ideal solution for improved customer responsiveness and support. “We chose iPhones for the initial implementation, although the solution will work on any mobile device. I personally use a HTC smartphone.” Explains Rod Riley, IT Manager at Stafford. “For the initial design and rollout, we provided our staff members with stock-on-hand for all stores, sizing, pricing and APN information. By choosing looksoftware’s technology, we were able to leverage all the existing business logic and data on our IBM i. It only took 5 days of development to have the first version up and running”, enthuses Rod.
“We rolled out iPhones at a rate of 5 per week over the ensuing month. Since the initial project was so quick and successful, we decided to see what else the concession stores could benefit from. We were able to add a transfer system to the mobile solution. Before this, we had the store fill out manual transfer dockets that would get lost in the mail, or turn up days after the transfer was completed,” explains Rod.
Within a few months of implementation, Stafford measured the impact that the mobile solution has had on their business. “It was incredible. We saw an increase in sales of 16% when the department store as a whole a had sales decrease of 2-3%,” says Rod. “We also measured our stock accuracy and year-end stock counts. We now have 97-98% accuracy rates, compared with 90% before the iPhone access. We also feel that the overall customer service we are providing is of a much higher standard because of the mobile access we have provided staff.”
After the mobile solution proved to be so successful, Stafford worked with looksoftware to help them with real-time eCommerce functionality to support online sales. “We chose soarchitect and lookserver enterprise to publish our existing order-entry functions as web services. Working with our web developers, we were able to quickly provide product selection, shopping cart and purchasing facilities online.”
“We now have 2 websites fully functioning with eCommerce; anthonysquires.com.au and staffordellinson. Although still in its infancy, we are already averaging $4,000 to $5,000 a week in online sales.”