Ann Summers is one of the most successful privately held companies in the UK. It has over 7500 party plan sales people and over 135 stores in the UK and Europe.
As a long term IT partner of Ann Summers, Eurostop has provided the company with retail solutions that provide a good return on investment. Eurostop’s e-pos solution is installed throughout the stores, with e-rmis Retail management solution at its head office.
Successful investment in IT
Following the success of the automated stock systems, the company has also invested in stock scanning and auditing as well a wireless warehouse picking system. The new system has increased efficiencies and reduced picking discrepancies considerably. Staff use scanners to pick stock which is recorded centrally and integrated with the head office systems.
More recently Ann Summers has implemented Customer Counting Solutions from Eurostop. The footfall counter is located by the door of the stores and is linked to software in the tills.
The results collected are fed directly into the head office system e-rmis, where the business intelligence data mining software interrogates the databases to provide management reports. The business intelligence module, specifically designed for merchandisers and senior management enables the sales data to be analysed in a number of ways.
Every step counts
“For us footfall is a key driver – we can monitor whether store traffic is up or down and work out what our sales conversions are from the transactions made,” explained the Corporate Projects and EPOS Executive at Ann Summers.
The company has also installed a time and attendance system that enables it to monitor sales against members of staff, hours of the day, days of the week and compare branch performances across different regions.
Being able to analyse the data down to this level of detail at store level enables the management to identify why store sales are up or down from average. Using the information from the reports that Eurostop’s solution supplies means that they can identify sales variations which may occur as a result of other factors rather than stock supply or weather. In the stores on the South Coast, for example, the company identified from footfall data that most customers shop earlier in the day and that the stores were quieter later than in other regions. By moving the opening hours for those stores earlier, sales were increased by over 4%.
Maximising staffing instore
Data from Eurostop’s solution also enables the team to look at the management of staffing in the stores. The company can work out staff cost ratio to sales and calculate true trading costs. Hourly sales data can be compared against the number of customers visiting the shop to ascertain whether by approaching customers more proactively this may increase sales.
This may involve introducing more training on products or customer service skills both at the recruitment stage and with ongoing staff development.
Introducing seasonal promotions
Ann Summers has also implemented the Promotions and Gifts Accounts Module within Eurostop’s e-rmis and e-pos. The company is introducing promotions like ‘buy one get one free’, where the lowest priced item is free.
Promotions can set up to be live for specific time periods on single or multiple items, or pick and mix promotions. The system automatically processes and applies discounts displaying the customer savings on the receipt, saving valuable time at the till and maximising trading margins as well as promoting “add on” sales.
“Despite operating in a cut throat promotional market, where margins are very tight, having the right data at our fingertips and being able to process options at the till point means that we are still able to react quickly to customer demand and bring promotions to the customer,” said Patel.
The company is also introducing serialised gift vouchers to customers in the run up to Christmas. Previously Ann Summers used printed vouchers, which were costly to print, track and redeem. If the vouchers were used for refunds, then there were restrictions on the values of the vouchers, such that cash amounts were often also included in refunds, which the customer does not always choose to spend in store and is potentially lost revenue.
The vouchers enable the company to provide any cash denomination that may be used in store. The store manager scans the voucher and can immediately see the amount available for the customer to redeem. It is now easy for customers to redeem the value to any amount, which is much more flexible.
Increased sales opportunities
Overall Ann Summers is delighted with the benefits that Eurostop’s systems have brought to the business to date.
The Corporate Projects and EPOS Executive at Ann Summers commented, “By targeting stores the company has increased sales by over 4%. However, for us it is not just about sales but operating a cost efficient business.”
“It is about achieving the right balance of having the right stock and staff in place to match the customer needs – that is where Eurostop’s solutions really work for us.”