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Retail Directions Helps Underpin Cotton On’s Fast-track Growth
Cotton On is attempting a seamless customer journey across all sales channels. The omni-channel retailer has implemented Retail Directions’ retail management and store systems to assist with this goal and support its rapid growth plans.
Fashion retailer Cotton On has significantly improved its internal management processes and bottom line since implementing Retail Directions’ Retail Management System (RMS) for head office operations and Store Management System (SMS) to handle POS and store backend functions.
The renowned Australian retailer recognised that in order to maintain its strong market hold, a proven retail system was required to better service customers, and make business processes more efficient and easy to manage.
Supporting rapid growth and more
Cotton On now incorporates Cotton On Body (its intimates, sleepwear and activewear ranges), Cotton On Kids, Rubi Shoes, as well as gifts and stationery line Typo. Cotton On has also expanded overseas to markets in New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the US.
With the Retail Directions’ system in place, Cotton On can now centrally manage its data migration, user training and system configuration, resulting in greater efficiency for the organisation. Supply chain, merchandise management, and store-level systems are also handled by the IT system.
“One of our key business values is to dominate our chosen markets by being fast, flexible and dynamic. To enable us to do this, and with such a fast growing, diverse, and geographically spread operation, we need a system that can scale quickly and easily into new markets and at the same time would require little support and maintenance,” says Cotton On Chief Executive Peter Johnson.
The system provides Cotton On Group with real-time trading information, enabling the business to respond quickly to changing customer behaviour patterns. It allows the company to see which products are selling and to closely monitor in-stock situation.
Due to the inherent scalability of the system, Cotton On is able to use the same Retail Directions technology platform to support the ongoing rapid expansion of the business.
Smart retail system equals conversion optimisation
As a clothing retailer, Cotton On faces a particular challenge in terms of complex inventory management. Its stores have different requirements in terms of styles, sizes and colours. When it comes to lingerie, there can be as many as 40 size variants of the same bra. Retail Directions’ system supports all the complexities inherent in fashion stock management, as it has been built from the ground up for the apparel and footwear retail verticals.
Cotton On has also been able to avoid significant operating costs, as the Retail Directions system is a completely integrated and unified retail application. Hence, there is no need for file transfers, data reconciliations or data re-keying. This saves time and effort, but it also prevents errors. Typically, retailers need to continually run, reconcile and adjust interfaces between multiple systems.
Another area where Cotton On gained significant advantage with Retail Directions’ system is POS. Since it is so easy to use, Cotton On has made substantial operational savings, as cashier training is not required.
“Each cash register can operate independently, they are not affected by network outages, and sale transaction time is noticeably fast, allowing our retail team to focus on the customer experience not on the POS. In addition, many housekeeping tasks take place automatically, so there is less requirement for staff to be technically skilled,” says Johnson.
Cotton On launched its global e-commerce site in June 2011. The system was plugged into the Retail Directions system via its standard Web Services link. From the bricks-and-mortar system’s perspective, the online store is seen as an additional sales channel, enabling the business to deliver true cross-channel capabilities.
Retail Directions bolsters competitive advantage
Retail Directions’ Managing Director Andrew Gorecki says Cotton On’s senior management can now focus on the day-to-day business operations, rather than worrying about IT management.
“A good retail management system is like a strong nervous system; for a retailer such as Cotton On, it allows senior management to focus on running the business, rather than on managing IT. But, we don’t just provide a retail system; our entire organisation is focused on working exclusively with the retail industry so we know retail well. We work closely with our clients to ensure that our product provides them with a strong competitive advantage,” he says.
Gorecki adds that Cotton On will continue to work with Retail Directions to support its growing retailing empire, including continued growth plans for its e-commerce channel, mobile computing, and further developments overseas and locally.