When asked about their strategic business priorities, most retailers put customer experience at the top of their list. Yet, many retail businesses are still running on fragmented and disconnected systems – which, inevitably, only produce disconnected, poor customer experiences. A unified commerce platform – a single system that covers the whole enterprise, including sales channels, and front and back office – is necessary for modern retail businesses. Without it, you can’t know your customers, can’t see what is going on across your enterprise, or have timely business data. Ultimately, you can’t deliver seamless experiences.
“A unified commerce strategy isn’t ‘another thing you need to worry about’ — it’s the only thing you need to worry about,” writes Justin Guinn, Content Analyst at software comparison firm Software Advice.
But is this unified commerce really worth the investment?
Here are seven real-life examples of businesses that ditched their old, homegrown, disconnected systems for a unified commerce platform.
The resort that went from 26 software solutions to one
Blue Mountain is one of Canada’s largest ski resorts, with everything from accommodations, stores, rentals, to supermarkets and restaurants, under the same brand. Blue Mountain used to run each part of the business with a separate application. They had 26 different systems which couldn’t communicate with each other. The result? Management didn’t have an overview of their business. They couldn’t run loyalty programs, because implementing them over every single system would be too expensive. They could not identify best- or lowest-selling items, and therefore couldn’t do promotions. They wanted to operate as a unified brand, but couldn’t, because of their software.
Today, all of Blue Mountain’s transactions and services – retail stores, restaurants, inventory management, the whole setup – run on just one unified commerce platform. Management can do promotions and track loyalty, they have a clear view of what’s working and what isn’t at any given moment, and most importantly, they can finally run the resort as one.
The discount retailer that cut queues and grew revenue
Gallo Clothing is a discount clothing retailer with large warehouses in the US. They were using a mish-mash of old software solutions until one Christmas eve, the busiest day of the year, with the store full of customer, their system suddenly went down, causing all cash registers to stop working. The cashiers began processing all transactions manually, writing down every item and price. The lines grew longer, and slower. Some customers complained, some walked out.
“It was a nightmare,” Barry Kozlowski, Vice President of Gallo Clothing, told us. “One of our cash registers locked up, causing all of the systems in our main store to go down. There were lines wrapped around the store because we had to process all transactions manually by writing everything down. We easily lost $20,000 that day, and who knows the long term effects it had on repeat business.”
That’s when Gallo decided they needed a new system.
Today, the company uses LS Retail unified commerce software. Not only haven’t they had any issues, but since implementing it, they have achieved record profits. They say it’s because the system is so fast and efficient. The President at Gallo told us “In the years since implementing LS Central, we’ve seen more customers, sold more products and had much shorter lines.”
The fashion retailer that now manages replenishment in minutes, not days
The Al-Batool stores sell fashion, footwear and health & beauty products to customers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
For years, Al-Batool managed its businesses using a disconnected Point of Sale system and ERP. Inventory planning was complex and ineffective. Employees had to use Excel sheets to analyze the previous 4-5 months, and then manually predict sales for the upcoming months. If any festivity was coming up, they’d have to guess how these could affect sales based on past experiences. This process was imprecise and extremely time consuming, requiring lots of manual work and complicated calculations.
Today, with LS Central Al-Batool can track sales, stock, and productivity in real time across all locations. The replenishment automations take care of forecasting, predicting demand faster and more accurately than ever before. “All calculations and forecasting are now done easily, and purchase orders are raised directly through the system,” a representative from the company told us. “We have abandoned all manual processes. Replenishment, which used to take few days, has been brought down to a few minutes,” he added.
The beauty retailer that can finally run effective promotions
TFS Company Limited imports and sells best-selling Korean cosmetic brand The Face Shop in Thailand. With their old homegrown system, accounting and financial data had to be gathered, analyzed and evaluated manually. The process was slow and complicated, and led to errors, loss of data, and security risks. Sales and promotions couldn’t be managed centrally: store employees had to manually enter the discount in percentage points, which led to mistakes.
Today, the company can see clear, real-time stock and sales information. They can also plan various types of promotions in the back-end and let the system take care of distributing them to all touchpoints and calculating the discount. Most importantly, when a new promotion is launched, the system can analyze feedback through different variables, such as location base, domestic base, loyalty member/non-member and so on. These insights have enabled the marketing team at TFS to plan more effective campaigns that produce higher returns for the business.
The grocery, deli, creamery and vitamin store that runs many businesses in one
Freshmart is a Puerto Rican chain of one-stop food and health stores: its locations combine supermarket, deli, creamery and a supplements/vitamin store under one roof.
Running a full-scale supermarket is very different from managing a deli and ice cream parlor, or a supplement and vitamin shop. Freshmart runs all of these businesses at once, and as one brand. To deliver a consistent guest experience and maintain a clear overview, Freshmart needed a unified software solution with retail and food service and grocery store functionality.
With LS Central, Freshmart can finally manage its entire offering keeping its brand promise, and the customer experience, at the center. The company got its return on investment within 6 months of implementation. They attribute most of the savings to how effective the LS Central replenishment functionality is. As a matter of fact, the company has managed to cut its purchasing costs by 80%, at the same time decreasing its safety stock levels and reducing waste and spoilage.
“LS Central is not simply unified across technology platforms, such as POS and ERP, but also across multiple industries in food and retail. This is unified commerce to the nth degree,” says Jorge Machado, CEO at Freshmart.
LS Central also helped Freshmart stay on top of consumer demand when habits changed overnight. During the Covid-19 crisis, Freshmart’s new technology enabled the brand to keep its stores open, offering meal plans and food pickup and delivery. “A little over a year ago this would have seemed like a pipe dream, but now we can do it, easily,” says Machado.
The non-profit retailer that can now help more artisans worldwide
Ten Thousand Villages is one of the largest fair-trade organization in the U.S. The brand sells its sustainably sourced, fair-trade products through an eCommerce store, a retail chain of company-owned, franchise and pop-up stores, and at hundreds of independent retailers. The brand’s mission, to provide jobs and income for people overseas and to work with suppliers who offer fair wages and quality products, requires smart buying, efficient operations, and effective accounting tools. Unfortunately, with the outdated software the company was using, data was siloed inside disparate systems, making reporting a nightmare; many processes were manual, and relied on an ineffective mix of Excel spreadsheets and paper-based documents; inventory management, pricing and promotion were complex and inefficient.
“After evaluating the products on the market, we determined that there were only a very small number that actually provided all of that functionality,” said Nate Shaffer, Consultant and Project Manager at Ten Thousand Villages. “There were lots of solutions that were very good at the retail end; there were others that were very good at the wholesale end, but we only came down to a few that were capable of doing it all.”
Since implementing LS Retail technology, the replenishment automations have resulted in a significant increase in sales for Ten Thousand Villages. Visibility into products and costs has enabled the company to increase their positive impact. “One thing that’s unique to us is that we care as much about the people making the product as we do about profit, so when we’re buying a product, it’s not just about finding the best product at the cheapest price,” said Chad Warfel, CFO of Ten Thousand Villages. “We’re concerned about the artisans we’re intentionally working with, and that creates a complexity in our business model. With our technology solution, we get better visibility not only into profitability, but into sustainability, so we can stay in business and continue to help the artisans around the world that we support to stay in business—to provide a fair way to business. That’s our whole mission.”
The luxury department store that went omni-channel
Bongénie-Grieder runs a chain of twenty luxury fashion stores in Switzerland. When Bongénie decided to add an eCommerce channel, they wanted it to offer the exceptional, high-end experience the brand is known for. To do that, it would need to work seamlessly with the physical stores.
Today Bongénie uses just one software platform to manage purchasing, logistics, inventory and sales in the stores and on the eCommerce site, as well as production, sales and service in their restaurants, bars, and catering services. Most importantly, the company can run its omni-channel business as one, which includes showing current product availability on the eCommerce site, offering omni-channel loyalty programs, and letting customers shop as they prefer – for example, they can order items online and return them in store.
The company can also now see timely and reliable business data, and get a clear overview of its entire enterprise at all times. “LS Central offers unique support for the data of our entire business group, unique both in terms of the quality of the information, and the availability of this information,” says Vincent Stoupy, Head of IT at Bongénie.
Are you ready to take the step to a unified commerce platform? Contact us: we can help.