April 30, 2012, 3:44 PM

New software helps a U.K.-based retailer boost sales 9%

The system also helped the menswear retailer eliminate $1.6 million in excess stock.

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U.K. menswear retailer Gieves & Hawkes recently implemented a new business management software system that helps the company better track and understand consumer purchase behavior and activity across its 15 locations and recently re-launched e-commerce site. The retailer says the system helped it increase online sales by 30% and total sales by 9% compared to a year earlier, and also eliminate 1 million pounds (US$1.61 million) in excess stock.

The new business management system, from K3 Retail, has helped improve Gieves & Hawkes’ stock management, finance, reporting and supply chain accounting to make consumer data more accurate and useful, the retailer says. 

The system enables Gieves & Hawkes to identify online, store and call center customers and retrieve customer details and transaction history. The retailer can now identify customers each time they come to the store or visit its e-commerce site and target them based on their past site activity and shopping history.

Gieves & Hawkes says being able to track customer behavior has helped it develop profitable new product lines.

In March, Gieves & Hawkes launched a made-to-measure shirt business after it found that many customers who were purchasing custom-made suits were not buying shirts because they could not be ordered in custom sizes, says Andrew Merriman, chief operating officer for Gieves & Hawkes. Now it has discovered that these customers are not buying coats from Gieves & Hawkes likely for the same reason they were not ordering shirts. And so, Gieves & Hawkes is adding custom-tailored coats to its offerings.

Since implementing K3, the retailer has developed new product lines, such as shoes and eyewear,based on customer insights it’s gleaned.   Just two years ago, 95% of its sales were suit jackets and trousers. Today those products represent 75% of sales, with the balance coming from new product lines.

“A big problem retailers have today is that they have a lot of information about a customer but they don't know if all of the information is valid and how they can best use it,” K3 project manager Philip Thomas says. Thomas says K3’s technology allows retailers to see how frequently a consumer shops, her total spending, transaction history, age and more. Companies like Gieves & Hawkes can then use that data in designing customized offers and track which ones are redeemed as well as where and when they are redeemed. 

Gieves & Hawkes also is using software from the vendor that enables it to integrate stock records and finances so that all sales are recorded in both the inventory and finance systems accurately. The retailer says this has reduced errors and opened up new business opportunities. Gieves & Hawkes is experiencing strong growth in customers from new markets like Russia. Meanwhile, in China, where the retailer has 105 stores, it’s learned customers require different sizes than required in other markets.

K3 keeps a record of each consumer’s online purchases and then marries those with store purchases to get a total view of customer behavior. When consumers make purchases in stores, sales associates ask for their first and last name and then record the purchase and any promotion used. Sales staff also can get a glimpse into what a consumer has purchased and the promotions she has been offered and used over time across all channels.  So, if a customer is in store, the sales staff can see what he has spent on the web, and if a customer is online, the retailer can see what he has spent in the stores, Thomas explains.

The K3 software tracks and combines consumers’ behavior via online accounts, loyalty cards, call center interactions and also their activity and preferences expressed during in-store fittings.   Each channel—be it a store, call center or web site—captures  customer activity and forwards that data to a single centralized database. 

Gieves & Hawkes is also using technology to offer better customer service in its flagship store in central London. Sales associates are equipped with mobile point-of-sale devices that enable them to record details and take payment while standing right next to customers in fitting rooms. Shoppers can even pay while getting their nails trimmed. 

Merriman says knowing customers’ preferences intimately helps the retailer better design unique offerings for all shoppers.  “All the little details we learn that our customers like, such as having pockets for two BlackBerrys and any other type of that request, helps us better understand what shoppers want,” Merriman says. “We know what they're after, we know what they like, we know what they don't like and therefore we offer ideas, products or services they haven't thought about. And all our customers say the same thing ‘Oh we didn't know you did that.’”

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