Company: KPOS Computer SystemsCustomer: Golf NetworkSubmitted by: The itpr PartnershipDate: September 2002The creation of a successful retail network requires excellent financial control with stock visibility to support an attractive retail environment. The integrated retail software implemented by KPOS at Golf Network retail outlets is enabling the company to deliver a new shopping experience for golfers.
The software is supporting the company as it opens a chain of 40 retail outlets across Europe.
While many retailers have added direct and web based marketing to their mix, the addition of bricks and mortar stores to a successful multi-channel sales organisation is less typical. Golf Network is a golf marketing Affinity Company promoting golf events, holidays and goods through direct marketing, its website and through alliances with golf courses and hotel groups. Founded in 1998, the company has created a database of half a million European golfers and has now decided to expand further through a network of 40 retail outlets.”Our ambition is to change the way in which golf products are sold,” says Peter Durham, Sales Director at Golf Network.
“Golf shops have traditionally not offered the consumer a complete buying experience. Golf Network is about to change all that.”Indeed the company’s retail outlets – which number six to date – offer a diverse range of goods and services to meet golfers’ requirements. These range from a lifestyle area for browsing golf holidays or golf days on screen, a spike bar where golfers can choose and change their own spikes, to tailoring of a set of golf clubs to meet a golfer’s specific requirements based on height, weight and ability.”Golf Network stores use warm wood with a good use of colour lighting to create a very pleasant shopping environment.
This combined with strong branding in a concession type layout, laser custom fitting, a ladies and junior department and well trained, knowledgeable staff delivery a superb shopping experience.” Durham says.
To support this interactive experience and the rapid expansion of the chain, Golf Network needs to keep tight control over all aspects of the business whilst delivering a fast and efficient service. To meet this objective, Golf Network looked for an integrated retail software suite to deliver real time stock and sales information across the company.”Good in-store service demands excellent information visibility,” says Durham.
“However, retailing of golf equipment is far more complex than that of most other retail environments since each product can have a myriad of variations.” For example, one set of golf clubs comes with different shaft options, different lengths, lie angles and grips. Each version of the product will be appropriate for different customer groups. Such complexity makes the creation of item codes more challenging than most retail environments and demands a system that will allow a level of free text facility when placing purchase orders.Golf Network also faces the challenge of retaining financial control whilst undertaking rapid expansion.
“An excellent range of goods creates a good shopping experience for customers. However, due to experience, golf equipment manufacturers are reluctant to supply in large volumes to retail outlets. In order to create a network of 40 retail outlets with a broad range of products, we have to build excellent relationships with our suppliers,” says Durham.
Having reviewed the market, Golf Network opted for an integrated suite of software products from KPOS which comprises a five-user Retail*Star head office stock control system, integrated with the Encore EPOS system in the Golf Network six current retail branches. Encore runs on IBM SurePOS 500 touch-screen EPOS terminals, with IBM Sure Mark TF6 compact silent thermal printers. Golf Network’s head office and stores are linked using XcelleNet RemoteWare polling software over ISDN telephone lines.”The KPOS solution is PC and Windows-based at both the head office and in-store, with the very close integration between the two that we require for our retail operation. We are impressed with the functionality of Retail*Star and the easy access to information using the database and report generator,” Durham says.The Retail*Star system manages Golf Network’s central business operations, including management of the product file, purchase ordering, barcode printing and shelf-edge labelling.
Shops also have access to Retail*Star from the back office for stock enquiries, inter-branch transfers, goods receipts and barcode label printing. Local branch stocktaking facilities are also provided, using hand-held devices, with an automatic upload of stock taking information for reconciliation on the central stock system.
Even before KPOS had been rolled out to every store, Golf Network was attaining benefits from the deployment – specifically in a detailed, real time picture of stock availability.Retail*Star enables Golf Network to scan stock availability across the company, drilling down to specific product information, including sales rates and history. “I can see a complete picture of our stock holding, whether stock is in-store, reserved for a customer, on display, or damaged and awaiting collection by a supplier,” he says.
In-store access also enables staff to see stock availability in other stores and reserve stock for a customer. “We can also reallocate stock between stores if it is selling better in one area, reducing the overall stock we have to carry,” he says.Store staff can also place orders for stock – orders are authorised at head office and forwarded to the supplier with minimal human interaction, reducing the number of people required to handle purchase ordering.
Support for Trade-In
KPOS has also tailored the system to support in-store purchase of ‘trade-in’ items. Unlike most retailers, Golf Network allows its in-store staff to accept used goods as part of a sale, that are then sold on from either the same store or another in the chain.
The system uses barcodes to provide full item tracking from initial purchase with cost price through detailed classification and resale price. It also uses exception reporting to raise an alert at head office if the prescribed mark-up is not being achieved on resold trade-in items.”If staff has paid too much for an item we can insist it is sold at less than the expected mark-up,” says Durham. “This will impact on the overall results of the store – and the staff bonus. Such immediate visibility of information is essential to ensure the business meets its profit margins whilst, at the same time, empowering staff to make business decisions and build their own customer relationships.”
The system will be deployed in each new store – a number expected to reach 12 by 2003.
“Golf Network has developed its retail network very quickly and we could not have begun such an expansion without excellent financial control and stock visibility. Without KPOS we would have quickly lost control of the business. Instead we have a system that enables us to run more efficiently than the competition, providing the resources to support the in-store experience.”This information visibility is also proving valuable to Golf Network in the development of its relationships with suppliers. The company is regularly sharing information on product sales, geographically, with product manufacturers. “Sell through is a key objective for manufacturers these days,” says Durham.
“They love the fact that we can provide them with detailed feedback on sales of their products across our stores. As a result, they are very keen to work with us and develop specific promotions in-store.”Looking ahead, Golf Network’s next plan is to develop a loyalty card system using the KPOS technology already in place in-store. Durham says, “A loyalty programme will play an important role in the development of our retail strategy. The KPOS solution supports our plan to introduce a Bronze, Silver and Gold system over the next few months.”Durham concludes, “Golf Network is on track to open 40 stores within the next five years and KPOS will be with us all the way – the KPOS system is key to our successful expansion.”