Max Fashions gains customer insights
Fast, agile reporting has transformed operations…
Fashion is a highly competitive industry, and access to the right information at the right time is a critical aspect to success.
Management at high street and online retailer Max Fashions have taken a smart approach to resolving limitations with their existing retail software they had outgrown by implementing a self-service reporting solution that is paying dividends.
Sarita Hibbard, supply chain manager at Max, knew that decision-making across the business was being severely impacted by inadequate reporting. Updating reports was expensive, slow and difficult, and a lack of specialised internal resources forced her to log a request with an external IT provider to get a quote.
“You couldn’t amend reports unless you were a developer. It would cost a lot of money, take a long time, and by the time you got it, the data was irrelevant. If I wanted to see weekly sales by product line, I’d have to get 15 separate reports from 15 weeks and amalgamate them manually. It took about four hours.”
Supply chain and stock management, as well as the customer relations department, all needed better, faster and more up-to-date data to keep ahead of the game.
Hibbard was introduced to data and business analytics specialist NOW Consulting.
After a requirements discovery and scoping phase, NOW set about using Wherescape’s automation tools to establish a data warehouse. This extracts data out of the retail system and transforms it to produce Microsoft Analysis Services Cubes on Max’s key functions. These can be easily accessed from Excel, allowing creation of reporting templates and self-service analysis by business users. In addition, Microsoft’s Power BI tool was configured to provide interactive dashboards with the potential to deliver a mobile analytics solution across the whole business.
The benefits of the project kicked in well before it had been completed. Staff could access data far more easily, and find answers to questions faster. Sales information could be quickly split at a category level, by customer segment, or by town or region.
Hibbard says her weekly sales reports by product line now take minutes instead of hours. She also loves that the reports are set up on pivot tables, so they can be changed or refreshed according to the date or product range. Easy access to information has already made for a more informed, more agile company.
“It’s just fast, timely information that helps us make business decisions. Should we run this promo or that one? Discount $10 or $20? Should we send it to all our customers or just the VIPs? Ultimately it helps us trade better.”
Instead of wasting time trying to extract data manually, the planning team at Max spend that time far more usefully – analysing and choosing the most meaningful and effective applications for that data.
“I can now be a strategist instead of just an admin person. Our marketing team also find it very helpful – they specialise in customer insights, and now they have them at their fingertips.”
Contact with the NOW team was positive from the beginning. Throughout the scoping and pricing negotiations, Max management commented that the staff from NOW were good to deal with. The consultant assigned to the project went through the requirements with them face to face in the office three or four days a week. He put the effort into understanding the business to find what would be best for them – something Hibbard particularly appreciated.
Hibbard also says he didn’t let his obvious technical expertise get in the way of communication.
“He listened, asked the right questions and had a way of talking about technical stuff so it made sense to us and our work. He was excellent. We can’t speak highly enough of him”.
NOW Consulting completed the project for Max ahead of schedule and under budget. Within that scope they also delivered a few extras that impressed Max management. One was financial reporting that showed how exchange rate movements affected Max’s bottom line, and another was a very useful self-service feature.
“Our CEO is passionate about customer insight. He used to ask, ‘Can you find out this?’ But now that it's self-service, he can look for himself. He’s playing around and answering his own questions. He loves it.”