72 stores - Furniture & Homewares

Informed Retailer Case Study
Early Settler

An integrated retail software solution

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“I believe that agility and speed to market is absolutely critical to survival and success in retail – and no more has that been the case than right now in the current climate.

With Retail Express, we have the real-time data and features available to us to deliver consistently excellent customer service, be lean and efficient with our processes and be able to quickly adapt to changes in the market.”

–Neil Cresswell, CFO - Early Settler

Return on Investment Summary

By adopting Retail Express, Early Settler have been able to:

Provide accurate ETAs to customers via full supply chain visibility.

Reduce sales order creation time and increase employee productivity.

Minimise cancellations through proactive customer communication.

Reduce overstocks and understocks via precise demand forecasting.

Optimise inbound container capacity and slash landed costs.

Improve home delivery speed and efficiency with driver run sheets.

Maximise their agility with a best-in-class integrated ecosystem.

A multi-store, omni-channel furniture and homewares retail success story.

Since opening their first store in 1985, Early Settler has grown to become a network of over 70 stores across Australia and New Zealand as well as a flourishing eCommerce presence.

Right from the very beginning they’ve been committed to offering customers the widest possible range of stylish, affordable, and built to last products teamed up with the very best in customer service.

Their furniture range has grown to cover every corner of the home - from kitchens, dining rooms and lounges through to home offices, bedrooms and bathrooms. Alongside this they also offer a wide array of homewares, home renovation and lighting products.

But while the company’s successful store network, eCommerce and product range expansion has enabled them to become a leading force in the market, it has also presented an increasing amount of complexity to manage throughout their growth journey.

Complex bulky goods operations required a more sophisticated system.

Like most furniture retailers, 80% of Early Settler’s product ranges are Sales to Order items – bulky goods where a sales order and deposit is taken in advance, then goods are fulfilled to the customer at later date once they’ve made their way through the supply chain and  received into the business.

This involves managing thousands of container imports per year from many suppliers, factories, with constantly changing ETA dates.

Providing reliable and acceptable ETAs to customers for all of the goods they wish to purchase is therefore critical to securing sales and ongoing loyalty.

Early Settler were originally using an on-premise, server-based solution for their Point of Sale and operations management software. However, it was increasingly evident that this did not provide the critical features and real-time intelligence needed to build a best-in-category customer experience and efficient business processes.

So, in 2009, they made the decision to adopt Retail Express and leverage the powerful omni-channel supply chain and inventory management features and process automation capabilities it provides.

Providing accurate ETAs via full supply chain visibility at POS.

With their old POS system being server-based rather than a cloud solution, store employees did not have access to real-time status of where goods were in the supply chain and inventory levels across all stores within the business.

Staff had to use printed reports and make countless phone calls to see if stock was on order or in the process of being shipped. And for inventory within the warehouse and other stores, data polling and corruption meant that employees were often seeing out of date and inaccurate information.

So, when a customer visited a store, it was difficult for employees to provide accurate ETAs and set realistic expectations. When multiple products were on one order, each coming from different suppliers with different lead times, the risk of getting an ETA wrong was common.

Often several stores were allocating and over-committing the same stock to different customers.

All of this meant that store employees were not confident in the ETAs they were providing customers which impacted their success at winning the sale. And when orders were taken, there was a higher risk of cancellations from the customer when the goods had not arrived by the estimated dates.

With the introduction Retail Express, Early Settler store employees were instantly able to get full, real-time visibility of the entire supply chain for every product in the business portfolio - all within the POS interface.

Staff in any store can see in real-time whether stock is on purchase order, on an inbound container or received in the warehouse.

They can then see an estimated lead-time based on the live status of the products and then allocate the stock to the customers order within a few button clicks, instantly removing it from the stock-on-hand available to other stores.

Not only does this mean store employees can more confidently provide a realistic, real-time data driven ETA and avoid double-allocating stock, it also means they win more sales by having visibility of and access to stock further up the supply chain than they had with their old system.

“The full, real-time supply chain visibility that Retail Express provides to all of our store employees has been an absolute game-changer for us.

Store staff now have the confidence to provide prospective customers with an accurate ETA for multiple products on one order. This in turn instils more confidence from our customers, driving a better customer experience and securing more sales.

Add to this the fact that store staff are able to pre-sell off purchase orders and inbound containers – means we are truly maximising our sales potential. This functionality is vital to us as a bulky goods retailer – it’s absolutely pivotal to our success.”
– Neil Cresswell, CFO - Early Settler

Reducing sales order creation time.

Before adopting Retail Express, store employees had to use printed reports and make phone calls to check the status of stock on hand and on order, this was extremely time consuming for employees and for customers.

Most customers want to purchase multiple products in a package when they visit a store, and it used to take a long time for store staff to provide ETAs for all the goods and generate a proposed order. This created a significant risk of customer walk outs and lost sales.

With Retail Express providing the ability for store employees to see the ETAs for the whole package instantly within the POS, they’re able to eliminate wait time to create an order and focus on interacting with the customer.

“Retail Express has allowed us to provide an exceptional level of in-store service by eliminating a lot of the customer wait time to provide ETAs for their order. It’s meant our store employees are as productive as possible – they can now focus their time on sales and service rather than manual processes. Which is better for us and better for our customers”
– Neil Cresswell, CFO - Early Settler

Reducing cancellations.

With Retail Express, each store is provided with a report showing real-time ETA changes such as POs being pushed out and shipping windows missed. Armed with this information, they can then proactively reach out customers and provide advanced communication of this change in ETA.

While customers never want to experience delays in the arrival of their goods, the timely and proactive communication means that many cancellations can be avoided and customer goodwill is maintained.

This combined with more realistic, data-driven ETAs being set at the time of order, has allowed Early Settler to significantly reduce their cancellations

“On our old system, we had no real means to stay on top of ETA changes and inform customers ahead of time. With Retail Express, our store teams get so much forward visibility.

The result has been that we’ve been able to significantly reduce our cancellations and offer customers the most transparent and reliable service possible.

Again, this is an absolute game-changer for a business that is primarily sales to order, bulky goods!”
– Neil Cresswell, CFO - Early Settler

Reducing overstocks and understocks through precise demand forecasting.

By leveraging the historical sales data and powerful reporting capabilities of Retail Express, Early Settler have been able to substantially improve their demand forecasting capabilities and purchasing accuracy.

This means they’ve been able to reduce excess stock that would typically have to be discounted at a later date while also avoiding understocking that would result in lost sales.

“Retail Express allows us to get deep insights into the historic sales performance of all items in our portfolio.

That combined with full supply chain status and lead time visibility means we’re able to more accurately make decisions on what to buy, in which quantities and when for each store.

This maximises sales and product availability for our customers while minimising the risk of being over-stocked.”
– Neil Cresswell, CFO - Early Settler

Optimising inbound container capacity and slashing landed costs.

Early Settler have made extensive use of the unique container capacity planning solution within Retail Express, allowing them to look at the dimensions of all the products they’re ordering from overseas suppliers and maximise use of container space.

“With the container capacity planning capabilities of Retail Express, we can get the maximum volume of stock into the business at the lowest possible cost per container.

It allows us to keep our pricing competitive, maintain our margins and offer the widest stock availability to our customers.

It’s another completely unique solution that just shows Retail Express gets the furniture retail space and has developed innovative features that have a major impact on profitability and customer experience.’
– Neil Cresswell, CFO - Early Settler

Improving home delivery speed and efficiency with driver run sheets.

The driver run sheet planning features within Retail Express enables Early Settler’s warehouse teams to plan the optimum home delivery runs based on all the current orders within the system, live inventory availability and individual customer locations.

This means that goods can be delivered to the customer as quickly as possible and with maximum productivity.

“The home delivery experience is a key moment of truth for our customers. With the Retail Express driver run sheets feature we can ensure we are meeting and exceeding customer expectations of getting their goods as quickly as possible. We can also maximise efficiency and eliminate unnecessary freight costs.”
– Neil Cresswell, CFO - Early Settler

Securing a first mover advantage with a best-in-class integrated cloud ecosystem.

By adopting Retail Express, Early Settler have been able quickly implement a wide range of processes and practices that have transformed their bulky goods operations.

Capabilities that CFO, Neil Cresswell, believes that would not have been realised had they adopted an all-in-one, expensive ERP system.

“A Big ERP implementation carries a certain amount of risk and is high cost, takes a long time to implement and usually the need for a whole team to manage infrastructure and development. There’s a lot of uncertainty that you’ll actually build the system you had all planned out.

So we decided to build an ecosystem of best-in-class cloud software systems that each provide all the core functionality we need off the shelf, rather than us having to build it from the ground up.

With Retail Express, Wise Warehouse Management, Shopify and our PIM, we’re working with partners that are constantly innovating based on what’s critical and best practice for retailers right now.
– Neil Cresswell, CFO - Early Settler

In a retail environment that is increasingly turbulent and with customers afforded more choice than ever of who they buy from, Early Settler have best-positioned themselves to adapt and remain ahead of the pack.

I believe that agility and speed to market is absolutely critical to survival and success in retail – and no more has that been the case than right now in the current climate.

With Retail Express, we have the real-time data and features available to us to deliver consistently excellent customer service, be lean and efficient with our processes and be able to quickly adapt to changes in the market.”
– Neil Cresswell, CFO - Early Settler

Deliver the best customer experience across all channels.

Cut down on the duplicate work and meet your customers wherever they are. Reduce lost sales and increase your margins with Retail Express.

Until you’ve seen and tried Retail Express you have no idea of what you’re missing out on with your current system.
— Corey Davison, Johnny's Furniture

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