Today technology is a given for managing the complexities of a business. This is also true for retailers and inside a merchandising department. There are a number of amazing software solutions to aid retailers with getting their merchandise from their distribution centres to their stores. Whatever product is on offer, whether it is fashion or food. That product takes a logistical journey before it arrives on the shelf for a customer to buy. It is this product journey that needs a plan and the best way to manage that plan is a planogram or an automated interactive 3D store. This gives the business owner creative freedom, better store communication and better sales figures.
As a visual merchandiser in South Africa I have not, as yet, been lucky enough to work on an integrated visual software solution that allows me to interact visually with creative and cost solutions in a store environment. I have worked with CAD drawings and 3D renderings, production and accounting software systems, manually produced store directives and lots of spreadsheets. This naturally has huge limitations and grey areas that are open to countless errors and as this percentage increases the sales decrease. In the end a visual merchandising manager simply becomes reactive instead of proactive.
One of the main reason for visual merchandising (the silent seller) is to increase sales I feel that in today’s competitive market the only way to increase sales is to introduce technology. Once the visual merchandiser has the right tools to work with this will allow him or her to explore the many possibilities of enhancing any retail environment through a huge variety of avenues, whether it is by colour merchandising, equipment placement, store layout or stock intensity. The beauty of technology is that the all-so-important data is behind the visual user-friendly screen telling the VM manager and the business how much it is going to cost and how and where to add in equipment to visually improve the look of that department as well as to optimise the value of the stock on your floor space. With more time to play with ideas the creativity is boundless and the results will be seen in the increased percentage in sales.
Patrick Niland from Enhanced Retailing is the South African partner for Visual Retailing from The Netherlands. They offer this amazing software solution, training and consulting to the South African market.
1. What is the benefit of Mockshop for any retailer?
The benefits of Mockshop to either a brand owner or retailer are threefold, namely time saving, money saving and revenue generating. Once installed and setup, the ‘planogram’ generating function allows you to quickly update your in store guides at a click of a button. Judging by a number of the retailers we’ve been working with for the past year, it seems what used to take weeks can now be done in days. Also, as the guidelines are now easy to execute, the regional store visits are required less and less so travel costs plummet. These cost and time savings though significant, pale next to the most important benefit of increased sell through figures. As the ‘silent salesperson”, its uncontested that a well executed VM plan will derive more sales than an incorrectly merchandised plan. Mockshop delivers a speedy and more correctly executed plan. If one is to consider a mere 0.5% increase in sales following an improvement in the VM plan execution, you will find the figures staggering.
2. How does Mockshop work?
Mockshop is essentially a database of your product line’s information which is linked to an image of the product item. Using sophisticated 3D and rendering technology, as well as a number of other very useful functions, it allows the user to easily create or manage components of stores and actually visually merchandise them within a 3D environment. This can be done well in advance of stock arriving, in fact it can be done with either photographs of samples or CAD drawings. The value of this is not only speed of creating a VM plan, but also it allows the VM department to feedback into the buying/planning decisions with regards to how planned line items will be hitting the stores at the same time.
3. Does Mockshop improve store communication?
Yes – Hugely! The main reason for miscommunication is due to textual based guidelines or drawings which leave far too much room for subjective interpretation. As a result, stores and brands are being merchandised in an inconsistent manner. With Mockshop, the communication is visual, exact, easy to understand and therefore the VM plan is executed correctly much quicker, giving a consistent look and feel nationwide or globally.
4. Is Mockshop suitable for any type of South African retail or brand?
Absolutely, though I would say if you are selling through a handful of stores the requirement is much less than if you have 50 or 1000+ stores. The type of Mockshop user ranges from huge brands like Adidas, Puma, Lee, O’Neil, Jockey through to value chains and retailers like C&A, Macys, Auchan, Takko to name a few.
5. Do you see technologies like Mockshop playing a major role in the way South African fashion stores are merchandised?
Definitely. Having been working with most of the major fashion retailers here in SA over the last 12 months, the response has been incredible. SA retailers have, until now been restricted by limited resources and in some cases large numbers of stores. Getting the VM plan right has been a losing battle for many VM departments and the sales figures often reflect this when they compared a well visually merchandised store versus the rest. Even placing individuals in each store or regional VM managers is costly and still leaves room for subjective interpretation. Internationally the trend is to have and shorter sales cycles and to be as responsive to market demands as much as possible, whilst keeping within an planned story or concept. Employing technology to allow a faster and more cost effective way of merchandising goods in the intended fashion is an ideal solution for SA retailers and brand owners alike.