Fashion retailers turn to IT to boost efficiency

Three of the UK’s leading clothing retailers have outlined IT initiatives spanning point-of-sale, product sourcing and supply...

Three of the UK’s leading clothing retailers have outlined new IT initiatives, spanning point-of-sale, product sourcing and supply chain management projects, as they look to boost efficiency and increase competitive advantage.

Department store group House of Fraser is to implement an integrated customer ordering and electronic point-of-sale system (Copos), to replace its ageing legacy systems.

The web-based Copos system, from supplier Unipower, will include order capture, stock visibility and supply chain routing capabilities, providing greater visibility of orders across the company’s 53 UK stores.

The system, thought to be the first of its kind in UK retail, will also support further growth once implementation is complete at the end of 2004, said Frank Berridge, IT director at House of Fraser.

“The software is fully object oriented and makes extensive use of web services, thereby providing us with a platform for onward development and enhancement,” he said.

Women’s fashion retailer Oasis has completed the last stage of a wide-ranging retail systems upgrade, adding sourcing software to its store, merchandising and sales analytics systems.

The sourcing system, from supplier NSB, replaces multiple spreadsheets which could only be accessed by one person at a time, provided no audit trail and were not integrated with other retail systems, said Richard Granville, finance director at Oasis.

“The system will reduce our lead time, giving us greater flexibility,” he said. “If we can buy goods nearer to the season we are selling them it will boost sales, and we will be able to make changes more quickly.”

Fashion retailer River Island, meanwhile, has begun the first stage of a supply chain enhancement programme, which is designed to support its rapidly expanding store network.

The company, which has 190 stores across the UK and Ireland, is rolling out a warehouse management system, from supplier Manhattan Associates, in its European distribution centre in Milton Keynes. It is also implementing labour management and business intelligence applications from Manhattan to augment the WMS.

The new systems will provide real time visibility into both supply chain operations and inventory held throughout River Island’s distribution network, and allow stores to change orders more quickly, said Ben Lewis, River Island director. 

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