Women’s luxury sports brand Sweaty Betty is using software solutions provider Cegid’s CBR suite to gain a more rounded view of its customer journeys.
Sweaty Betty’s finance operations director, Mark Smith, told Computer Weekly that its previous platform, Retail Pro, was no longer fit for purpose and the firm needed something to help it address the needs of the modern customer across supply chains and channels.
“Our old platform was very unstable, a flat field structure that was constantly corrupting, so we knew we had to make a change,” says Smith. “The development path for the old product was very unclear.”
But why did it choose Cegid? Smith says it was partly because the required solution did not need many bespoke features.
When getting an external provider to develop a heavily bespoke system, the ongoing process can often become complicated and costly, he says.
“We’re all fairly simple retailers, really. We buy it at one price, and we try to sell it a bit more expensive. We can make it a bit too complicated for our own good sometimes.”
Cegid also appealed to Sweaty Betty because of its size and forward-thinking. Smith says some of the larger ERP players, such as SAP and Oracle, are too big for a firm such as Sweaty Betty, but smaller providers can often be behind on trends.
“We were really sold on Cegid as a scalable, relatively cost-effective solution, without the need to go into heavy bespoking,” he adds.
In the future, Smith hopes Sweaty Betty’s stores will scrap fixed tills completely and work through a roaming tablet-based till system similar to the Apple Store.
“This old-fashion idea of a till block in the middle of a shop that distracts the customer’s behaviour – the customers skirt around it and it takes up space,” he says.
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“Our shops are only 1,000 sq ft and this one focal point – I have a dream of getting rid of it totally.”
As long as other factors are considered, such as users paying with cash rather than by digital methods, such solutions can provide a better customer experience and be efficient and effective, says Smith.
Currently, Sweaty Betty's staff members roam the shop floor with iPads, but these are not yet integrated with the Cegid backend system. Its stores are currently rolling out mobile tills.
But Smith thinks brick-and-mortar stores are far from dead – they just need to change a lot to appeal to today’s customers.
“People are always going to want to shop and we’re social beings when it comes down to it,” says Smith.
“The internet is fantastic for a lot of things, but there are still some of the products and the experience you give in store that cannot be matched online.”
Utilising the retail space
Sweaty Betty uses its stores to hold sports classes, which are bookable online for members, and although internet retail makes up 30% of its business, the firm tries to give customers a reason to visit its branches.
“The internet is an important part, but nothing can beat the experience of a store,” says Smith. “So we are definite that there is room for more stores.
“If you can bring some theatre and you have the classes and the service, then that’s a reason to go to the store.”
The firm also plans to develop an integrated view of its customers as a whole, including both online and offline interactions with the brand.
The internet is an important part, but nothing can beat the experience of a store
Mark Smith, Sweaty Betty
Previously, it was only possible to collect data from website transactions and store data without having a view of the customer as a whole, because the data was not connected.
Sweaty Betty’s membership scheme makes it easier to track individuals online, on mobile and in store to get a wider view of its customers.
The firm will then use Cegid as a central engine for all data to make it easier to access across departments and to analyse the data provided.
“Most stores can’t do that because you don’t know who your customer is,” says Smith. “But because we build that interaction and that partnership with them, they will happily share their address details and email address.”
Smith says 70-75% of customers will give their postcode and email address when they shop, providing a “bigger picture” of their lifestyle and preferences.
“It gives us so much analysis about where to open stores,” he says. “We’re starting to work towards how we personalise it, but at the moment we don’t personalise customers' experience enough.”
Customer data allows the firm to direct its marketing and interaction, giving each customer a tailored experience based on what sports they like, what clothes they have bought and how they bought them, or which stores they visit.
RFID too expensive
The retailer is not using RFID in stores yet, but hails retailers such as Marks and Spencer that are using the technology to track stock in stores and streamline ordering and delivery.
Smith says there is no reason not to use an RFID system, but it is currently too expensive.
“The problem until very recently was the prices of the tags - they’ve only just started to come down.”
As for in-store beacons, although Smith sees value in the technology, he is not sold.
“We’re in a classic situation now where everyone’s putting money into beacons and throwing money at beacons and no one is clearly defined what use they are,” he says. “It feels like the latest boys' toy.”