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Luxury golf shoe maker Royal Albartross extends online reach with SAP

Golf shoe maker looks to up its game by using e-commerce software as a service from SAP Anywhere

A luxury golf shoe maker is looking to drive sales by using e-commerce software as a service.

Alex Bartholomew, designer and founder of Royal Albartross, which retails hand-made golf shoes, belts and luggage to high-disposable-income golfers, mostly in the US, chose SAP Anywhere to up the small firm’s game.

Bartholomew, who started up her business in 2006, says: “Even if you are a small company, technology has the power to enable you to compete with far bigger companies. This is hugely exciting, but can be a little unnerving, especially if you are fairly new to the market.

“That is why SME retailers need a technology partner that can provide a simple, easy-to-implement solution – one that is mobile and flexible.”

Although 70% of the company’s sales stem from the US, its suppliers are in Italy, among family-run firms that have “practised an old craft” for generations, says Bartholomew, and the shoes and other leather products are designed in the UK.

The firm’s core team of 10 people are based in an office in London, and it has two warehouses in the UK and a dispatch centre in Scottsdale, Arizona, US. Its current website gets about 1,000 hits a day, and it is about to launch a new site with SAP Anywhere.

“I am more of a creative than a techie, and what this [engagement] has made me realise is that gut feel is limited,” says Bartholomew. “With SAP Anywhere, we are getting the absolute facts – and from everywhere.”

Bartholomew’s company came across the technology at a golf trade show in Orlando, Florida in January 2016, and she liked it – especially the fact that, as a small business owner, the SAP system will take technology elements already in use.

“If you are used to the FedEx online delivery system, that is taken in as an app,” she says. “If you use Xero as your accounting system, it will take that.

“If I am in Italy, and I want to see what my agent in Scottsdale has been doing, I can see his dashboards, his appointments, what deals he’s tied up, what he is waiting on stock-wise, and so on.”

Read more about e-commerce for SMEs

Bartholomew believes the online retail industry has “gradually done a good job of convincing people that this is a good way to buy and receive goods”.

But Royal Albartross has a real-world dimension, too, with the shoes, belts and luggage being sold at golf clubs and boutiques, such as Carnoustie, Trump Turnberry, Loch Lomond and Wentworth in the UK and 55 courses in the US. Celebrity customers include Dougray Scott, Rob Bryden and Les Ferdinand.

Alexander was speaking at a roundtable event in London last week at which SAP Anywhere – which started in China, for small businesses doing e-commerce, and has been present in the UK for six months – released some survey research about small businesses and e-commerce.

One-third of SMEs use three forms of social media

The survey was conducted face to face with more than 100 senior retail business leaders at the Internet Retailing Expo and retail sector event Pulse between April and May, 2016.

It found SME retailers were active on social channels, with all respondents using at least one channel and 29% using more than three forms of social media.

EJ Jackson, senior vice-president and general manager of SAP Anywhere, said: “At the Internet Retailing Show in April, the vast majority were keen to learn more about how they could leverage social media to reach new customers in the UK and further afield.”

Respondents indicated some barriers to putting digital systems in place for retailing. Cost was a drawback for digital investment among 23% of them.

Businesses were also concerned that technology would take time taken away from running their company, with 21% of respondents citing this as a hurdle and 17% citing security as an issue.

Jackson added: “We wanted to combine all the various software that SMEs often use into one mobile platform, accessible anywhere, available on any device, flexible so they can see any part of their business, and robust enough to interact and support all their needs, whether it is sales, marketing, customer engagements or managing inventory.”

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)