Competition in the apparel industry is fierce. For fashion businesses like Buffalo David Bitton, it is vital to make the right style, colour and size choices, and ensure that the right amount of stock is allocated to the right sales channels at the right times.
However, analyzing, planning and forecasting demand and inventory for wholesale, online and in-store channels can be a complex challenge, as Stephen White, IT Director at Buffalo, explains: “We work in a tough business. Once you get a customer onto your website, or into your space, you want to be able to maximize your ability to sell to them. It’s vital to understand sales trends across all of your channels so you can be sure you always have the right products on hand to appeal to each customer. When your sales data is held in different systems, it can be very difficult to get that holistic view.”
Buffalo runs its sales channels – online, in-store and wholesale – on different software systems, while its financial data is managed in another system. Historically, this disparity meant that reporting was a laborious process. “Buffalo’s systems are well engineered to run our day-to-day operations,” says White. “However, their reporting capabilities are limited, making it difficult to gain an overall view of the business or to slice, dice and drill down into data.”
“When we were looking at a product, a style or a vendor, we had to rely on ERP data, output as spreadsheets. We then had to analyze and consolidate these spreadsheets into reports, which took an entire day. If you have weekly channel meetings every Monday, but the figures aren’t ready until Tuesday, that hinders your ability to make decisions.”