Lifestyle home furnishing store Wetherlys has implemented a business intelligence (BI) strategy based on QlikView to improve operational and merchandising efficiencies across its 32 stores.
The flagship retailer of Ellerines Holdings, owned by JSE-listed African Bank Investments (Abil), Wetherlys’ stores are located in major urban centres throughout South Africa.
In the past, the Wetherlys management information system ran on Crystal, generating reports directly from a range of data sources. “These reports were limited to basic measures and did not give us the insight we needed to run our business,” says IT executive Nazeem Aberdeen. “Another problem was the time it took to get meaningful numbers. We had to do a lot of manual calculations from the reports, and it was difficult to see how each store was performing.”
The QlikView system was implemented by BI consultants EnterpriseWorx. “We selected QlikView for three reasons,” says technical director Sean Longhurst. “First, we had demonstrated its value for another client in the retail sector and could assure Wetherlys that the solution would address its main areas of concern: operations and merchandising. Second, QlikView would align Wetherlys’ with its holding group, Ellerines, where it was already in use. Third, QlikView is very fast in terms of getting to the numbers. Access to information is almost instantaneous.”
The project methodology was agreed at an initial workshop between Aberdeen, Wetherlys’ operations executive Andreas Avrabos, and the EnterpriseWorx team. The operations and merchandising models were determined based on the key measures required to run the stores efficiently.
“The brief was very clear in terms of how the information should be presented,” says Longhurst. “That is the main reason for the implementation’s success. The clarity and simplicity of the specification saved a lot of time. We skipped the normal reiterative development cycle.”
The main obstacle to implementation was unclean source data. As the BI system was implemented, anomalies were resolved and the numbers balanced so as to provide reliable front-end information.
Wetherlys specified 17 measures that stores could use to manage their business. These cover key performance management indicators such as gross profit, percentage margin, outstanding orders and store turnover and expenses. The merchandising tool ensures that buyers are fully aware of the current status of all products in the stores, and on transit to fulfil customer orders.
The application is based on a web-client, with all stores linked via the Internet to the central QlikView server. The system was rolled out first to head office and regional managers and then to branch managers, with each manager having separate access controls and executives able to obtain a high-level view of the QlikView key dials.
“We can now easily see numbers that were not available before,” says Avrabos. “We are already using key dials and performance management indicators that show which branches in a region are selling above or below their peers and how they compare against the company average.
“At store level, we can identify average spend per customer and break down performance by sales person. Instead of spending a whole day trying to locate problems, we can quickly identify problem areas and immediately act to remedy them.”“EnterpriseWorx worked very closely with us from day one,” says Aberdeen.
“We evaluated the risks together and resolved them immediately without delaying the project. Their knowledge and understanding of Wetherlys as a business and of the retail sector as a whole is immense. We were on a tight budget and timeline, and the whole project was rolled out in under four months.”
Wetherlys plans to soon move into Phase II of the project, identifying additional key measures as users demand more information and insights to assist them to run their stores optimally.