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Retail Technology, Retail technology News

Lakeland stays ahead with Sanderson

Thursday August 12 2010

Lakeland, the kitchenware and homeware specialist, has been supported for several years by reliable and innovative partner, the retail management software supplier, Sanderson

Lakeland, the kitchenware and homeware specialist, has been supported for several years by reliable and innovative partner, the retail management software supplier, Sanderson

 

Lakeland signLakeland began in Windermere in 1963, when animal feed salesman, Alan Rayner decided to provide farmers with polythene bags for packing poultry. And since 1974, when he handed the business to his sons, it has grown year-on-year, and today holds a leading market position as a £130m- plus, 1,700-employee organisation.

 

Nowadays, the kitchenware and homeware specialist is a true multichannel retailer, with 46 stores throughout the UK and a thriving mail order business, which produces as many as 18 catalogues each year and despatches 6,000 parcels every day to fulfil orders placed via the web, call centre and post.

 

Lakeland’s ‘unique selling point’ is simple, but highly effective: “We pride ourselves on selling innovative and creative products, and we aim to ensure that any customer making contact with us – through any of our sales channels – is delighted with the Lakeland shopping experience,” explained Lakeland operations director, Gary Marshall. “We believe this formula earns us customer loyalty and perhaps more importantly, they will tell their family and friends about our brand.”

 

Long-term technology relationship

 

Lakeland has been a customer of retail management software supplier Sanderson for many years, having implemented the Retail-J electronic point-of-sale (EPoS) solution back in 2003. What started out as a conventional customer-supplier relationship has progressed significantly and the two organisations now work very closely together: “Sanderson is very much a strategic partner,” Marshall confirmed.

 

Sanderson has just completed an upgrade for Lakeland’s Retail-J system, which “went in like a dream,” according to Marshall. The Retail-J EPoS system is used in every store and is integrated fully with Lakeland’s central business systems. “We decided to adopt a strategy of linking to best of breed, and Retail-J is undoubtedly best- of-breed for point of sale,” said Marshall. “One of the key advantages of this system is its richness of functionality.”

 

Lakeland is also jointly developing additional Retail-J functionality with Sanderson, which will make home delivery and delivery-to-store services available to retail customers through the point of sale systems: “If an item should be unavailable in store or the customer prefers the item to be delivered to their home or collected in store, the system will place an order on the warehouse and issue a receipt to the customer. The order will then either be delivered to home through our mail order operation or delivered to store for customer collection – we will then contact the customer to advise them when the item arrives in store. This will all be offered through the till system.”

 

In addition, the system’s promotional capability has been a major benefit to Lakeland: “The promotions engine is very strong and that gives us differentiation in terms of what we can offer the customer,” said Marshall.The EPoS solution incorporates a multimedia playlist facility, which enables promotional videos to be played to customers at the till.

 

Added multimedia capabilities

 

“When we first implemented this system, one of our ‘vision’ requirements was to have the ability to play videos to customers at the point of sale,” Marshall continued. Lakeland was the first customer to implement Retail-J’s promotional playlist functionality. The video serves to whet the customer’s appetite until the actual sale starts, when the screen clears and the customer is presented with the transaction information. Over the years Lakeland has continued to improve and develop this facility: “We have to make the most of the opportunity to promote products to our customer, which may encourage them to make a last-minute purchase. This functionality has been extremely successful for us.”

 

The video playlist is updated regularly to reflect sales priorities. The playlist can be tailored for each store, although Lakeland currently provides one list for all. Importantly, the company can create new playlists containing video, images or other presentations without requiring any intervention from Sanderson.

 

This multimedia playlist is just one example of the numerous joint developments that Lakeland and Sanderson have worked on. Another is the retailer’s voucher programme: Sanderson has developed voucher functionality to feed from point of sale to Lakeland’s central system. Vouchers are sold through any channel, and it is critical for Lakeland that redemption information is transmitted swiftly. Now, as soon as a voucher is redeemed in store, within seconds that voucher is deemed invalid through any other channel. Currently, the vouchers are Lakeland’s own paper versions, but Retail-J supports electronic gift cards and Marshall says he is currently considering this option.

 

Benefiting from retail IT expertise

 

Lakeland benefits from the retail software expertise of Sanderson. “They certainly understand their market,” added Marshall. “They understand what retailers want and they strive very hard to deliver.They are very effective at what they do. It’s a partnership that we value because we know they will respond and deliver what they promise.” He says the two organisations consult closely on future plans: “Where appropriate, we share our future plans with them and we work closely on new store openings.”

 

The information flow is two-way and Lakeland receives regular updates from the Sanderson team regarding all developments. “We have regular reviews at various levels within the organisation – it is very positive and proactive,” he said. Beyond these, Sanderson also spends time with Lakeland to share

its knowledge, presenting new modules, trends and ideas to Marshall and his team so that they can assess and decide if they are of interest to Lakeland.

 

Lakeland service“Our EPoS system is very good,” confirmed Marshall. “It does exactly what we want and the great thing is that the system has a development roadmap, which we have the opportunity to feed into. That’s very important to us.” As a flourishing retailer, Lakeland is also committed to growing revenues from all routes to market: “We’re not favouring one channel over any other. We aim to provide a range of channels to market for our customers, which is why we publish many new catalogues, continue to develop our e-commerce platform and to invest in new stores; both refits and new locations,” he added.

 

There is also room for expansion beyond the home market – Lakeland has its sights set further afield and has just opened its first store in the Middle East, in Dubai, which is operated by a franchise partner.

 

From its beginnings with agricultural plastic wrappers, through to pots, pans and even pop-up gazebos, Lakeland’s success has relied on its ability to keep one step ahead of the market – in terms of technology development and its innovative products.