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International sports apparel company becomes largest customer of retail IT management and till systems provider rolling out to 7,000 Chinese outlets in just four months to provide streamlined stock management

Erke is an international sports brand and part of the Chinese company HongXing Erke Group. The brand specialises in sports apparel and has sponsored major sports icons within the Chinese Olympic team. Erke was also the official kit sponsor for the Korean Democratic People's Republic (DPR) national football team.

The company recently rolled out the retail management and electronic-point-sale (EPoS) systems of Eurostop in 7,000 outlets across the People’s Republic of China (PRC), making Erke Eurostop’s largest ever customer. It also makes Erke the first company in China to have such a large number of physical till points in stores.

Scaling systems to meet growth

As a large operator in the sports clothing retail sector, Erke has experienced tremendous growth in the last few years. As it expanded, it outgrew its management systems and needed a scalable system that could cope with a far larger volume of stores. The speed of rollout was important to ensure that all the outlets were up and running quickly and to ensure smooth transition from the old system.

Eurostop worked closely with Erke to manage the rollout and integration of the systems with Erke’s IT infrastructure and EPoS management systems. The IT provider implemented its systems across 4,500 stores and a newly designed e-commerce web presence in a further 2,500 stores in just four months.

Erke is using e-retail, Eurostop’s retail management solution designed specifically for larger retailers, as its head office system.

The provider (comprising a local team in China) worked closely with Erke to install its e-pos software in the stores. Despite their use of a variety of hardware, it was possible to roll the new EPoS software out remotely via a downloadable installation package with a built-in wizard.

The Eurostop web e-pos software is used in the concessions on a variety of devices – laptops, iPads and other tablet PCs – to manage sales of stock, returns and transfers. The 4,500 stores that have the e-pos software installed at till points also have customer loyalty modules, enabling the retailer to identify customer purchase habits and create tailored promotions and offers to regular customers.

Close collaboration pays dividends

For the implementation of e-retail, Eurostop worked closely with Erke’s global IT team and key IT suppliers to integrate it with the organisation’s SAP systems that holds store information and feeds into a global database. Each of Erke’s 28 retail sub-companies use systems integrated to these global systems.

“The UK development and project team played a key part in the integration of e-retail with Erke’s SAP system,” said Roy Meunier, Eurostop overseas support manager. “Not only did we have to work closely with IBM and SAP, we also had to integrate with the previous retail system used at head office, before the transition to SAP.”

The scale of the rollout has required training to be implemented using a ‘train the trainer’ approach. Eurostop provided comprehensive training for the Erke global IT team on the installation process, who have gone on to share their knowledge with the IT specialists in each of the retailer’s 28 sub-companies.

Michael Li, senior project manager for Eurostop Shanghai, commented that he was very impressed with the commitment of Erke’s IT staff to the project.

Erke expects significant efficiencies through tighter stock management across its outlets and more accurate sales performance data through using the Eurostop systems. Forename Lee, Erke project manager, said: “We now have one of the largest estates of tills in the whole of China. Not many companies can match the speed of our implementation. The success of the project has been down to teamwork and a great deal of effort from all parties concerned – IBM, SAP, and Eurostop.”

Richard Loh, Eurostop managing director, added: “We are delighted with the speed and efficiency of the Erke rollout. It clearly demonstrates Eurostop’s capabilities to handle very large installations.”

This story first ran as the cover story of the September/October 2011 issue of Retail Technology magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition or register for the free e-version.

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