City Hardware is a family-run business, originally founded in London in 1964. The business specialises in DIY and hardware products for the public and trade customers, with hundreds of customers visiting the store every day. Three generations of the family have been involved in running the business, and it is brothers Paul and Simon who currently own the business.
Paul and Simon pride themselves on their extensive range of stock, with over 10,000 products on offer throughout the store. However, with such high levels of stock they struggled to keep track of it all, or find anything quickly. This issue resulted in long wait times for customers even for small low value purchases, and this led to a loss of customers when they didn’t have time to wait. Without any stock management system or stock-taking procedure, Paul and Simon found it impossible to know what products were in stock, and which products were running low without manually searching for them. Ordering stock was also manual, resulting in an inefficient and time consuming process. It was impossible for staff to find sales and customer information without trawling through extensive paperwork folders. The store was struggling to remain profitable, and with 70% of the DIY industry dominated by superstores, they were unable to hold their own against fierce competition.
After realisation that their business was becoming unprofitable, Paul and Simon approached the TV station Channel 4 about being involved in popular show Mary Portas Secret Shopper. In the series, watched by several million people every week, Mary aims to bring her expertise to help a range of retailers who are in need of some fresh ideas to transform the customer experience and their businesses. In each episode Mary evaluates every aspect of the business from shop floor to stock room, and armed with her findings she shows the business owners and staff exactly where they are going wrong, and what changes need to made.
“The best system in the country.”
Mary’s not just a TV presenter, she’s an internationally recognised retail consultant who became a member of the board at Harvey Nichols by age 30, was appointed by UK Prime Minister David Cameron to lead an independent review into the future of Britain's high streets; and has now been named the 6th most influential person in fashion by fashion industry journal Drapers. With her vast experience she understood that City Hardware needed to implement best-in-class inventory management and POS. For this she turned to Epos Now.
With Epos Now, Paul and Simon are able to view the profit margins for each of their 10,000 products, quickly add and edit products, and most importantly can keep an accurate track of their stock, avoiding laborious stock-takes which would take them days with the amount of stock that they carry. Epos Now software is cloud-based, which means that this information can be accessed from any device, anywhere in the world. This gives Paul and Simon peace of mind when they are not on-site as they can keep an eye on every aspect of their business.
Staff at City Hardware can now use the Epos Now system to sell or price-check their stock instantly. The system allows staff to instantly look up stock levels from the till point, so more time can be spent building a rapport with customers, and less time is spent searching for stock. Paul and Simon also receive automated alerts when products are low in stock, which ensures best-sellers are never out of stock. This feature automatically raises purchase orders, which can be emailed directly to suppliers through the Epos Now Back Office. This ensures the brothers are always aware of which stock they do or don’t have, so they can serve their customers efficiently, improve the customer experience and encourage loyalty.
Epos Now’s customer management system allows staff to quickly add customer details when they make a purchase. It’s important for the business that they collect customer email addresses, as these can be used to send marketing emails announcing new stock, promotions, and company announcements. Research suggests that every email address acquired is worth £84.50 in future business. Paul and Simon had never thought about this method of marketing before. Additionally, City Hardware has a large amount of trade customers, so it’s vital for Paul and Simon that there is the option for these customers to pay on account, and for staff to quickly create invoices, while continuing to maintain accurate stock levels. Epos Now manages all of this for them, which allows the business to efficiently cater to trade customers, as well as the public.
Mary Portas’ suggestion of introducing an Epos Now system to City Hardware has helped the business to modernise its processes, which has increased overall efficiency and profitability. Since implementing Epos Now, City Hardware’s turnover has increased by 35% due to their tighter stock management and their improved visibility of their business.
“The competition is so fierce between multi-million pound DIY superstores and independents, that it's vital SMEs have access to the tools they need to modernise their businesses.”