By  on February 7, 2007

A new integrated retail service aimed at midsize retailers boosted sales at the $14 million company Just Sports of Mesa, Ariz. The near real-time sales reporting capability of Retail Teamwork let Just Sports respond quickly to trends and helped ring in a 25 percent increase in sales over the holiday season.

"It gave us an edge we were never able to have," said Just Sports owner Kevin Palmer. The company operates 14 stores of 1,500 to 2,000 square feet each in regional malls in Arizona and Colorado. The stores sell jerseys, hats, and other men's, women's and children's apparel with team logos.

Like any other retailer, Just Sports has to be concerned with fashion and trends, said Palmer. But in addition, there is the added unknown of which teams will be popular and how they will do throughout any given sports season. And because so many residents of Arizona are originally from somewhere else, many different teams have followers, he added.

The 20-year-old retailer was looking for a new point-of-sale system to replace its ancient software, which ran on DOS instead of Windows. Just Sports considered Retail Pro and Microsoft's Retail Management System, among others, and ended up becoming a beta tester for Retail Teamwork because of its near real-time sales reporting capability.

Retail Teamwork of Clearwater, Fla., was started by Michael Mauerer a little over a year ago. Mauerer founded Retail Pro and was involved with QuickBooks Point of Sale. The Retail Teamwork software is based on Microsoft Dynamics, the suite of business software that includes point of sale, but has been altered to work for businesses with five to 500 stores. The software runs on any PC and includes point of sale, inventory, pricing, transfer, financial, supply chain, and customer information. The service costs $100 to $200 per month per location.

Just Sports started its rollout in June and was finished by the end of the month. During the most recent National Football League season, a game was coming up where the Steelers were playing the Cardinals. The day before the game, Palmer could watch from headquarters and see which locations were selling the most Steelers merchandise. By midday, Palmer knew which stores could take which merchandise and how much.In the past, Palmer would have to wait until 2 a.m. to get sales data. By 3 a.m., a crew would be in the warehouse pulling stock and loading the trucks. But by the time the trucks arrived at the stores in the morning, they were already open for business. During busy seasons, employees couldn't restock until night, which meant a two-day delay.

Now the warehouse crew comes in the evening, and trucks are loaded and ready to go by 1 a.m. By 7 a.m., the trucks have already made their deliveries, and store staff stock the shelves before doors open.

Palmer estimates the new software has helped Just Sports realize tens of thousands of dollars in sales it otherwise would not have had. "Over time it definitely helped us optimize our inventory and increase sales," he said. "There are multiple factors but the software definitely helped us to optimize the sellthrough of products."

Palmer, who said he hopes to open an online store soon, said Christmas sales were also up because the company has been doing more marketing. What's more, the 25 percent increase during the holiday season came on top of an already good Christmas the year before. "So to do an increase on top of that is very good," he said.

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