M.Fredric Gains Inventory Control Through New POS System, Part 1
M.Fredric is a California-based apparel retailer that sells its products via nine brick-and-mortar stores and an e-commerce website. Like many omnichannel brands, managing inventory levels in real time to prevent out-of-stocks and overstocks was a challenge for M.Fredric. In addition, a lack of real-time sales data meant buying decisions were delayed, a serious inhibitor for a retailer trying to keep up with rapidly changing fashion trends and consumer demand. In part one of this two-part interview, Fred Levine, co-founder of M.Fredric, talks about how a new retail point-of-sale (POS) system and inventory management software from NCR Counterpoint have helped his business make smarter purchasing decisions.
Total Retail: Prior to working with NCR Counterpoint, how was M.Fredric managing inventory across its stores?
Fred Levine: We started way back in the day. In the early 80s we had a program written for us because there was really nothing to buy for a retailer that wasn’t a department store. We’ve been a believer in receiving information through a point-of-sale system since way back in the day. It was about 17 [years], 18 years ago that we started using the Counterpoint system. We were very happy with the way it worked. It was pretty bulletproof — it didn’t break down, it didn’t hold up business in the stores, and gave us the information we needed to analyze our inventory and really have a good grasp of not only inventory movement, but also employee performance. We had a number of stores, so the POS system was able to coordinate all those stores together and give us very valuable information.
It was just about a couple of years ago that Counterpoint was transitioning into the new era of point-of-sale systems, and we decided to stay with Counterpoint because we were so happy with it over all those many years. M.Fredric is the beneficiary of a system now that’s in the new millennium. It’s a state-of-the-art system that gives us more information and more data than we ever imagined we could get. It gives us the information efficiently, and allows me to operate as a clothing buyer as well as an employer in a fashion that I never imagined I could because the information is at my fingertips.
TR: How will Counterpoint’s POS system be of benefit to M.Fredric’s e-commerce site?
FL: The wonderful thing about the NCR Counterpoint system is that we were able to buy a module for our e-commerce site, enabling us to coordinate our e-commerce business with our brick-and-mortar store business so that the inventory is one in the same. We’re able to work both systems together, whereas before we had a third party running our e-commerce site and we couldn’t mix the two. For example, we couldn’t sell a gift card online that could be redeemed in-store, or take a return in-store for something that was bought online.
Now it’s all one. It’s wonderful that we could simply buy that e-commerce module, and it’s almost like just having one additional store. We don’t have to run it like a separate business. We just launched that a couple of weeks ago, and it seems to be running very smoothly on our site at mfrederic.com. It’s an e-commerce site as well as an informational site. It’s very valuable for me as a growing retailer because real estate people can see what M.Fredric is all about, as well as vendors who have never heard of M.Fredric. For example, they might be out of the country, but go to our website and see the types of clothes that we carry. And since we’re only in the Los Angeles area, consumers have the ability to buy our merchandise without visiting one of our stores.
We’ve had the point-of-sale system running in our stores for about three [months] to four months, so I have some good feedback already with that. The e-commerce site just launched weeks ago. It’s smooth, it’s running well, but I haven’t analyzed some of the information that will be on the e-commerce business.
Look for part two of this interview coming next Wednesday, when Fred Levine answers what he feels are the top business benefits of a POS system, and how those benefits have translated into improved results for M.Fredric.