M.Fredric Gains Inventory Control Through New POS System, Part 2
In the second and final part of this two-part interview with Fred Levine, co-founder of M.Fredric, a California-based apparel retailer, Fred discusses the primary benefit his buisiness is seeing as a result of implementing a new point-of-sale (POS) system across its business, as well as his advice for other retailers that are in the market for a new POS system. (Here's part one of the interview.)
Total Retail: What do you find most valuable about working with NCR's Counterpoint POS system?
Fred Levine: By far, the most outstanding feature of the system is this money-maker for me, and that is the ability to use any mobile device to get into my system. I'm one of the buyers at the company as well as one of the owners, so I can be at a tradeshow in London, in my backyard, a vendor's showroom in New York or Los Angeles, and I can look up my selling, I can see how products have performed from this particular vendor, and I can make judgements right on the spot. I don't have to do what I did in the past, and that's take notes, go back to my office, sit at my desktop and anlyze the numbers to see if it's a good buy to make or, if it's a line that didn't perform for me, not to make. That's the way it used to be, and that was very time consuming and took a number of steps to make a purchase. Whereas now I can do it right on the go, place my order or not place my order because I have information right at my fingertips on my iPhone. That's the biggest difference between the new POS system that Counterpoint offers and what we've had from Counterpoint in the past.
The new system pays for itself immediately. For what you pay for a point-of-sale system, especially if you have a number of stores, could be considerable. However, if you can sharpen your buying, reduce your markdowns and be a more efficient business, within a matter of months you can pay for the system just by not making the mistakes or taking the time to make decisions. Information is money; that's what the mobile reporting means to me.
TR: How has that value translated into business benefits for M.Fredric?
FL: There are a number of elements that improve our business. I consider the NCR Counterpoint system the heart of our body. It's where we receive the blood of our business, which is information. Any business, any owner needs information, needs feedback on how things are performing to know whether to invest more in certain areas and less in others. This system gives me in a very simple, easy-to-read and easy-to-understand way information about how inventory is performing. It's information that I can get on the go, saving me a tremendous amount of time, and it also gives me a better understanding of what categories of inventory are performing best. I can compare categories against each other, I can compare them from one year to the next so that I can see how products are trending. I can see how employees are performing based on their hourly sales.
Having information, and having information in an efficient, easy-to-deal with way is the name of the game. Time is money. If you can accomplish these things, which I am now doing, in a fraction of the time it took before, then I can spend my time doing other things and figuring out other ways to improve my business other than just simply analyzing long, cumbersome reports from my desk. It tightens up our whole business.
TR: What's your advice for retailers that may be looking for a new POS system?
FL: Retailing now is a real challenge. Times are still very, very challenging. You have to be very careful about where you spend your dollars because they're limited. When the economy is robust and consumer confidence is flourishing, you can do just about anything. But when it's not, and we're still coming off of that recession and consumers aren't spending the ways they used to, us retailers have to be very careful with every penny we spend. Spending it on a POS system that is really the structure of your business — it's the information highway — is the place to spend it. That's where you will get information to react to while reducing the amount of waste and mistakes.
I don't think you can better bang for your buck than choosing the right POS system. If you have e-commerce, if you have marketing needs, public relations needs where you need to show what your business looks like on a beautiful website or sell products on your website in addition to your brick-and-mortar stores, then even moreso the point-of-sale system is just so highly valuable and such an important place to spend money. To me, there's no better remedy to hard times than an information-gathering source that's top-notch.