Equipment failure on your router, utility work outside, weather conditions, and even high web traffic can lead to the temporary disruption of internet connections. This disruption can create chaos if these connectivity blips affect your ability to process customer transactions. Retailers that rely exclusively on cloud POS systems can find themselves unable to complete sales when the system falls offline for any reason.
That was the problem facing Affordables Apparel. Based in historic Charleston, South Carolina, with seven regional locations mostly concentrated in resort areas like Hilton Head and Pawleys Island, "always-on" internet connections are far from guaranteed. When even a slight hiccup prevents customers from completing transactions, they tend not to stick around to see how long the outage will last.
“When most people think about little temporary disruptions in internet service, they think of minor inconvenience,” said Jane Calfee, IT specialist at Affordables Apparel. “Multiply the possibility of disruption by seven, and that’s how often we were experiencing an issue at one of our seven locations. And we discovered quickly that most customers leave the store without making a purchase instead of waiting for the system to come back online.”
Getting Out of the Cloud Back to Terra Firma
Even though transactions were processed in the cloud, all of Affordables Apparel’s locations operated as islands without any data sharing between them. “We didn’t want to rely on internet connectivity anymore to complete every sale,” said Calfee, “but we were definitely seeking a true multistore solution that could integrate sales and inventory across our entire chain of locations.”
Those issues led Affordables owner Lyndon Amick and his team to Celerant Technology’s Command Retail POS platform. The on-premise platform decoupled transactions from the internet while strong integration gave Affordables the interconnectivity that it needed to view inventory levels across physical locations and process returns from different stores, vastly improving the shopping experience for customers.
“Service is a primary aspect of the Affordables Apparel value proposition, and Command Retail gave us the technology that we needed to drive improved delivery of our exemplary service and experience promise to shoppers.”
Visibility into the Business
The data isolation of each Affordables location created another problem for the business: it was extremely time consuming to view aggregate sales data and enter new inventory into the system. With Command Retail, daily sales reports and inventory counts can be generated instantly for the entire chain.
With this system, Affordables Apparel can enter a new SKU into the database one time and the product information becomes available to every location. The platform also allows tracking of the inventory to see which stores are selling more and what availability every location has at any given time. With the true multistore database Command Retail offers, Affordables can now view a customer’s spending habits across the enterprise in one click rather than pulling data from each store separately and have to spend time to put it together.
Service With a Smile
Coming from an environment where service is key to success, Affordables Apparel expected similar service levels from its technology partner. “With so many locations that each had their own product IDs for the same SKU, our five month long implementation process from our former POS to Command Retail was time consuming,” said Calfee. “Through it all, the team at Celerant proved to be an amazing partner and saw us through to the end with spectacular service. The training our team received and the ability to re-view the training sessions whenever necessary enabled our team to train our staff quickly and effectively.”
Not all team members at Affordable are technically inclined, so having a system that is user-friendly with strong after implementation support was key. “Exemplary service from Celerant continues, with on going support for daily operations." added Calfee. Whenever a team member faces an operational issue, she is empowered to connect directly with technical support to resolve it.
With holistic visibility into sales data and inventory levels, Affordables Apparel team members now spend their time delivering service and value to their customers. And the formula is working: Affordables Apparel just opened its eighth location and Celerant Technology will be there for its ninth, tenth, and many more into the future.
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