Case Study: Candy Store Manages Growth With RMS
Their name really says it all, IT’SUGAR is all about candy and sweet treats. With 20 IT’SUGAR stores plus 15 other attractions, including FAO Schwartz, Toys R Us Times Square and Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, IT’SUGAR is a retailing business that manages 9728 stock-keeping units (SKUs) of confectionery, gifts and other merchandise, and issues up to 4000 purchase orders per year. These numbers are only a snapshot of the business as of late 2011 – a business that is growing at the amazing rate of 50% per year.
With plans to open as many as ten new stores in 2012, as well as updating and refreshing inventory to keep pace with sales and customer preferences, IT’SUGAR needed a reliable, responsive retail management system that could translate point-of-sale transactions into actionable business information for corporate management, virtually and instantly.
“We track and manage inventory from our corporate offices in Florida on a daily basis,” Butch Smith, new information technology manager for IT’SUGAR, explained, “but we don’t work from warehouses. Everything is drop shipped directly to the stores, so having a system that gives us instantaneous access to sales data lets our buyers make accurate decisions based on facts rather than gut feelings. That saves a lot of man-hours, since we can’t really be telephoning 30 stores every day to find out what’s selling well and what’s not moving.”
The company also needed to keep up with shifting customer tastes throughout the year. “Our business is very seasonal,” Butch explained. “Our bread and butter runs from June through September, comprising nearly 50% of our business, while Christmas gift purchases are becoming an increasingly larger share of annual sales. Because of that seasonality, there is a lot of variability in what sells at different times of the year, so our focus is less on inventory turns and more on the new lines we bring in.”
Butch moved to add a reliable on-call services team with POSitive Technology. Then he set about preparing IT’SUGAR’s business systems to support the company’s growth strategies. He chose to replace their existing system with the Microsoft Dynamics retail management system (RMS) – with some needed enhancements.
“We needed a method of generating multiple purchase orders for one supplier for all of our stores, but RMS wasn’t geared for looking at suppliers as the source of things,” Butch said. “When we explained to POSitive Technology, they were quick to make changes to support the way we do business.”
Several years later, IT’SUGAR has now begun migrating to Microsoft Dynamics GP, with OpSuite™ for financial management. “Dynamics GP will interact with OpSuite rather than having it interact directly with every store,” he explained. “That will allow us to see every sale within three to five seconds of the transaction.”
Most IT’SUGAR stores run on HP RP5700 Point of Sale (POS) PC solutions with a touch screen monitor, HP pole displays, Epson thermal printer and Magellan scale. The low cost and interchangeability of components helps keep stores online despite the rugged retail environment, often using spare parts bought from other retailers in the same shopping mall. And because OpSuite runs as a hosted application on OpSuite’s own servers, that’s equipment Butch doesn’t have to backup and maintain.
“And in the stores”, Butch said, “training operators is easy – an important consideration for a chain opening locations as far away as the Cayman Islands. Hands down, the best feature is how it’s incredibly user-friendly,” Butch observed. “We can have someone ringing up customers after just 10 minutes of training.”
The solution also saves on headquarters’ expenses. “The cost of entry for Retail Management System and OpSuite is low , and the value of working with POSitive Technology is huge,” he said. “Without this solution in place, we would definitely be looking at another person on staff. We would also require additional hardware and more Internet bandwidth. All of those savings help bring the costs down, and allows us to open more stores.”
Butch said his partnership with POSitive Technology is helping IT’SUGAR meet its growth goals. “It’s super quick to bring new stores online,” he explained. “We can go on site and get the equipment installed, configured, and tested in about two days. All that’s left then is to bring in the candy, so we can move into a new space on a Tuesday and open the store on Friday.”
Even more remarkably, POSitive Technology has been able to help IT’SUGAR meet sudden changes and expedited schedules. When one recent store opening was accelerated by eight weeks, POSitive Technology was able to shave four full weeks off the hardware’s usual delivery time. “They really stepped up and provided us with what we needed in two weeks rather than six,” Butch said. “That kind of support has been a huge help.”
About POSitive Technology
POSitive Technology is a leading provider of retail technology solutions featuring one-stop shopping for retailers that need a complete solution. Their offerings consist of software, hardware, payment processing, security, internet service, deployment and installation from a single product. POSitive’s mission is to integrate proven industry solutions into the customer’s environment and give them the tools to effectively manage their business with ease.
Founded in 1999, POSitive Technology is a privately held company headquartered outside Washington, DC with offices in Arizona, California, Chicago, Florida, Texas, New York, North Carolina and Washington State.
With retail locations ranging in size from 2000 to 7000 square feet, IT’SUGAR is the original “department store of sweets” where you’ll experience an unpredictable sense of excitement and wonder along with the sights, smells and especially the tastes of all your favorite treats. Specializing in candy from chocolates to lollipops to mints to gummy bears and candy-inspired fashion apparel, accessories and novelty gift items, IT’SUGAR is a land of make believe come true for the stylish and young at heart; an ultra chic, super sweet candy-land adventure. The concepts of joy, taste, color and sound are at the heart of IT’SUGAR candy emporiums.