Advances In Technology Mean Accurate Reporting Of Stock Levels And Value For Beaverbrooks

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INFORMATION: Free information is available from Peak Technologies on the subject in this story. Click here to request a copy

In the wake of the Shell over estimated stock assets fiasco, where the company misrepresented the financial worth of its core assets; its pretty obvious why accurate stock auditing and reporting is critical for business, particularly when getting it wrong has far reaching implications. None more so than for the retailer, where counting stock in the stores has been both essential and costly. Like the stock itself, the costs can be counted in many ways, but mostly stock auditing is time consuming, resource hungry, potentially inaccurate and all too often, too slow to be truly meaningful. For all of these reasons, retailers are constantly tasked to be on the look out for ways to improve the stock auditing process. So when retailers opt for the very latest in technology, time and tedium are turned on their heads, costs are reduced and accuracy is increased.

So what does it take to turn a rather expensive and labour intensive process into a more cost efficient machine that delivers real benefits to the business? While it may be a little off-pat to suggest all things troublesome are oh so easily remedied by the deployment of technology, stock auditing is, in fact, one of those areas that can be transformed by the seamless use of technology throughout a supply chain. Whether the problem concerns fast moving lines, difficult to spot stock shrinkage or horrendous inaccuracies, todays retailer can implement a technology based solution which, when all is said and done, offers improvements across the board. Also, the automation of the stock auditing process can be invaluable, when plans for expansion are on the table.

Although expansion isnt the sole reason why Beaverbrooks, one of the UKs leading jewellery chains, first implemented its automated stock auditing process using PEAK Technologies Nucleus IS - Stock Audit solution, it will, claims the Company, help ease the process of growing from 52 stores today, to 75 by 2010. Beaverbrooks is a long established quality purveyor of fine jewellery, with a head office in the north west of England, near Blackpool; and since the 1920s, has remained a successful, privately owned, limited company which has gone from strength to strength, whereby today its objective is to be within a 30 minute drive of its target customer. Moreover, it is easy to see why a jewellery chain such as Beaverbrooks, leaves nothing to chance as far as its supply chain, logistics and the movement of goods, is concerned.

Unlike other multiple retailers, the Beaverbrooks process has some additional elements which are fairly unique, yet essential to the smooth operation of the organisation. For example, all diamonds are hand picked by Beaverbrooks chairman; thereafter and before being set, each and every diamond has to be accounted for and logged. Naturally, all of the diamonds selected are categorised and logged on to the central computer system, before being shipped to one of our designated suppliers and of course, when we receive the finished items, we are then in a position to cross check, and update the system. This gives us a full account of our inventory, no matter what stage of production it is at, said Patrick Walker, IT manager at Beaverbrooks.

However, Nucleus IS Stock Audit is primarily used to manage the in-store stock audits. Before we implemented Nucleus IS Stock Audit the auditing process was solely paper-based, whereby each stock audit was a major job, taking up to two weeks to complete. Whats more, as soon as the audit was finished it was out of date consequently, we could never really be 100% accurate at any given time. Nucleus IS Stock Audit has completely revolutionised the process, which now takes a maximum of two to three days in total and means that we can be assured of our stock position on demand, said Patrick Walker.

Furthermore, because we have a fully integrated system, our stock position is centrally updated 30 minutes after we have completed the in-store stock take, which all in all means that we are guaranteed to report accurate stock levels and value.

Using Nucleus IS - Stock Audit, Beaverbrooks manages its 5,000 product lines by capturing data at the warehouse and at each of its 52 outlets. The Nucleus IS - Stock Audit solution has been universally designed to cut the cost and disruption of auditing, while delivering accurate results on the spot. Nucleus IS Stock Audit is a configurable solution, with the flexibility to meet the exact needs of all retail applications, particularly where the demand for accuracy of audit data is imperative to the ongoing financial stability of the organisation. Nucleus IS Stock Audit also offers the advantage of allowing users to immediately identify and amend any discrepancies in product quantity information.

At Beaverbrooks the stock taking and tracking of individual items is a continual process for warehouse staff; stores experience an average of two full audits per annum as well as regular monthly counts. As with any other retailer we keep abreast of fashion trends and make sure that stock is supplied according to local customer preferences. Therefore, each store has a tailored product range of between 2,000 and 3,000 items, continued Patrick Walker. However, its the high price, high value items which Beaverbrooks sees as its main concern. Although we suffer minor stock shrinkage, our big issue is making sure that nothing is sold incorrectly. For example, if a high value item is inadvertently miss-sold we will end up with an inaccurate stock position on our central system, which could have adverse financial implications. To overcome this, as items are scanned at the point of sale, a picture is presented to sales staff, allowing staff to keep the system and sales records accurate. Clearly, the opportunity to miss-sell an item of jewellery will have much broader financial implications than say miss-selling a can of baked beans!

Accuracy is essential and as well as point of sale verification, we ensure automatic replenishment by polling each store every night. This allows us to maintain a central view of sales and ensure that all stores have the right stock at the right time. Beaverbrooks makes deliveries to its outlets at least twice a week, however, during peak times, such as Christmas, the system and logistics are ramped up to make daily deliveries. The hub of its management and supply logistics relies upon Alphameric, a commercially available software application specifically developed for retailers. We use Alphameric as our core management system and one of the great features of PEAKs Nucleus IS Stock Audit solution is that it comes with a proven interface to the Alphameric software.

Beaverbrooks first introduced Nucleus IS Stock Audit back in 1998 and today it has equipped its seven area managers and in-store staff with the Nucleus IS Stock Audit solution which utilises Symbol Technologies PDT 3100 mobile computers to capture data, which in turn is securely transferred directly to the Alphanumeric database from a laptop computer. Store staff are responsible for carrying out a physical count at least once a month. Symbols PDT 3100 is the bar code data capture industrys most popular portable data terminal owing to its high level of performance, robustness and reliability in demanding environments. It allows users to customise the solution as per their requirements whereby users can select any type of display, alphanumeric keypads and either batch or wireless communications using Symbols Wireless network infrastructure. The product is specifically suitable for the retail environment wherein there is a high requirement for efficiency and accuracy to shelf price audits, price checking, order entry, inventory control etc.

For us, implementing Nucleus IS Stock Audit was a no brainer; it has proven to be the best system for us, and because it is totally integrated with our central and in-store systems, we have a solid platform which is virtually future proof and allows us to streamline the support of new stores as they are established. With Nucleus IS Stock Audit we are able to maintain accuracy, replenish stores in time and keep abreast of customer trends and regional preferences.

At the end of the day, Beaverbrooks and other PEAK Technologies customers should not encounter the problems of inaccurate reporting of business assets; which after all can never be underestimated. So, whether the problem is identifying and troubleshooting stock shrinkage or an overwhelming need to reduce costs and increase productivity there is a technological solution to fit the bill.

INFORMATION: Free information is available from Peak Technologies on the subject in this story. Click here to request a copy

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