Maple Lake, the retail software vendor that helps plan best-selling ranges for the likes of the Arcadia Group, Ted Baker, ASoS, adidas Group and Levi Strauss, has just released an 'out-of-the-box', pre-configured version of its QuickAssortment merchandise planning solution. The move follows increasing demand among retailers for IT solutions that can be more easily and swiftly adopted into the business, at considerably less cost.
"It can typically take between 12 and 24 months for a retailer to implement new planning technology and see the rewards, this delays the returns and business benefits that the management and end users require," says Bob Jolley, group commercial director at Maple Lake. "By coming up with a pre-configured solution, suitable for the planning needs of most (non-food) retailers, we've been able to cut down implementation times to four or five months, potentially saving a substantial amount in project fees."
Research, in association with the National Retail Federation last year, has shown that retailers are often put-off upgrading and investing in new technology because of the time it can take and headaches and costs involved.
The concept of software vendors selling 'out-of-box' solutions for more mass market appeal isn't a new one. However, Jolley said that Maple Lake has decided not to reduce functionality by cutting bits out or over simplifying, unlike many other solutions. This means retailers are getting exactly the same core software, which can later be adapted and upgraded to take advantage of Maple Lake's continuous product development and to further protect the customer's investment (much like, say, with Apple iTunes).
"It's not a dumbed-down planning solution," he added.
The software works by taking sales data from existing systems to automatically produce a 'hierarchy of needs' that identifies the most profitable lines: whether for individual stores, online or international sales channels. Users can see, at the touch of a button, a forecast of stock and sales and the impact of, say, ordering more A-line dresses, or changing a particular supplier. It shows the ideal product mix and volumes before actually buying or allocating to stores, he said. Alerts can flag up anything likely to be a concern, such as low profit margin items, or missed sales due to stock-outs.
The QuickAssortment 'Out-of-the-box' pre-configured software is available from April 2012, and is priced according to the size and scale of the retailer.