Sport Chalet has improved customer service and achieved better inventory visibility by implementing a cross-channel order management system. The system uses “save the sale” functionality to enhance the customer’s shopping experience, improve efficiencies in the store and support the sporting-goods retailer’s growing e-commerce channel.
The software tool deployed by Sport Chalet -- Epicor Retail Enterprise Selling -- allows retailers to sell merchandise and satisfy customer demand from anywhere within the enterprise in real-time, from the point or sale or e-commerce site. It offers an enterprise view of inventory and a unified view of the customer, and combines a real-time inventory locator and configurable order manager to integrate inventory and transaction processing of multiple sales channels.
“When we saw this product we knew we had to have it,” said Ted Jackson, CIO, Sport Chalet, La Canada, Calif., which operates 55 stores. “Prior to implementing the Enterprise Selling solution, our sales associates would have to call around to multiple stores to locate product. It was a cumbersome task, and if customer patience grew thin, we risked losing the sale.”
Initially, the chain piloted the solution across six stores, working closely with its operations team to put fulfillment rules in place, develop process documentation, train sales associates, tweak register configurations, and track results. The system was then rolled out to all store locations. Midway through the first holiday season, Sport Chalet was averaging more than 200 Enterprise Selling orders a day.
“Our initial rollout focused on store-to-store exchange, and it was a big success,” said Renee Hansen, manager of store systems, Sport Chalet. “The feedback we received from sales associates was that the system was very intuitive. The process of ringing up sales is basically the same as before; now they just have a few decision points along the way, such as whether to ship-to-home or arrange for a store pick-up.”
Sport Chalet subsequently opted to make the distribution center a key fulfillment site and integrated Enterprise Selling with the distribution center’s warehouse management system to pull inventory from there first. The retailer soon began experiencing new efficiencies, as the distribution center became the starting point for the Enterprise Selling process. If items cannot be fulfilled from there, the request is routed to the store within closest proximity of the customer.
The chain then decided to use Enterprise Selling to optimize yet another channel: its Web site. Up until March, the e-commerce site had been managed by a third party from orders to inventory, to fulfillment. When Sport Chalet decided to bring the site in-house, they also needed to support inventory and order fulfillment. Folding e-commerce into the Enterprise Selling process was a seamless effort for the IT team as Enterprise Selling was already integrated to the warehouse and stores for fulfillment purposes.
“We applied the process to our Web site in late March, and we’re thrilled with how we can service our online shoppers utilizing the same applications our store personnel were already using for improved in-store customer service” Hansen said. “Right now, we fulfill a third of our Web orders from the distribution center and two-thirds directly from stores, which is significant. And, while there are now more channels, products and logistics to manage, we haven’t had to increase staff due to the efficiencies Epicor’s system provides.”
It was initially thought that Enterprise Selling would have the biggest impact on moving out clearance merchandise, but that has proved to be untrue. The more important results have to do with improved employee productivity, and improved margins by addressing demand and maximizing inventory turns. Customer satisfaction levels remain high as needs are quickly met and shoppers are assured with more than a guess when their products will arrive.
“The retail landscape is changing, and with the down economy the shift is even more severe as shoppers tighten budgets and retailers consolidate or close doors,” Jackson said. “With Enterprise Selling, we’re saving sales and tapping inventories that might not otherwise move as fast and showing our customers we’ll go the extra mile to ensure they get exactly what they want.”