"It is not just about what's my sales, my stock, what's my margins, and what is happening with products. We are actually quite a way beyond that. We still do that obviously. We are retailers, we sell things. But we are using it far more embedded in other areas," Rowland says.
He elaborates on this with a few examples.
"Probably towards the end of 2012, WS decided they were going to bring in a count mechanism, which was based on thermal imaging, so they can understand how many people were coming into the store.
"So what we did was we took the information from the counters and fed that to Qlikview, and then we took transaction counts and fed that to Qlikview. And we very quickly managed to create a series of dashboards that showed by hour, by day, to store level, what was going on in terms of counts through the door and the conversion rate of that."
With these reports the group was able to analyse conversion trends, and target conversion within particular stores.
"We designed the whole thing within my team, and we showed the central operations team what we had done. It was all dashboards, not tables, all graphical. And at the end of it, the GM of operations stood up and said, 'I could kiss you,'" recounts Rowland.
Now the team has not only annualised the process to track year-on-year conversion trends but also worked with regional managers and integrated data on labour to help identify spots where more or less labour is required in order to ensure the best conversion rates.
"Another example is click and collect - a retail term for when you go online, and say you want to purchase a product and then collect the purchase from a store. You don't want it sent to your home. Now, last year we were given a very short time frame at Warehouse Stationery for putting in click and collect, right after the company became an authorised reseller of Apple products.
Knowing that a full-scale system to enable click and collect, the team decided to use Qlikview to manage the process centrally. By this, all data from all relevant systems are fed back to Qlikview which generates dashboards that can be used to view stock movements and collections in a central manner.
"So it allowed us to react quickly to a situation we weren't expecting. And it has really given us the flexibility to be able to move and do things on the fly. Now this is all stuff that we didn't think of when we put it in. We were only thinking of sales, stock and margins when we put it in. But this has made a fundamental difference to us," says Rowland.
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