Branch owner switches to new merchandise management and checkout system
“We focus on the sales floor and are convinced that the service we offer is unique,” says Olivier Bachmann.
Bachmann is responsible for marketing and human resources at the Swiss company MODE KOFLER. With 14 branches and 150 employees, KOFLER can successfully hold its own in a difficult market. An IT system from the ROQQIO Group has been providing support for one year now.
Olivier Bachmann is happy to reveal the recipe for the brick-and-mortar business in the world of women’s fashion. There are no secret ingredients, but there’s plenty of attention to detail. This includes looking at the synergy between purchasing and sales, an in-house school for their own trainees, a sense of solidarity and software that facilitates in-store sales.
Buyers as a Source of Information
In other fashion stores, the purchasing department may be invisible to the sales staff on account of consistently being on trips, at trade fairs or in the back office. At KOFLER, it’s different: the buyers and the saleswomen work in tandem. The five fashionable, creative buyers are women ranging between 20 and 55 years of age and spend half of their time with their colleagues in the store. Olivier Bachmann:
„The buyers pass their information directly on to the sales staff. This means that all of the staff on the sales floor are not only informed about trends, but also know what has been ordered and when it will arrive.”
On the one hand, the staff from the purchasing department help their colleagues on the shop floor gain background knowledge on the in-store items. “Conversely, the buyers learn more about the customers’ wishes and can take them into account when making their next purchases,” says Bachmann.
The Human Touch
Customers appreciate the fact that the sales team is able to provide them with sound advice. It’s common to receive customer e-mails with praise and compliments, reports Olivier Bachmann. As he puts it, they are pleased that “something like this still exists today”. Many were grateful for the attention they received. This basic attitude, in addition to the demands placed on one’s outward appearance, is laid down in the employee guidelines. Among other things, this means that “KOFLER has strong local roots and wants to perceive, cultivate and fulfil the wishes of its customers in the most precise manner possible”.
For the employees, customer contact is just as important as team spirit. “It’s fun working at KOFLER - we hear this time and again,” says Bachmann. “It’s because of the familial atmosphere.” Employees are expected to identify with the company. However, the company also stands behind its staff and is ready to support them in emergency situations.
Atop the Brick-And-Mortar Field
According to Bachmann, the goal of being at the forefront of brick-and-mortar retail is addressed in every job interview. Employees are expected to be 100% competent with regard to their product range and the individual items. As for the trainees, the demands that are placed on them are also high. The company regularly trains between 15 and 18 young people. Because vocational school curriculum tends to be rather general and, according to Bachmann, “so that our trainees can achieve the best results, we established our own school with our own teacher 12 years ago. For each group of trainees, she places special emphasis on teaching them about textiles and fashion.”
Optimisation: this goal is also relevant to the sales floor. Every month, the purchasing department, branch managers and management meet at the Lucerne headquarters to redefine how the goods are presented in the stores. Sales figures are evaluated and broken down to the individual product groups. For one year now, the company has also been relying on the merchandise management system from the ROQQIO Group.
Technology Transition in Four Months
The business software the company had used for 17 years was replaced about a year ago. Olivier’s brother Patrick Bachmann oversaw the transition - and only had four months to make it happen. Together with his colleagues, Patrick Bachmann, IT administrator and CFO at KOFLER, saw the deadline as an impetus for thorough preliminary work.
“We had to rethink the entire organisation and define new product groups and processes.” With the small timeframe that was available, this was achieved through the human resources provided by ROQQIO as well as the resources within the company itself.
“You have to be prepared for the change beforehand. Once it starts, we don’t have time to do experiments in day-to-day operations.“
Train the Trainer
Proven to be effective at KOFLER, the concept of mutual training was helpful when switching to the new POS systems. IT service provider ROQQIO initially trained Bachmann and two close employees on five test checkouts. They in turn trained all the sales staff, one by one. The POS interface proved to be user-friendly. Bachmann: “When the new cash registers were introduced, operations continued with next to no hiccups.” A particular advantage of the new POS systems quickly became apparent. Patrick Bachmann: “Thanks to real-time data, the online cash registers make it possible for us to always be able to provide customers with up-to-date inventory information - even when there are high levels of internal stock transfer.”
Focus on Sales
The conversion to a completely new merchandise management system was more demanding. “The goods must go to the front” was Bachmann’s motto in the process. The entrepreneurial lifeblood was to be preserved. The fundamental building blocks were deliberately pushed aside at first. “We always concentrated on the essentials during the transition. We asked ourselves, ‘What has to be implemented quickly for operations to be able to continue?’ In addition, there was the support of our IT service provider’s project managers. For a week, they were at our side in the course of regular operations. This allowed activities at head office to carry on nicely.”
Bachmann is also satisfied with the evaluation options for item and sales data via the ROQQIO Group merchandise management system’s data warehouse. Bachmann: “The information system is working very well.”
Everything’s Different, But Better
Overall, one year after the changeover, Patrick Bachmann is satisfied that the goal of carrying out a smooth-as-possible transition has been achieved. KOFLER does not regret the system change. Logistics also gave positive feedback on the new system. “A number of things are different, but simpler,” says Bachmann. Operations have become faster and the organisation leaner. “Today, we achieve more with fewer people.”
While the system is far from being put to full use, they are satisfied. “We are now at a point where we are familiar with the system. We’re having fun with it and discovering new things. The system is now synchronised with people’s workflows.”
About MODE KOFLER
Swiss fashion company since 1852
Headquarters: CH-6002 Lucerne
Locations: Stans, Emmen, Lucerne, Schwyz
Management: Bettina Schoch-Bachmann, Olivier Bachmann, Patrick Bachmann
Divisions: Age and target group-oriented - Modern Woman, Subito, Next, Marken-Outlet