The digital brand store is valued more and more among our customers as convenience and cost become pillars within successful retail management, so we spoke with Lydia Ploeg, Project Manager at Worldpack, to find out just how far the brand store has come since its inception and what the plans are for its future.
Lydia, tell us a little bit about what the brand store looked like when it first started.
The brand store was a basic online shop when it began. Customers would submit their order online and we would receive an email with the order details on it. But we would then have to manually input the information from the email into our order system. It was a very simple system that made it easier for our customers but not necessarily for us.
When did that change and why?
We were experiencing more and more demand from our customers, which was great, but we needed a better system behind the scenes. In 2015, we created a new brand store that linked partly to our existing software so that we no longer had to manually input order info – the customer’s order spoke directly to our system. It simplified things for us but as demand for functionality from retailers is always growing, in 2019 we changed again to a much more sophisticated system.
What changes did that make and how helpful was it to retailers?
The biggest change was that the system is now fully integrated with our software and those of our customers.
This means that we don’t have to do any manual data entry at all. All the customer data, orders and fulfilment are done digitally and we can sync the brand store with our customers’ enterprise resource planning (ERP) or purchase to pay (P2P) systems so that purchasing is automatically assigned to their finance teams.
Removing manual processes was hugely helpful to retailers because it meant that budgets could be monitored in real-time by head offices, minimising the risk of overspend by individual stores.
How does the brand store help with retailers’ budgets and efficiency?
Our customers love the brand store because it works on two levels. For staff who manage stores, it makes the job of ordering GNFR so much easier. Most stores have no one with a dedicated role for this so it often falls to whoever spots that something is needed. If one member of staff sees that they have run out of paper towels, for example, they can log in and place their order. Then the next day, another member of staff might see that they are out of till rolls, so they can also log in and place their order. Managing GNFR is fast and easy on the online system.
Stores can create favourite lists so that the items they purchase a lot are easily found. We then pool all their orders together and deliver it on a pre-agreed schedule so stores always know when to expect their deliveries. It’s extremely efficient and valued by store colleagues.
But it also works well for retailers’ head offices too. They agree with us what items appear in their brand store, so that there is consistency in available products but also cost management across their brand. It makes it much simpler to control their GNFR budgets and enables easy analysis of product trends (what is being ordered, when it is being ordered and in what quantities) to help for future planning and budgeting.
What about products that don’t appear in the brand catalogue – can retailers access one-off items or new ranges?
I always say that if people need a surfboard for their store, we will get one! We are always available at the end of the phone for items that don’t appear in the online brand store. But if it’s a new product range that the retailer wants to explore, we can work with them to find it and establish it in their brand store if they will need those items regularly.
We are always working with retailers to get them exactly what they need so that they don’t have to compromise. Having an online catalogue isn’t about restricting items so that we only offer products that are easy for us to source; it’s about getting stores exactly what they need in the most cost-effective way. We don’t want our customers to have to settle for less.
We wrote an article on some of the strangest items we’ve been asked to source – it’s worth a read to understand just what I mean when I say we can source anything!
What else will the brand store offer retailers in the future?
B2B is changing. People are expecting to receive the same service and benefits that they get in B2C, so we want to make sure that we are keeping up with people’s expectations, especially with our Service with Guts DNA.
We have a number of exciting innovations in development, some of which I can mention yet. However, I can say we’re looking into using our brand store as a place to keep instructional videos and user manuals in different languages so that when customers order a ladder, for example, they can download the user manual in the language they need. This will be helpful for health and safety regulations and training for retailers.
Currently, our brand store is only available to retailers that hold contracts with us. But we are looking to expand and create a new brand store that will be available to any retailer, anywhere in the world. We want to give smaller, individual retailers and franchises who might want to order items in smaller quantities or less frequently, the opportunity to access our product ranges.
Retailers won’t need a contract but they will have access to a large range of GNFR that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to - and at really competitive prices.
Our new warehouse will play a pivotal role in this. Having the additional space and capacity means that we can make this happen seamlessly for all retailers. As a Project Manager, it is exciting to be part of a company that is constantly innovating and investing in new technologies to add value to its customers.
Visit our brand store or if you are looking for some help with your GNFR, speak to us on +31(0) 88 494 20 80 or email firstname.lastname@example.org