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Retail Success Story: Bodyboarders Surf Co (BSC)

September 10th, 2013

Category: ERP Enterprise Resource Planning, Online Retailing, Point Of Sale Systems, Retail Innovations, Retail Success Stories

shop photoIn 1998, Mick and Carina Parkhill, passionate about all things bodyboarding, opened their first specialist bodyboard shop in Narrabeen, Sydney, called Bodyboarders Surf Co (BSC).

Fifteen years later, the pair is still riding the retail wave of success with another bricks and mortar store in Coolangatta, Gold Coast, a 24-hour online store, and a warehouse.

BSC has consistently experienced year on year growth of 20 per cent. This has a lot to do with offering on-trend products and the continued passion and dedication the owners have for the sport, sponsoring professional and amateur bodyboarders, and hiring bodyboarders as shopfloor staff.

Challenges

Bodyboarding is seen as an extreme sport especially at the professional level, with ‘extreme’ denoting sports that come with a high-level of danger whereby activities involve speed, height, an intense level of physical exertion and the wearing of highly specialised gear.

Some might say ‘extreme sport’ is a good metaphor for retailing today. It’s a tough game, fast and furious, and not for the faint hearted. Most retailers have their hands full fending off increased local and international competitors while working hard to deliver quality products and great service to their customers.

While the above challenges are very real today for BSC, it was business growth that was the biggest challenge six years ago and the deciding factor to invest in the CONTROL Retail Management System from Creative Computing.

The Solution

“As our business grew it was hard to assess performance because we weren’t sure how we were tracking,” says Mick. Managing growth while maintaining overall control took a lot of energy and more time than was available,” he noted.

The main reason it was difficult for BSC to have control over its expanding business was that it used disparate systems: MYOB for accounting, a standalone Point-of-Sale and a different system again to run their ecommerce arm. However, CONTROL Retail Management System delivered all of these in one unified system. Specifically BSC utilises the following CONTROL modules: Point of Sale, Inventory Management, Sales Analysis, Customer Management and Loyalty Program, and Online Store.

Utilising one retail system enabled BSC to have a firmer grip over the business with less effort, and it also lessened the pressure intrinsic to managing multiple software systems across a multi-store operation.

However, while Mick and his partner wanted a sophisticated retail system, they had some conditions: “Sure, we needed more advanced software than MYOB. However, it was really important the retail system would be easy to use, and that it was cost effective. The CONTROL Retail Management system delivered well here,” he says.

Additionally, implementing CONTROL was a fairly smooth process and Mick says, “From memory, implementation was pretty seamless; staff found the system easy to use and the Creative Computing team have provided great support since then.”

Main Benefits

Consolidation drives sound business decision-making

What CONTROL firstly did was to enable the business owners to manage their operations remotely as information relating to individual stores including online is accessible on a centralised database. “This has saved the business an enormous amount of time and improved decision-making”, says Mick. “The first big difference we noticed once we implemented CONTROL is that we didn’t have to necessarily be in the stores or ask for information from store managers to know exactly how the different business units were tracking. For example, we can produce stock movement reports for any given period. This helps us make decisions on the fly like move stock to another store or conduct a ‘special’ marketing campaign to our large but loyal database of customers.”

BSC also has access to many other reports such as store turnover, sales person analysis, customer analysis, promotion and markdown analysis, lost sales and more, helping them fine-tune business direction daily or long term. For example, forecasting next seasons’ range is a major task for Mick, especially important because BSC orders the majority of their products 6 to 12 months’ ahead. And while they have a high turnover of stock, they have to be mindful to order the right amount due to limited warehouse space. As difficult as this is when utilising a sophisticated system like CONTROL, it would be near impossible without it.

Integration drives Multi-channel Retailing

It isn’t surprising that retailers with a passion for the edgy sport of bodyboarding jumped on the ecommerce game in its early days with BSC beginning their online ‘ad’-venture, Christmas 1999. It was a great success and yielded fantastic growth of 150% a month for many years. However this has slowed down in the last 24 months due to more bodyboarding retail competitors entering the market and also as a result of a strong Australian dollar.

“We did well with a standalone ecommerce system even up until we decided to switch to CONTROL because we’ve been around for 14 years and have a strong brand and following,” Mick says. “However recently, we were looking to manage the ecommerce side more efficiently and integrating it to the back-end was key.”

BSC implemented the CONTROL Online Store in June 2012 which meant that orders taken online automatically update the stock available in CONTROL. Previously, this was all managed manually and was prone to error. “Since we implemented the CONTROL Online Store module, its cut workload by 60%, and we have more accurate stock control.”

As is typical of this forward thinking retailer they have also embraced multi-channel retailing enthusiastically with CONTROL Online Store now mobile enabled and with the Creative Computing team building an interface to Facebook. “Mobile has been going well,” says Mick. “We’re receiving multiple orders daily, while Facebook is a great social tool for us.”

Having the Online Store available on BSC’s Facebook page has seen the retailer receive a huge amount of referrals with its 18,000 fans, 40% of which are international. This illustrates Australian retailers can successfully woo a global customer base too. “I think the interface Creative Computing did with Facebook is pretty innovative”, says Mick, “and that’s great because we want to stay at the forefront of retail.”

A system that keeps up with Future Plans

To ensure they stay competitive in what is now a crowded online marketplace, BSC has just launched a separate business which is an online factory outlet called www.bodyboardfactory.com “It will sell new season stock as well as discounted stock,” explains Mick. “It’s just a matter of us promoting it. However, running it is not a big deal as stock control and online sales will still be centrally managed by CONTROL.”

Conclusion

While bodyboarders are looking for a thrilling ride, control is important. Swim fins on bodyboards allow riders to “generate the power to get into the waves before they start breaking and are used for control”. This is where the CONTROL Retail Management System is a bit like bodyboarding swim fins. The retail software’s integrated modules enable BSC to power the business and securely control operations – whether dealing with plunging, spilling or surging retail waves.

To find out how CONTROL Retail Management system can help you succeed online or instore, contact us, or phone Bernie Hogan on 1300 646 536.