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Retail Success Story: G. W. Cox Jeweller

October 8th, 2013

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

  GWCOXCompany Background

Diamonds have been described as ‘fragments of stars’, or ‘tears of the Gods’, and for many they also embody glamour and beauty. This is what inspired George William Cox and his wife, Lillian to open their first jewellery store in Hindley Street, Adelaide in 1898. More than 100 years later, G. W. Cox is still a family-owned business, run by George’s great grandson, Jon Cox.

How is this family business still going strong considering that many of its long-standing competitors no longer operate? According to Jon, longevity has to do with having a solid foundation and keeping it in the family.

He also notes that a passion for jewellery retailing, something Jon and his forefathers shared, likely contributes to their long-term success.

Challenges

Challenges are typical: keeping up with changing consumer tastes and demands, and paying close attention to stock turns and operating costs. Also, offering superior service in the era of the fast-paced 24/7 shopping experience is a challenge for what is a nine-to-five, bricks and mortar high-end retailer.

Additionally, like many jewellers, G. W. Cox has certain business challenges unique to jewellery retailing such as managing the production of custom-designed pieces.

The Solution

In 2005, Jon implemented CONTROL Retail Management System from Creative Computing in order to have tighter control over his multi-store operation. “Initially, the major reason I implemented CONTROL was to have a precise view of my different locations – helping me better manage stock and sale across the stores”, he says.

G. W. Cox utilises CONTROL’s Point-of-Sale, Inventory Management, Sales Analysis, Manufacturing, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Replenishment and Online Store.

Tailored to the specific needs of industry sectors like jewellery retailers, one of CONTROL’s features that has proven very useful is that it lets images of products be uploaded and viewed at the Point-of-Sale. “Imaging is important to us for lots of reasons and helps us provide that extra bit of customer service,” says Jon. “It lets us find our merchandise easily; we can showcase unique designs or a product not on physical display, or look up a jewellery item if someone requires a valuation.

Major Benefits

Strong inventory management across multi-stores
With thousands of products that include diamond rings, wedding bands, watches, silver jewellery and pearls, Jon is very proactive when it comes to managing stock levels. “Because CONTROL lets me see exactly what’s selling and where, I can easily move stock around the stores or sell it via my online store,” says Jon. Sales analysis, especially aged stock analysis is quite important according to Jon, “as it helps us keep an eye on evolving or new fashion trends.”

Jon also seamlessly manages customer orders and supplier orders via CONTROL. “It’s pretty smooth”, he notes. “We can easily see what’s on order for customers and what’s coming through from suppliers. Also, when ordering for customers, I can easily consolidate supplier orders and thus ensure my freight charges are minimised.”

Stock information is available via CONTROL’s Inventory Enquiry facility, providing current sales and stock statistics such as quantity sold in recent sales periods in all stores, quantity on hand, on purchase order, on customer order, etc.

Jon works closely with his wholesalers/distributors in deciding what range he will sell. He then sets up optimal stock levels and runs automatic orders. Jon utilises CONTROL’s Replenishment module using min/max and model stock for jewellery items that come in different sizes or stones. While desired stock levels can be specific to a particular location, the system also gives Jon the flexibility to take away automatic ordering if he thinks stock is aged.

Control over the design, cost and delivery of custom-made jewellery
While many of G. W. Cox’s jewellery pieces come from their own or outside designer collections, they also offer custom-made jewellery, sourcing the best quality craftsmanship for those consumers looking to invest in highly individual, unique pieces. However, the process can be costly and complex and thus it’s important to manage it cost-efficiently.

Not only is there a cost associated with the individual components of a custom-designed piece, there is also the cost of delivery of components and manufacture of the end product. To illustrate: an engagement ring encrusted with diamonds and rubies might involve the customer working with a designer to come up with a unique design. The customer chooses the setting/mount and this is ordered from one supplier. They might also choose the shape and size of the stones which are ordered from a diamond supplier and a ruby supplier. When the stones and setting arrive, they are forwarded to a manufacturing jeweller who puts it all together (the manufacturing process), and returns the ‘finished product’ to the store for the customer to pick-up. It is important to be able to keep track of the design, cost and delivery of individual components to ensure the whole process is managed smoothly.

This is where CONTROL’s Manufacturing module not only provides a full audit trail; it assists with accumulating the cost of materials and production to deliver the right retail price. It also allows G. W Cox to easily advise the customer of the different stages before final completion of the finished product, ready for delivery.

‘CONTROL’s manufacturing module works well for our business because it gives us complete control over the design, manufacture and delivery of custom-made pieces,” says Jon. “This means that even today with increasing competition, we stay true to my great grandfather’s aim to offer shoppers exceptional and distinctive jewellery, backed by superior service and value for money.”

Modern jewellery retailing: Customers expect you to be online
It’s been about 18 months since G. W. Cox implemented the CONTROL Online Store module which integrates into the backend and this means that when someone purchases an item online, the purchase is immediately reflected in the inventory holdings.

“While we’re a 99 per cent bricks and mortar retailer,” says Jon, “we are slowly and surely complementing our in-store selling with online selling.” Saying that, the site has up to now served more as a research portal for local Adelaide consumers who want to look first before they buy. The site also offers helpful information via its blog with topics covering things like how to buy diamonds, how to care for jewellery or how to select the right wedding band, etc.

Only time will tell if online sales will compete with their bricks and mortar sales. However, CONTROL Online Store is already proving to be a great asset in other ways. “Currently, it’s allowed me to create a genuine clearance outlet, helping me move old stock faster, so that’s been working well,” says Jon.

The CONTROL Online Store also plays a pivotal role in the sales process in-store. Jon explains: “Our staff use Ipads and jump online to our e-commerce site to show products and access our suppliers, like diamond cutters or watch manufacturers and thus we can work through the list and their requirements in front of them, so that’s a great benefit.”

The G. W. Cox website showcases the retailer’s special collections and all of its range of jewellery products, many of which can be purchased online. While online sales of high-end products has been slow mainly because Jon is still finessing the payment process, he is envisaging this will grow, and notes that already the site is seeing a growing interest from Melbourne and Sydney visitors thus potentially expanding his customer base nationally. There has also been interest from consumers in the USA and Europe.

“Instead of running away from competition, we’re online as this is the way of the future. Being online also makes us more transparent. This engenders more confidence in customers as they are armed with all the information they need to make astute purchases,” says Jon. “For example, we provide information like unique product identifiers, so buyers can compare our prices. And that’s okay as our diamonds are internationally competitive as are our big brand watches.”

Conclusion

The single biggest benefit of the CONTROL Retail Management System for Jon is that it is well-proven in the Jewellery retail sector and is very stable. “Like our business, CONTROL and the Creative Computing support team have been around for a long time, so it works well. And like our business the system has changed and grown over the years to contend with new retailing and consumer demands.”

He added: “It will be interesting to see where retailing is going and it’s important to anticipate what that is, and quickly make changes. To do that, you need some seriously good retail technology to support you. Diamonds will always be brilliant but we couldn’t sell them without the brilliant support of the CONTROL Retail Management system.”

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.