SaaS Dashboard Speeds Sales, Inventory Data To Apparel Merchandisers

Retailers can make quicker ordering and merchandising decisions because they are receiving sales information up to a half day sooner from Theory, a New York-based apparel manufacturer and wholesaler. Using the SkyPAD Software as a Service (SaaS) dashboard, Theory is able to more quickly and efficiently analyze sales performance at the store level.

Previously, Theory subscribed to a service that provided the information offline, according to Keitaro Shigemasa, CIO. “We would receive an Excel sheet once a week and our staff would have to analyze and create reports. SkyPAD, because it’s online, saves time, particularly at the beginning of the week. On Monday morning sales and merchandising people review the data. Now we have the data earlier and can take action quicker.”

Minimal cost to implement SaaS
A limited up-front investment reduced the stress around calculating return on investment for Theory, according to Shigemasa. “Because our monthly running cost has come down compared to past solution, and the initial investment for a SaaS solution is very minimal, I didn’t do any ROI calculation. It was obvious that in a few months we were able to recover the initial cost, while running SkyPAD at a lower rate with higher functionality compared to the offline solution.”

SkyPAD, from Sky IT Group, utilizes IBM’s DB2 database software and IBM BladeCenter server technology. SkyPAD delivers statistical, graphical and image views of products sold at retail stores. The SaaS solution eliminates the cost of purchasing and maintaining an in-house solution which delivered reports via spreadsheets in hard copy form.

After integrating SkyPAD in less than four weeks, Theory used the Web-based tool to increase the efficiency of its business. Theory fully linked its ERP data with that of its retailers to determine marketplace trends. For example, if data indicates that sales of a certain color sweater steadily increased while sales of another color decreased, the company is able to increase shipments of the more popular color product in a timelier manner. “It also allows us to better analyze size breakdowns which can make future buys more efficient,” Shigemasa notes.

“Prior to implementing SkyPAD, we had a static service that would be updated only once a week and wasn’t readily accessible by all who needed the information,” says Shigemasa. “We now have a much more flexible platform where information sharing has improved, we are able to easily integrate data from retailers with our internal ERP data, and our overall running costs have significantly decreased.”

SaaS use increases in challenging economy

“Through the SaaS model, customers are finding they can get specific solutions — such as industry-focused CRM and business intelligence solutions — up and running in a short amount of time without large capital expenditures or further staffing to maintain the application and its hosting infrastructure,” says Dave Mitchell, director of strategy and emerging business, for IBM’s ISV business. “Sky IT Group is one of the growing number of IBM software Business Partners using our technology infrastructure to deliver our joint solutions as a service offering,”

“In the new reality of economic slowdown, change in consumer purchasing behavior and decrease in margins merchandisers must rely on immediate and accurate product performance at the SKU and store level,” adds Jay Hakami, CEO of Sky IT Group. “SkyPAD, as a hosted SaaS or deployed in-house, provides retail executives with means to quickly analyze best and/or worst performers, ‘make the call’ and protect margins.”

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