Monkhouse celebrates 70th anniversary with major technology investment
F. R. Monkhouse Ltd, the schoolwear and sports goods retailer that was founded 70 years ago, has marked its anniversary year by the installation of a complete retail solution from EPoS & e-commerce technology company, Cybertill Limited.
Prior to its relationship with Cybertill, Monkhouse had a poor experience with technology. It previously worked from a DOS-based system that failed to migrate to the Windows environment. By 2006, the lack of a viable stock management system was constraining the company's growth and affecting customer service.
The retailer had spent 3 years searching the market for a point-of-sale system that would cope with its extensive product range and its online sales, fully integrate internal departments and operate in real time. As Monkhouse's Business Development Director, Suzanne Toner, explains: “None of the many, many systems we saw could cope with our vast range of sizes (42 in one girls' trouser line!), pricing per size and split VAT rates, not to mention other idiosyncrasies within our business.”
Selection was narrowed down to four suppliers and Cybertill eventually won the contract. “Cybertill ticked more of our boxes than any other supplier, plus we liked the idea of a hosted ASP service,” Suzanne Toner continues.
System commissioning started in the late Spring and, now at year-end, 17 of Monkhouse's 20 branches have an installed system. The remaining branches are due to come on line shortly.
“Cybertill has been the largest single investment we have made, both in cost terms – in the order of £250,000 - and in management time. Within the next 12 months, we will really see the benefit of having all our branches and departments on the system.”
The cybertill solution replaces old inhouse servers and links all branches in real time using the internet accessed via a virtual private network. Monkhouse staff find the system easy to navigate, both in terms of operating the touchscreen tills and using the back-office functions.
The ability to monitor system performance right across the business at any time, from any point, is a real benefit to the management team, especially to Suzanne Toner who works remotely in Seattle USA. “Having a real-time system on the ASP platform is great as I can log on at any time and see exactly what's going on.”
A further benefit to Monkhouse will be the ability to reduce stockholding by inputting minimum and maximum stock levels to the system. This will enable buyers to see when each product falls below agreed levels. “We will be able to buy less stock, more often, instead of having certain items sitting on the shelves for months at a time. Our target is a 10% reduction,” concludes Suzanne Toner.
Looking forward, Monkhouse aims to have the system fully integrated across the business with all its departments (Buying, Accounts, Wholesale, Embroidery, Graphics, Warehouse and all shops) working in harmony.