5 Sep 2017

Media Release: Retail Express releases Franchise Connect in response to franchise sector data access woes

Australian Franchisor Solves Data Dilemma with Locally-Developed, Industry-First Solution

BRISBANE, Australia – 30 August 2017 – Imagine running an organisation providing buying and marketing support for more than 500 independent retailers nationally, without being able to access real-time sales and inventory data. This data access dilemma was just one of the challenges that led one of Australia’s largest independent buying and marketing groups, Associated Retailers Limited (ARL), to seek, trial and ultimately select the Franchise Connect solution from Retail Express.

“We already provide our Retail Express POS solution to hundreds of Australian retailers operating as franchisees. When we began hearing from franchise management groups looking to access real-time data to inform buying and marketing efforts and increase the profitability of their members, we knew we could develop the perfect blend of head office management and local franchisee flexibility,” said Aaron Blackman, CEO and Founder of Australian retail operating software specialist, Retail Express. “The idea for Franchise Connect began to take shape.”

“Look at ARL, supporting all the Toyworld, SportsPower, Compleat Angler outlets and many other retail brands around the country, as representative of buying groups and other such organisations in the retail and franchise sector in Australia,” said Blackman. “Each store is independently managed and operated, each running software of its own choosing, generating vast amounts of critical and relevant data that is disconnected from the Support Office brokering buying deals and designing marketing programs. There wasn’t an existing solution in Australia to connect live retail operational data between franchise / buying groups and their members, and that was creating considerable challenges for the sector.” 

The Franchise Sector Data Dilemma

Before the Franchise Connect solution:

  • Brokering deals with product suppliers or developing marketing programs was hindered by a lack of valuable data like sell through rates, inventory overages / shortages, performance, campaign results
  • Reports from franchisees came from different technology solutions, with different naming conventions and report formats, based on varying levels of technical, financial and data management acumen resulting in myriad submissions to assess, collate and resolve
  • Much franchisee and franchisor time was lost to the reporting process, which wasn’t yielding real-time data to inform business insights like sales trends, gaps, trouble spots or development opportunities for the retailers themselves.
  • Significant data entry was required to implement buying and marketing decisions as each franchisee had to take considerable time to painstakingly enter product information and pricing for hundreds or thousands of items into their own systems. Every inventory update, price change, marketing campaign and new buying decision meant more data entry.
  • It was virtually impossible to provide data-driven operational management advice to the members including feedback on implementation of marketing campaigns, performance and sales effectiveness without access to critical, timely and relevant information to support assessments or the development of customised improvement plans.

“In the increasingly competitive retail environment, we recognised that we needed better visibility of sell-through data to deliver more value to our members through improvements in supplier relationships, marketing campaigns and merchandise selections, whilst also having the insights to assist our members in optimising their operations in terms of product selection, stock levels, margins and more,” said Gavin Hoggett, CFO, ARL.

ARL has invested significantly in the rollout and implementation of the Franchise Connect solution to encourage its members to implement the cloud-based POS and expects fairly strong uptake.

A Solution Born of Industry Requirements & Specifications

ARL consulted its membership and found that Retail Express was already a popular POS solution, proven to be fit for purpose and providing appropriate service levels.

Through its tender process, ARL provided insight on specifications and expectations for an integrated POS with a Support Office module that would meet its requirements. ARL then assessed and advised on the beta version and trialled it in-store.

“Based on the trial implementation and the approach Retail Express takes to addressing our requirements,” said ARL’s Hoggett, “we have confidence we can continue to work with them to integrate the Franchise Connect solution with some unique functionality requirements that we have, such as helping us to effectively consolidate data that currently uses inconsistent naming conventions across multiple systems.”

Ultimately it is about Supporting the Independent Retailer

Locally owned and operated, ARL is member-owned and offers access to major brands plus growth rebates to its members. ARL places its members at the heart of every decision.

“Our main objective is to grow our members’ wealth by providing them with products and business services needed to help them achieve growing and sustainable businesses,” said Hoggett. “We are looking to help our members reduce their administration costs, provide consistency of reporting via standardised product hierarchies and share benchmark data within the group to help drive improved performance.” 

Solution: Franchise Connect

  • Provides the franchisor with live access to all transaction and sales data for each of its franchisees.
  • Each franchisee has its own private, protected instance of the Point of Sale software.
  • The Head Office module connects to franchisee systems to pull data, reducing reporting requirements
  • Franchisors can use data to buy better, avoid under / overstocking, and effectively set price points
  • Franchisor can push the core product line out to each franchisee databases, reducing data entry

“Retail Express was originally developed to solve the software limitations I was experiencing as a retailer,” said Blackman, “so it makes perfect sense that we would extend our cloud retail operating system to help Franchisors and Franchisees gain increased clarity and control by leveraging critical real-time data.”  

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Learn More About Franchise Connect