Behind the Counter: OLLY Shoes

Buying footwear for your children can be a frustrating experience. Aside from the fact that some kids just aren’t interested in sitting still to try on multiple pairs of shoes, it can be difficult to find a store that carries top-notch brands in various categories. 

Fortunately, we know of at least one retailer that alleviates these issues. Meet OLLY Shoes, a retailer that serves as a one-stop-shop for the footwear needs of children. OLLY Shoes has three locations in Toronto plus an ecommerce site, and one of the things we love about them is they a run a tight operation that simplifies the retail experience for both their team and customers. 

We recently caught up with Jim Trebilcock of OLLY Shoes. Have a look at what he has to say!

1. Tell us a bit about how OLLY Shoes got started. What’s the story behind the business?

The inspiration for OLLY came out of the need to find quality footwear for our founder’s children. Unable to find a one-stop-shop that had quality brands in all categories from athletic to dress, school shoes to casual and sales associates that could properly fit children she set about creating a full service, sit and fit footwear destination.  OLLY Canada has grown into three Toronto area locations along with an ecommerce site.

2. How did you find Vend? Would you recommend Vend to retailers like yourself? 

Vend was recommended to us from a colleague in the US. We were looking for a simple solution for our Canadian operation. Back in 2015 we had just gone through a restructuring and separated from our US counterpart. OLLY needed to go from an enterprise software system to something simpler and cost-effective. 

With three doors and a warehouse, we wanted to keep the hardware costs to a minimum by location. Vend was able to give us the ability to use an iPad as a POS, which was a great fit with our operations. Vend was able to accommodate our active SKU count of around ten thousand items and is easily integrated with many different programs and payment processors.

3. What are some of the most useful Vend features that you’ve found? How have they helped your business? 

Vend has a great customer loyalty program built into it. We had an existing customer base of around 15k customers at the time of implementation. OLLY needed a simple no-nonsense program for our customers. The sign-up information can be quickly captured by our associates and we were able to easily customize the amount of loyalty earned for certain products and dollars spent. 

The back-end reporting has many different choices to quickly view sales/inventory/customer information and is easily customizable by exporting these reports into spreadsheets. Product set up and classification is easy and can be uploaded from a spreadsheet as well. Almost everything in Vend is customizable from receipts, register set-up, permissions, quick keys and the list goes on and on… 

On the front end, our employees found the POS easy to learn and it has simplified our store operations. We found the turnaround time on the training aspect of Vend to be very quick. Most of our new employees were able to learn the basics and start actually using the app by the end of their first shift. This helped us cut our training costs down with staff needing a shorter time frame to learn a new POS system. 

Our store managers find that they spend less time running reports for opening and closing procedures. Vend’s real-time inventory has helped staff to locate products at other locations and to easily create store to store transfers if they’re out of stock in their own store. This is seen as a great tool to help our staff when servicing our customers. 

We have Vend integrated with XERO accounting software for finance and Deputy Software for employee scheduling and assistance on payroll management. Currently, we are using Shopify as our ecommerce platform and is also easily integrated with Vend.

4. What are the unique things about your store that customers love? How do you keep people coming back? 

OLLY offers the best name brand footwear and accessories in a family-friendly environment.

Our staff have extensive training both on fitting and product knowledge and parents can trust that when they shop at OLLY they will get the best service and assortment of footwear for all their children’s needs.

And we’re constantly finding ways to improve the in-store experience of our customers. We’re currently looking into using iPad POS systems, so we can ring up sales from anywhere in the store. 

Most of the shoppers at Olly Shoes are moms and dads with kids. And for those types of customers, the checkout process can be cumbersome, because they have to bring all of their kids to the back of the store where the cash desk is to pay for their purchases.

We’re looking to be more mobile so we can bring the register to the customer and complete the sale while the parents and kids are sitting on a bench (putting all of their shoes back on) without having to get them to move around.

5. What’s your local community like? 

OLLY Shoes has had its flagship street front location in uptown Toronto on Yonge Street for 18 years now. It’s a great family-friendly walking and shopping area. Our other stores are located in box store plazas with plenty of parking which is a great benefit for families and Torontonians alike.

We honestly can’t say there’s anything we wished we had known! Other than why didn’t we simplify our retail systems sooner! When we started with the integration a few years back, the whole process was pretty seamless and well managed by Vend. The communication from their team was excellent.

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.