One of the biggest challenges with running a multi-store retail business is creating a cohesive experience across all your locations while making sure that each shop reflects the local flavor of its community.
It’s not an easy task, but WORLD, a New Zealand brand that produces hand-made fashion collections and haute-couture garments, does a masterful job.
We recently caught up with Benny Castles, co-director and designer at WORLD, and asked him to share insights into the company’s retail operations.
Check out was he has to say.
1. What’s the story behind WORLD?
WORLD was started in 1989 by Francis Hooper and Dame Denise L’Estrange-Corbet. They started in a small retail store off High Street in Auckland Central and I have been a part of the business for 20 years.
We started as a retailer and remain committed to providing a unique and characterful in-store experience. WORLD also developed into an iconic name in New Zealand Fashion, still to this day designing and making our collections here in New Zealand whilst also having been a part of Fashion Weeks around the globe including Paris, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney and here in NZ.
Alongside our craftsmanship and creativity we explore other like minded creators from around the globe and include in our retail stores, as well as online. We range an exclusive and unique collection of niche luxury fragrance and candle brands as well as artworks and objet d’art from local and global creators.
2. What are the unique things about your stores that customers love? How do you keep people coming back?
We endeavor to create an environment that is inclusive and exciting. Our staff are chosen and trained to create an experience for all guests and we surround our team with a vast collection of ideas and experiments to allow them to take clients on a journey and to push the boundaries of their shopping.
We hope to make the experience fun and memorable by taking our service seriously, but making sure our team express themselves as individuals and therefore connect with our customers in a personal way.
We consider our products, ideas and experiments, we like to push the envelope, have fun and challenge perceptions and most importantly we like guests to find their personality in what we do. If we are able to remain exciting and interesting to our customers and provide a warm and fun experience we hope to enjoy repeat business — which is the only way a niche brand like ourselves can continue.
We are fortunate to have such a talented and loyal team who bring our ideas, products and environments to life!
3. What are some of the challenges that come with running multiple stores and how do you overcome them in your business?
Multiple locations presents the challenge of extra expense and balance across the business, but also provides the strength that comes with being able to juggle.
One challenge we always take seriously is in making sure each store is a positive reflection of its local community. We are not a cookie-cutter brand and our team are proud and unique personalities — this must be reflected in each location and that store must feel a part of its environment — we take our role in the neighbourhoods we are in seriously.
We use the balance of multiple locations and stock holding to support each other and provide a consistent experience across the country.
4. How do you keep all your stores stocked with the right products (and at the right quantities)?
Currently and ongoing freight and stock movement are increasing costs, delays have also been challenging and effected costs. Beyond this, an increase in online shopping and shipping are developments which affect this too.
We often make products in limited numbers and our imports are difficult to manage in terms of stock holding and re-ordering as we have such a large range of items.
We use the reporting within Vend constantly, both Inventory and Sales, to help predict sales and make ordering more consistent. The report function is great to craft specific insights or a broader view of the sales within the business.
We hold stock across our stores and workroom so being able to support each other with real time stock knowledge and efficient stock movements are key in making sure our service is supported and of high quality.
Like WORLD, you too can forecast demand and streamline stock ordering with the use of retail reporting and analytics. Vend takes the guesswork out of retail by enabling you to build your own reports, spot trends, and make data-backed decisions that help grow your business.
5. Tell us more about your retail tech stack. What software solutions are you using?
We work with The Instillery who are our IT service provider and they have packaged a collection of products to work with and alongside Vend.
Things such as Shopify, Smartpay EFTPOS, Aider, Dropcam, Cisco Meraki and our Gmail and Google Sheets. We have found having a partner whose expertise is in the IT sector has meant we have stayed ahead of the bell-curve of change and innovation whilst not having to really understand, research or develop ourselves.
We are not particularly good at IT or the digital world, so having the Instillery and of course, the Vend team in support means we can focus on our real roles, whilst treating the IT around us as tools to provide the service we are trying to offer.
Vend integrates the world’s top retail technologies. Our open ecosystem allows you to connect Vend to just about any business app or solution, from ecommerce and marketing to accounting and ERP. Check out Vend’s integrations and discover how you can tailor our software to meet your needs.
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+.