Argility’s 15-year partnership with Furnmart continues with a full implementation of a new Java-based retail management and merchandising system. The new system provides enhanced functionality to enable the group to continue competing successfully into the future.
In 2003, Argility entered into one of its longest running client relationships when it helped Furnmart implement the Ceres point-of-sale (PoS) system across its entire branch network. Furnmart embarked on an upgrade of its system to Argility’s modern Java-based store retail system with roll-out to all stores in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.
Furnmart is a leading retailer of furniture, kitchen appliances, home entertainment and bedding. It operates stores under both the Furnmart and Home Corp brands. It is active across three countries – Botswana (49 stores), South Africa (36 stores) and Namibia (33 stores) and is listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange.
In 2003, Argility converted Furnmart’s entire network of stores onto the Ceres point-of-sale solution. In 2010, Argility presented its updated Java platform as a long-term future alternative to the aging Ceres POS system. Furnmart and Argility embarked on extensive development to customise the system to Furnmart’s business operational requirements and roll-out was completed to all three countries.
Argility converted Furnmart’s entire store network to its new Java-based retail management and merchandising system.
The value proposition of the solution:
• Data that is easily accessible for use by other applications used in the Furnmart Retail eco-system
• Services Orientated Architecture which enables easy integration with third party applications
• Browser-based technology that enables mobile access by executives
• The end-to-end solution is provided by Argility on a ‘software-as-a-service’ basis, meaning that Furnmart pays monthly subscription and support fees and additional customised development as required
How were the goals achieved?
Furnmart wanted a long-term sustainable solution that still provided the existing functionality and auditability of the Ceres point-of-sale system within a full end-to-end retail management and merchandising system.
“Furnmart was looking for a browser-based system that incorporated existing functionality and proven stability, but that could accommodate both their current and future needs,” said Shawn Wilsnach, Java Divisional Manager at Argility.
The solution for Furnmart was a Java-based retail management and merchandising system developed by Argility and customised in line with its specific business requirements. The new system extracts the stored data and uploads it into the central data warehouse, where it is accessible to other applications.
Argility designed the system to retain the existing distributed architecture. Each store has its own servers to enable it to continue trading regardless of whether it has network connectivity. When possible, these servers replicate back to head office. It also facilitates a full retail and credit solution and is based on Argility’s deep understanding of, and experience in, the retail eco-system.
Wilsnach added that the Java solution provides additional key benefits to Furnmart.
“Data has emerged as a key competitive differentiator in today’s environment because we now have sophisticated new generation analytics capabilities, with artificial intelligence set to become mainstream in the near future,” he said.
“Furnmart now has an end-to-end system with readily accessible data that can interface with other systems. Argility’s Java solution also provides easy on-line, real-time interfaces to third-party systems through web services – a growing requirement in the face of the rapidly increasing demand to integrate across multiple specialised systems seamlessly.”
Functional areas include:
Merchandising: Creation of stock-keeping unit (SKU) codes, including support for different pricing per region, supplier orders, price maintenance, creation and management of promotions, all SKU and stock management and inter-branch stock transfers.
Debtors: Full management of HP (instalment sale) debtors, including variable payment terms, debit orders, statements, interest calculations, all add-on charges, on-line credit referencing (through credit bureaux) and sophisticated credit follow-up. Six month ’open accounts’, lay-bys and cash sales are also supported.
Cash management: Receipts, refunds and till management (including floats, cash-ups and banking).
In a world where enhanced customer service is the name of the game in today’s retail environment – what are the outcomes for Furnmart?
Benefits at a glance:
• Even more exceptional – uninterrupted – service to Furnmart customers.
• Accessible valuable customer data
• Sophisticated analytical capabilities
• Enhanced efficiencies
• Superior decision making based on depth of information available
The project rollout took two years. The use of agile methodologies ensured a tight collaboration between the two teams and that the software was customised to align with Furnmart’s business goals.
“Furnmart’s unique business model meant it was impossible for us to simply use an off-the-shelf application,” said Theo Kukard, General Manager: IT at Furnmart.
“A specific issue is the fact that, like furniture retailers across the sub-continent, we also act as credit providers to our customers, something that you don’t find elsewhere in the world.
“We continued to partner with Argility because they have a deep understanding of the furniture retail business embedded in their product and skilled, dedicated teams who provide invaluable support and rapid development of enhancements and new features.”
With Argility’s help, Furnmart has incorporated the functionality and architecture of its former PoS system into a full end-to-end retail management and merchandising system built on a modern, flexible technology platform. The new system makes valuable customer and other data accessible to sophisticated analysis which can reveal trends and support better decision-making by executives and managers.
Key trading figures are also updated centrally every two hours and presented on the mobile devices of the entire management team. These ‘flash figures’ enable the Furnmart team to view the business key performance indicators (KPI’s) and create appropriate actions where necessary throughout the day to drive the business.
Argility and Furnmart continue to strengthen their partnership, working closely together to explore new ways of taking advantage of the full potential of the new system and to help Furnmart expand its successful business. This includes ongoing engagement with the Furnmart executive team to guide them on how to drive digital transformation and improved customer engagement, specifically through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) models and prescriptive analytics.