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Games Workshop increases visibility over inventory with Epicor

Supplier: Epicor Software (Aust)
02 July, 2012

Games Workshop is the largest and most successful tabletop fantasy and futuristic game company in the world, with 39 stores and 120 staff in Australia and New Zealand.

Games Workshop products are sold through a chain of more than 340 stores and by more than 3,700 independent toy and hobby shops throughout the world.

As part of its operations, the company also has a series of warehouses located across the world; one of which is based in Sydney and services the entire Australian and New Zealand retail chain.

Games Workshop also has direct sales operations in the UK, the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Japan. With over 70 per cent of sales coming from outside of the UK, Games Workshop is truly an international organisation.

Challenges

Games Workshop previously relied on a legacy Point of Sale (POS) system, which had been implemented on a temporary basis approximately ten years ago.

The ongoing use of a legacy POS system created a number of challenges the company needed to overcome. It simply did not have the functionality Games Workshop required. Staff efforts were frustrated by the solution's inability to capture accurate stock information in real-time.

Games Workshop was unable to access up-to-date information on stock quantities. This often resulted in an unnecessary loss of stock. Furthermore, there were no formal processes in place to request additional stock, as and when it was needed.

Similarly, the company experienced problems with the codes allocated for individual sales transactions made at its stores. Sometimes, these codes were assigned to the wrong stores, meaning that a sales transaction made in Sydney could be incorrectly assigned to Melbourne. Similarly, the legacy system had no means of communicating with Games Workshop's financial system.

"The old system did not have the integration strength we required and was unable to support the volume of stores we have throughout Australia and New Zealand," Craig Zimmerman, IT manager, Games Workshop.

"We experienced problems with sales transactions made at one store location being recorded as transactions made in a completely separate location. It became very difficult to tell where sales data had come from."

A reliance on manual processes put a strain on IT staff. Each morning, members of the IT department spent up to two hours transferring retail sales information into the company's financial system. The IT team had to specifically write its own custom scripts to perform this task. This was a labour intensive and ineffective use of the company's resources.

Games Workshop prides itself on its strong customer service ethos. Subsequently the company sees its stores as ‘hobby centres', staffed by dedicated enthusiasts who are all veteran gamers themselves. Games Workshop's customers expect to have access to staff with in-depth knowledge across all products sold by the company.

Games Workshop made the decision to implement Epicor Precise POS and ARM because collectively they could:

  • Allow for better information flow across solutions (i.e. financial management system)
  • Eliminate time-consuming manual processes
  • Gain better visibility and control of inventory management and purchasing
  • Support the company's customer-centric business approach

"The legacy system made it difficult for Games Workshop staff to provide a high quality of customer service," Zimmerman said.

"Simply processing one sales transaction on the legacy system took staff members up to 30 keystrokes to complete."

The lax security of the legacy POS system was also a cause of concern. With its two-character code limit, options for logins were limited. This meant the same login details could be used at different stores, which made it cumbersome to reconcile sales into the company's financial system.

Games Workshop had no way to appropriately manage its inventory because it did not have the ability to accurately record the stock received. Subsequently, this made it more difficult for the company to produce regular and accurate KPI reports.

The frustrations experienced by management, IT and retail staff across stores in Australia and New Zealand made it perfectly clear to Games Workshop that it was time to upgrade to a modern and flexible POS solution.

Solution

The legacy POS system used by Games Workshop was inadequate for a large company that wanted to maintain a high level of customer service throughout every facet of its sales cycle.

Already an Epicor customer using Epicor's financial management solutions, as well as its warehouse management system (WMS) to provide complete control, management and visibility of logistics at its Sydney warehouse, Games Workshop made the decision to explore what other solutions it had to offer as part of its broader enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite.

Following a competitive tender, in which a number of vendors were considered, Games Workshop selected Epicor Precise POS. Epicor Precise POS provides accurate and speedy point of sale transactions, in a user-friendly application which is reliable and comprehensive.

In addition, Games Workshop also opted to implement Epicor Advanced Requisition Management (ARM). Epicor ARM is a requisition management and workflow solution that has been designed to deliver full-cycle procurement functionality securely to employees' computers. It allows staff to requisition miscellaneous inventory and non-inventory items, such as stationery, furniture and equipment.

"We wanted something that could communicate with our financial management system. We also wanted to streamline our processes, reducing the need to manually transfer information from one system to another," said Zimmerman.

"What we were looking for was a solution based on the latest POS technology that could easily flow data to and from our Inventory, Sales and Accounts Receivable modules. Given we were already successfully working with Epicor to support our financial management and warehouse management requirements, this was certainly taken into account when choosing a new POS and requisition management solution," added Zimmerman.

Games Workshop works with Epicor partner, Precise Business Solutions (PBS), a leading provider of business software solutions and associated services, to manage and maintain Epicor Precise POS and Epicor ARM. Based in Western Australia, PBS is Epicor's largest Value-Added Reseller in Australia and it works with several leading retail chains in the region.

"Precise has helped create over 15 customisations to the solutions we are now using throughout our retail chain," Zimmerman said.

"We have found when we call upon them they have been able to resolve any minor issues we have. We currently rely upon a mixture of on-the-ground support from Precise and from Epicor's direct helpdesk.

"We have enjoyed significant improvements in inventory visibility and control. With much stronger real-time management of inventory levels and a robust and flexible requisition management tool in place, we can now ensure we have the required levels of stock to meet our pre-defined service level for customers."

Games Workshop sales staff are now empowered with greater access to invaluable product information. Leveraging Epicor ARM, they can view accurate data on the location and quantity of the company's stock. If a customer requests a specific product, staff can provide them with a detailed account of where that item can be sourced and how long it will take.

Benefits and results

Games Workshop has enjoyed numerous business benefits since implementing Epicor Precise POS and Epicor ARM.

Not only has Games Workshop been able to equip its staff with the tools necessary to provide an even better in-store experience to customers, the new POS system has also introduced a number of increased efficiencies when processing sales transactions.

"To input a sale of one item with the legacy solution took much longer due to excessive keystrokes," Zimmerman said.

"Now there are much fewer keystrokes, which means we can process sales a lot quicker. In fact, we visited a couple of Games Workshop stores since the new POS system was introduced and noticed that staff could multi task when processing sales transactions. They were able to talk on the phone and serve a customer at the same time if required. It was much easier to serve multiple customers with a few key strokes."

In addition, the new POS system has removed a significant burden from the IT department at Games Workshop. Previously it was called on to resolve issues pertaining to individual sales transactions, which were sometimes assigned to the wrong stores as a result of using separate software systems.

"Previously, our IT staff had to transfer retail sales data into our financial system each morning. With the new POS system, information and business critical data can be transferred directly from one system to another, significantly reducing time spent on manual processes," said Zimmerman.

Games Workshop has also enjoyed a greater level of security since leveraging Epicor Precise POS. Staff members using the system are now required to enter a much longer unique staff code to log into a POS device than before.

"There is no longer any risk of duplication across stores," added Zimmerman.

Since implementing Epicor ARM, Games Workshop has also reaped a number of pivotal rewards including improved workflow. Not only can staff members much more easily order and source stock directly from the warehouse or another store as it is required, they can also track and record the stock that comes into each store. Furthermore, the company has enjoyed a considerably lower incidence of stock being lost or misplaced.

Ultimately, Games Workshop now has greater access to real-time data in terms of sales being processed and the required levels of stock to support these sales.

"We now have accurate live information," Zimmerman said.

"The head office staff can see sales being processed in real-time and make sure that information has been transferred into our financial management system accurately. Once a sale has been completed it can be seen within half an hour.

"We also have much more accurate KPI reporting than we had under the legacy system. Because information flows easily across Epicor Precise POS, Epicor ARM and our financial management system, we can now provide detailed reports to management as and when required."