Handling NOOS in fashion: key items for retailers


All retailers are looking for the balance in stock which ensures goods to never be out of stock before it’s the end of the season. Nobody wants to sell ‘no’ because of an out of stock situation. For seasonal products, this is inevitable, though, especially because all aim to keep stock levels as low as possible. Never out of stock (NOOS) products, however, are special for fashion retailers. Most of them sell goods marked as NOOS, next to the seasonal collections, continuously. The NOOS season is extraordinary and NOOS items have their own challenges and advantages but are very important for all. They often drive a large portion of the total revenue.

What is the difference between NOOS and seasonal items?

Everyone plans and analyzes their NOOS separate from the seasonal collection, even though these goods are part of the realization of the overall merchandise plan. They always need to be kept on hand and are therefore sourced over and over again, whereas seasonal items usually have one purchase and production period only. This means the inventory and OTB need to be monitored all year long and the goods need to be available in an isolated query for the buyers.

Because the items remain the same, raw materials and maybe production capacity can be purchased more economically. Costing considerations are different, and the calculation can be based on a different logic than the seasonal items. NOOS have a lower investment anyway because they have a very long product life cycle. After the first launch, you can skip the design and sampling phases, which are still very expensive for seasonal items despite some very good digital initiatives of some brand owners.

The exception to the rule in the business of fashion

NOOS items are the exception to the rule that fashion is mostly impossible to forecast. You take less of a gamble when cutting to inventory based on historical sales. Sales are realized across seasons, but therefore also during the same period as the new seasonal items. This can be a challenge. Sales figures for NOOS need to be monitored separately and finance also needs this in their analysis.

Because Never Out Of Stock items are less trendy and can be sold over multiple seasons, and attract a different customer next to the customer who is focused on the seasonal products. In this way, they help to differentiate the appeal to customers. In this era in which customers have a short time span of interest and low brand loyalty, it is important to relate to as many customer groups as possible.

A consistent value proposition for customers

NOOS products also have a higher percentage of returning customers than the seasonal items, because of the appeal of the consistency. Even though the modern customer is easily distracted, we have seen sufficient proof that consistent quality and excellent value proposition is a very strong factor to attract new customers and maintain their loyalty.

Take a closer look at K3 Business Technologies K3 Pebblestone | Fashion for how to identify challenges and what solutions are available for the fashion industry. If you would like to get in touch with one of our consultants about our software solutions you can call us on  +27 (21) 205 3650 or email  info@allonline365.com


Resource Credit | K3 Business Technologies 

Project Texel: The development of Foodware365 as a cloud solution

project texel

Project Texel: A new way of working

A whole new team was brought together for Project Texel. We defined a new organizational structure in which the following roles were assigned: developers, consultants, a test coordinator, a UX designer, application & solution architects, and a program manager.

The tasks and responsibilities that came along with these roles can best be explained while illustrating our ‘new way of working’ mindset.

Translating customer needs into Foodware 365

In our first year we’re creating a Minimal Viable Solution for food companies throughout the world, to accomplish that we’ve defined a new way of working. But before I dive into that deeper, we’ll first have a quick look at our history. Schouw Informatisering exists for over more than 20 years. In these years we’ve developed and implemented SI Foodware on top of Microsoft Dynamics NAV in many different companies in the food industry all over the world. We haven’t done this alone. Our local Microsoft partners helped us along in reaching this. These past experiences result in a thorough knowledge of the food industry. Today we’re facing the challenge to convert this knowledge into our new solution: Foodware 365 on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.

We’re not just simply copy-pasting our solutions into Foodware 365. Based on our experiences and avoiding known pitfalls, we’re actually translating customer needs into Foodware 365 by way of project Texel

Rethink functions per app

First, we’ve created a set of apps which fit the needs of our global food customers. We start off with rethinking which functions are needed per app. It’s all about answering the “What” question: What functions are needed to accomplish a full-fledged app? And because we are working with time boxes, we have to prioritize these functions. Therefore, we assign every separate function into one of the three following categories: Dissatisfiers, Satisfiers, and Delighters. In the end, we want to realize a module with a healthy mix of functions out of all three categories. The roles involving the rethink phase are the functional experts, the solution architect, and the application architect. The output of this phase in project Texel is a functional decomposition.

During this phase, we also involve our reference group. Members of the reference group are a few of our highly appreciated global Microsoft partners and a Dutch heavy end user of our current food solution. In a weekly conference call, we discuss the functional decomposition with them and get valuable feedback. The interaction with the reference group is to ensure that we make a Cloud solution with a global food fit and that we also get important feedback from an end users perspective.

Redesign the software solution

This functional decomposition is input for the next phase, the Redesign phase. In this phase, the “How” question is answered. Roles involved, in addition to the application architect, the functional expert and the solution architect, we also have the lead developer, the UX designer, the test coordinator, and the consultants. The functional decomposition is discussed, and after that, we decided how the app will be developed, inside Business Central with AL code or outside Business Central applying the capabilities of Azure and the Dynamics 365 platform. We’re also deciding if API’s are needed to extend the Foodware 365 function to third software solutions.

Another challenge in this phase is the fact that we’re creating a Cloud solution which will be offered via the AppSource of Microsoft, so we don’t know which Foodware 365 apps a customer is using. That’s why the apps have to work independently of each other. They can’t be developed in a monolithic way anymore, but at the same time, we want to accomplish that the total package of all Foodware 365 apps is more than just the sum of these independent apps. The output of the redesign phase is to use cases and test scripts.

Development, Testing & Documenting

That output is used in the next phase: development, testing and documenting the functions of the app. During this phase, the whole team is involved. A big change for the development of our apps is that it can’t be done via embedded code. It has to be done via extensions. This development possibility is already quite some time around, but because it’s a Cloud Solution it is essential to extend the base code of Business Central.

And by development, we don’t only mean development of the code for the desired functionality, but also the development of the automated test script. These automated test scripts guarantee the quality of our solutions. And because it’s a Cloud solution it’s indispensable to have automated test scripts, otherwise, you can’t keep up the pace of periodic Microsoft upgrades.

During frequent periodic validation sessions, the developer shows his/ her progression and the next steps are discussed and finally agreed upon.

Intuitive and easily accessible Cloud solution

During this phase, we also spend time to make our apps Saasified, with which we mean that our Cloud solutions are intuitive and easily accessible for our end users. We’re doing this by applying tooltips, quick entry, notifications, headlines, assisted setup, ready to use cues, charts and Power BI reports. Last but not least we provide thorough documentation, so that for every app clear documentation is realized.

Learn more on Foodware 365 and how this solution can transform your business. We are excited to hear more about Foodware 365 integration with Dynamics 365 Business Central. You can contact us to find out more about how this solution fits your business needs.

Call:  +27 (21) 205 3650 or email us:  info@allonline365.com


Resource Credit | Foodware 365

Future of retail will be fueled by intelligence, technology and experience

future of retail

The Retail EXPO, formerly known as RBTE, brought to London all the best and most knowledgeable retailers, trend experts and retail technologists of Europe for a very intensive two-day event. So where is the future of retail at? Here are some core takeaways from the show:

Information is the currency and the content in the future of retail

Consumers have more power than ever – because they can access more information than ever before. Products, too, are becoming hubs of information. On the one hand, they can store data (think of how wearable devices, or IOT-connected kitchen appliances, can communicate how they are being used). On the other hand, a product’s value increasingly has to do with the information it delivers to retailers. When you know what is being sold where, when, and to whom, you can easily optimize your stock, minimize costs, and personalize your offering.

Social responsibility matters

In the UK, 80% of the public thinks companies have a responsibility to do social good, Alison Hutchinson, CEO at Pennies, reported. Pennies is a solution that digitizes the charity box, simplifying donations across the channels. The solution has been extremely successful: not a single retailer using Pennies has ever abandoned the system, Hutchinson proudly reported. To date over 400 charities, including many small and local realities, have benefitted from it. According to Nick Lowe, Operations Director at forecourt operator Rontec, the best part of Pennies is that it requires no hard selling from the staff: customers decide to click the “yes” or “no” button on the POS – no pressure. Running a socially responsible company, Lowe added, is not just good for public relations: it can also really help boost morale and pride among staff members – a great benefit in an industry that often struggles at keeping employees.

Finding the right technology is key in the future of retail

Consumers move quicker than ever before. How can you implement the right tech, when it is already out of date by the time it hits the stores? Retailers discussing the topic agreed on what is needed:

  • Suppliers who can give competent advice, have a long-term vision and can deliver quick deployments.
  • Highly scalable technology, to support rapid expansion.
  • A partner who understand the retailer’s niche, its roadblocks, and current and future requirements. Retailers are too busy with day-to-day work to figure out what innovation they actually need, what is feasible, and how to get there. On top of that, many businesses lack the internal knowledge. “You don’t even know what it is that you don’t know”, Andrew Jackson, Head of Retail Technology Europe at BP, put it. Businesses require partners who analyze their flow, find the gaps, and show a solution.

The POS will still be there – but in a slightly different role

With all the focus on experience over the transaction, how will the Point of Sale have to change to support a new way of doing retail? The POS system of tomorrow will have to:

  • Enable and support two-way conversations between staff and customers who need personalized attention.
  • Help consumers who like to DIY make the right choice, with little to no interaction from staff required.
  • Help share information across the whole chain, and deliver it where needed.
  • Support different types of payments – and be ready to support even more, as the environment is moving fast (for example, payment by bank account is expected to become commonplace).
  • Be open, so companies can easily adapt it to quickly changing demands and requirements. This was a very big topic during the show. British supermarket chain The Co-op described how they have been moving data to the cloud, Azure in specific, to reach this goal. The cloud will enable the retail chain to tie together in-store and online data, and ultimately speed up innovation. “Thanks to the cloud, even the tiniest decisions will become data-driven,” said Cliff Austen, Senior Technical Manager for Retail IT at The Co-op.

Customer experience is still the grail of modern retail

So how do you get there? Here are some pieces of advice from the conference:

  • Give exclusivity. Why would a customer visit the M&Ms World stores, when they can get the very same candy at any supermarket, for a lower price? Because only at the M&Ms World you can get the (very Instagram-worthy) experience of seeing hundreds of thousands of colored candy pieces all over the walls. And only there can you get a bag of M&Ms with your face printed on each candy piece. These are highly personalized items, and special moments, that the brand’s resellers just can’t reproduce.
  • Use the data. Dutch retailer HEMA was very surprised when data showed that their restaurant customers were their most loyal ones. This discovery led to a store redesign, changes in the assortment, and even the creation of an internal cooking school for interested staff members.
  • Create chances for interaction. At Le Gavroche, the London restaurant of two-star Michelin chef Michel Roux Jr., the menu is in French. This is not just to hold up to tradition, the chef explained. With the menu in a foreign language, guests end up talking to each other, and to the front-of-house staff, as they try to figure out what the dishes are about. This creates a shared experience, and special memories tied to every single meal.
  • Respect your customers. Do not create an experience with the sole goal of creating Instagram moments. This is not what engagement is all about. “Consumers are smart, and their time matters,” said Amy Brown, Head of Creative Strategy at Google.
  • Make it fun. In the Google Curiosity Room, a temporary store to promote the Pixel phone, all experiences had to fulfill two requirements: they would need to be tightly related to the product, and they would need to be enjoyable. If people have fun and are impressed by your product, you don’t need to do any more promotion – they will want to share the experience.

Take it to the next level

In the words of Sezin Tumer, Principal Retail Innovation Manager at Vodafone, “retail isn’t dying – but boring retail is.” A common thread during the conference is that it’s not about your products anymore. People can get stuff anywhere. You need to make your brand relevant to consumers. The selling part will come afterward.

Some ways you can do this:

  • Find your point of difference. “Being cheap and convenient is not a selling point anymore,” said Andrew Jones, Format Director at HEMA. Focus on what only you can provide –whether it is your history and provenance, your sustainability efforts, or the way you connect to and support local culture.
  • Adapt by changing your “how”, not your “why”. Stay true to your identity and your core audience, but do not be afraid to evolve. Michel Roux Jr. explained how at Le Gavroche, a restaurant his father opened in 1965, he adapted the service to modern expectations while maintaining the same standards. “Today’s guests want to feel welcome, and see a smile on the server’s face – they don’t care to see the staff stand to attention,” the restaurateur explained.
  • Don’t try to be everything for everyone. That’s Amazon – and you won’t compete with them by playing their same game. Instead, go niche, and use the data you have to deliver the most curated product selection and personalized service to a specialized group of customers.
  • Focus on nearby customers. “Near me” searches grew 900% last year alone – and 76% of local mobile “near me” searches resulted in a same-day visit to the store, said Miya Knights, author of a best-selling book on Amazon. Location can be a proxy for relevance – use it.

Find out more about one of our retail solutions, LS Retail. If you have any questions on how to digitally transform your business, let us know! Call  +27 (21) 205 3650 or email us on info@allonline365.com.


Resource Credit | LS Retail 



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