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Mr Kong (left) and Mr Lor have noticed the increased productivity since the new inventory system was introduced.
Photo: Chong Jun Liang

In the fifth part of a six-week series featuring SMEs that have taken steps to build their capabilities or venture into new markets with Spring Singapore’s support, Aaron Tan speaks to Goodvine Group.

The Straits Times
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September 2, 2015

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FOR years, leather goods specialist Goodvine Group had relied on qualitative feedback from its frontline staff to develop products that resonated with consumers, such as wallets that can accommodate 32 credit cards.

The company behind brands such as Tocco Toscano and Tenero knew it needed to gather more data about customer preferences to maintain its competitive edge.

“We needed to have a deeper knowledge of what our customers wanted from our products – such as how long a bag’s handle should be, and if they like having a little logo on it,” says Mr Chester Kong, vice-president of regional marketing at Goodvine.

However, until recently, the Singapore- based company had been unable to glean such insights. The reason: Its inventory management system could not capture and house granular product information such as design styles and colours.

So last year, the company set out to build a new inventory system with built-in analytics capabilities to uncover business insights from product information and sales data.

The system, which recently went live this month, was built from scratch with the support of Spring Singapore’s Capability Development Grant.

Comprehensive data

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Underpinning Goodvine’s new inventory management system is the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, which can store a lot more information about its products than just barcodes.

Combining such information with sales data would then allow Goodvine to run sophisticated data models to determine which features of a product resonate with consumers.

“Our designers can make use of such insights to come up with products that sell,” says Mr Kong.

The new inventory management system is still very much a work-in-progress. The company has rolled it out for its handbag segment, where each bag now contains an RFID chip. Plans are in the pipeline to extend its use to other segments such as belts and wallets.

Knowing more about customer preferences also helps in demand forecasting.

According to Mr Joseph Lor, brand director at Goodvine, business decisions on the type and quantity of products to restock were often made based on what managers think would sell well, rather than how much was sold.

“The new system will allow us to quantitatively forecast our re-orders, since we now have more specific historical sales data.

“We can also take into account seasonal demands and ‘decay factors’ like the possibility of products becoming less popular over time,” says Mr Lor. Smart stocktaking Goodvine’s use of RFID technology has also shortened the amount of time it takes for stocktaking at its warehouses and retail counters at departmental stores.

At its Tai Seng warehouse, for instance, workers armed with smartphones attached with RFID readers are now able to do a stocktake of a quarter of all the items in just 20 minutes.

This is because each RFID reader is able to pick up information from multiple RFID tags in one fell swoop. The same task used to take hours to complete.

For sales promoters at retail counters, the use of RFID technology has helped to improve service levels by making it faster and easier to locate items in the backroom for customers.

“Their administrative work has also been greatly reduced, as they no longer need to keep physical copies of inventory lists. This gives them more time to serve our customers better,” says Mr Kong. In addition, product and marketing managers will be able to make quicker business decisions using sales data that is now captured and uploaded from the ground to the company’s servers in real time.

“Previously, it took a long time to generate sales reports, but now anyone can access the data anytime,” he adds.

For more information on the retail sector and stories on how retailers have built their capabilities, please visit www.spring.gov.sg/retail or email lifestyle_division@spring.gov.sg.


This article was first published on Sep 2, 2015.
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