Premaman Case Study
Prémaman, offers, what the mother-to-be, the baby and the child (up to 10 years) may need: clothes, accessories, and nursery items.
Founded by an entrepreneurial Belgian couple, Prémaman came into being in 1953. They opened their first store on the Brussels street "Rue du Marché aux Herbes". That's where the first Prémaman brand clothes for pregnant women and young children were to be found, together with an assortment of accessories.
At first, the clothes were designed and tailored in a workshop located above the store. Soon other stores were opened and more staff was hired by the couple. The tailoring workshop grew to occupy an entire floor where several dressmakers worked. One by one, new Prémaman stores spread all over Belgium. Then the brand crossed the border, opening subsidiaries in Luxembourg and Athens, Greece. The international expansion continued.
Today, Prémaman operates 350 stores in about 50 countries with over 1200 employees. It is now a complex business with over 8500000 items sold to about 3750000 customers every year adding over 3000 different articles to its wide range of assortment.
Expansion of Prémaman's retail operations happened through a combination of organic and inorganic growth, thus opening their own stores wherever possible and going through a hierarchical franchisee network in countries where doing independent business was not easy.
What it meant was localization of retail operations in terms of
- Language at for customer service and billing level
- Varied currencies
- Buying and selling of some local/seasonal merchandise to appeal to the target market
- International needs for legal & fiscal regulations
Over the years, it resulted in loosing significant control at the HQ of Premaman in Brussels due to the following
- No centralized buying & replenishment
- No visibility of global sales
- No visibility of global inventory of Premaman merchandise
- No standardization of master data resulting in near impossible central data consolidation
- Due to delayed, inaccurate business insight, range creation and order-booking was done blindly
- No intimacy with diverse customer base in varied geography
- Extremely slow response time to market
- Inefficient execution of central marketing strategy and sales campaigns
- Inconsistent shopping experience across single-brand stores
- Inconsistent shopping experience across multiple channels (stores, web, catalogue sales)
Prémaman had to do something urgently before things went completely out of hand. Prémaman leadership knew that technology had to play a significant role in bringing their multi-country ecosystem on a single platform. They found an able partner in Criti to take them on the journey of business transformation. Criti built Spectrum for Prémaman, a next generation retail solution promising the shopping experience of Tomorrow, delivered … Today!
Criti quickly put together a team of highly qualified business analysts with strong retail domain knowledge. True partnership was struck at the early stage of the project, when business & technology teams on either side worked extensively to come up with a very detailed requirement document. Both teams had travelled to the respective countries (i.e. India and Belgium) to understand each other’s working models, cultures and infrastructure. It resulted in building a mutual understanding and confidence in the team’s ability and commitment.
Criti, adopted a unique technique of rapid prototyping to minimize the risk of late identification of the gaps between business needs and solution design. It resulted in graphics team creating a complete simulation of the software-to-be. This innovative approach became hallmark of Criti’s future high-quality delivery machine. Prototype was useful in bringing key business leaders from various sects of Premaman business and their franchisee network into the decision making forum, defying all the geographical, cultural and language barriers. Many could give critical input at the right stage of the project and could feel involved and connected. This became the critical success factor for the design sign-offs, testing & go-live!
Once the signed-off design was put to production and tested thoroughly, team Criti was ready for the show-time in Ireland, the first store to go live. Team worked relentlessly to ensure that there is a smooth transition from old solution to the new one, without any business disruption (even going beyond the call of duty and doing physical stock takes at night or even setting up merchandise at the store early in the morning). At the end, Mr. Ronan the store manager said, “Now we have got the system which empowers us to serve our customer in a manner which we could not even dream of”.
Criti streamlined the implementation and roll out process to an extent where remote go-live was made possible. Then it was matter of conquering the countries. Belgium was live, so was France. Recently Morocco has gone live and team is geared up for mass roll out across multiple continents. “Critians” felt like Alexander who annexed the world map country by country…!
Criti designed a solution which would not only address all the challenges Premaman faced today, but equip them to take the business to the next level by providing futuristic retail experience to the customers.
Spectrum was built on a technology that is…
- platform independent (Windows, iPhone, iPad, Android …)
- database independent
- device independent (any UPOS compliant device)
thus providing the flexibility of having large-scale database of customer's choice at the back-end for central consolidation. Also, allowing the use of small-scale freeware databases like MySql or H2 at the store thus creating huge savings in IT infrastructure costs.
At the heart of Spectrum was single PoS (with multi-lingual interface) software running across all stores and a central consolidation engine at HQ in Belgium running on near-real-time synchronization backbone. This was further strengthened by providing full web-based access to order management, inventory management and basic supply chain functionalities to be accessed by anyone from anywhere (based on role and user authorization).
Spectrum was built to create a unified shopping experience for Premaman customers, across multiple channels by providing an integrated solution for PoS billing, Customer Loyalty Program management, e-Commerce and more. Customer would now get a single view of the product, pricing, promotion irrespective of the choice of shopping touch point. Retailer was empowered to see a single version of the truth in terms of inventory and sales across any channel of business.
It all converged into a satisfied customer with reinforced confidence in Criti's delivery capability, technology excellence, retail domain knowledge and quality of service. Criti now operates almost as an extension of Prémaman's IT function providing them technology support in areas such as ERP, e-Commerce, data centre management etc…
Criti' has an engagement model which focuses on delivering business value to the customer and not just selling a product. Prémaman case study is a perfect example of this model and establishes Criti's unique value proposition very strongly.