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Mobile Solution Optimises CTM's Shop Floors

Mobile Solution Optimises CTM's Shop Floors

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Mobile solution optimises CTM’s shop floors

Executive Summary
Shopping at CTM – South Africa’s largest tile and bathroom retailer – is different from shopping in any other retail environment. This is thanks to the mostly heavy and bulky products sold in-store, which can’t be loaded into shopping trolleys and checked out as usual. For sales staff, this created significant challenges in terms of helping customers select, price, check stock, and purchase products – a time-consuming and cumbersome manual process that often required scurrying between customers and fixed point-of-sale computers. Also stock-counting and -control in the business’ back-end storage areas were inefficient and relied too heavily on human accuracy. Enterprise mobility was the way to go. Britehouse – a Dimension Data company – helped CTM implement a mobile solution that included hand-held point-of-sale devices with built-in barcode scanners, fully integrated with the business’ SAP back-end. The results were a 50% increase in sales volume handled by each salesperson, an 80% faster stock-taking process and a significantly streamlined customer experience that provided a distinct competitive advantage.

Client Overview
With close to 100 stores countrywide, CTM – an Italtile subsidiary – is South Africa’s largest specialist tile and bathroom retailer. CTM also has a presence in Australia, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho. The company currently employees approximately 1,200 employees and its wide product range caters for various segments of the market.

Business Challenge
As a major retailer of tiling and sanitary ware, CTM faced many challenges owing to the heavy, bulky and immovable nature of the products it sold to customers. CTM’s shop floors are mainly used for sample display purposes, with actual stock kept in back-end storage areas. The implication is that sales staff guiding customers through the heavily consultative decision-making, pricing, stock-checking, and sales process had no immediate view of available stock levels in-store. A complicated sale covering a range of products and elements would therefore be time-consuming to conclude. The salesperson would often need to write down relevant product barcodes, and scurry back and forth between the customer and a fixed point-of-sale computer to check availability and price. Human error was also a concern, as sales staff had to make complicated calculations manually to help the customer work out how much stock was needed to, for example, cover a specified area with tiles or determine the quantity of adhesive or grouting required.

In addition to cumbersome sales, CTM was also challenged by inefficient stock checking processes. These were heavily dependent on the accuracy of manual counting and data comparisons, which was both time-consuming and carried a high risk of human error. Most importantly, CTM wanted to find a way of boosting its customers’ overall shopping experience while they conduct business in store, ensuring greater speed, accuracy and customer satisfaction.

“Britehouse doesn’t look at enterprise mobility simply from a SAP perspective. They have a solutions-centric approach. So they designed a solution based on what we as the client needed.”
Tim Meara, IT Manager for Italtile / CTM

The Way Forward
CTM approached Britehouse, a Dimension Data company, to help it find an appropriate technology solution to meet its challenges. This project – and investment of ZAR 10.6 million on CTM’s part – was a continuation of the collaboration between the businesses, which began several years ago when Britehouse first helped CTM to successfully implement a SAP solution. The next evolutionary step, following point-of-sale mobility, is to integrate more options for customers to complete their full pricing, quoting and purchasing online.

Solution Delivered
Britehouse Mobile assisted CTM to select an appropriate hand-held device that would best serve its mobility needs. The criteria were that the devices should be robust enough to handle everyday use by sales staff, incorporate a built-in scanner for quick and easy barcode scanning, offer a variety of useful supporting functions and integrate seamlessly with the business’ back-end SAP system to form an end-to-end point-of-sale solution. The selected mobile point-of-sale devices use infrared technology for barcode scanning, which also enables them to be used for fast, accurate and efficient stocktaking and spot checks. They accurately track and display all stock levels in real time – both in-store, and in other nearby stores should the stock be unavailable in the customer’s store of choice. No data is kept on the devices themselves, as they’re connected to CTM’s back-end infrastructure via a private Wi-Fi network in each store. This is to guarantee always-on connectivity, even in the remotest of store locations where national cellular networks are not always reliable. The devices can either print out a full and detailed quote for the customer by connecting wirelessly to a nearby printer, or process the transaction immediately by connecting to a credit card machine in-store. Once the transaction has been processed, packing, delivery and collection specifications for various products are communicated to the warehouse where the stock is kept, completing the end-to-end sales process.

Services Provided
Britehouse Mobile was responsible for helping CTM plan and implement the mobile point-of-sale solution across its stores, once the Wi-Fi networks were installed. Gerard Solfianos, Managing Director of Britehouse Mobility, explains the organisation’s method as follows: “We approach mobility strategically by defining all the operational elements in the organisation that can be enhanced with mobility, designing a common architecture founded on appropriate technology that’s capable of embracing and supporting these elements. Then we deploy modular solutions in order of priority so that, as with CTM, organisations will enjoy significant benefits as soon as possible.”

Value Derived
The mobile point-of-sale solution implemented by Britehouse Mobile has brought significant business benefits in terms of optimising CTM’s shop floor. The use of the new handheld devices has resulted in a 50% increase in sales volume handled by each salesperson thanks to the time efficiencies and on-the-go stock- and price-checking capabilities. Stock-taking processes have also seen a massive 80% reduction in time required to complete, plus greater data accuracy due to fewer human errors. With this solution as the first of its kind in South Africa, CTM holds a competitive advantage over its peers in terms of providing customers with a more efficient and streamlined shopping experience overall.

Differentiators
Tim Meara, IT Manager for CTM’s parent organisation, Italtile, says: “We used Britehouse Mobility as our implementation partners, because they’ve been our SAP integrators for some years and had the knowledge needed to integrate the mobile solution into our SAP system. But Britehouse doesn’t look at enterprise mobility simply from a SAP perspective. They have a solutions-centric approach. So they designed a solution based on what we as the client needed.”