EXCLUSIVE: Apparel retailer The White Orchid streamlines planning

Diane Muno
Diane Muno, owner, The White Orchid

An omnichannel specialty women’s apparel and accessories retailer is eliminating manual work from the buying process.

Chain Store Age recently spoke with Diane Muno, owner of Estes, Colo.-based The White Orchid, about how the retailer is upgrading assortment planning and buying workflows using the Lightspeed Commerce solution to automate the exchange of product data with vendors.

The White Orchid operates a brick-and-mortar store in Estes, Colo., as well as a national e-commerce site.

What assortment planning issues was The White Orchid facing?

As assortment planning technology began to move forward and some brands adopted it more successfully than others, the inefficiencies could be very frustrating for everyone involved. In the buying process, it’s quite time-consuming to manually enter all the formatted data needed for the point of sale, item by item. We had to operate according to how our suppliers operated. 

Why did you select the Lightspeed Retail NuOrder Assortment solution?

Before Lightspeed purchased the company, a couple of my vendors had opted for NuOrder as their technology solution and their ordering system. When I would go to market with their products, I was able to have those items entered onto an order immediately and have a login to be able to work alongside them. 

I appreciated it, but it wasn't until Lightspeed purchased NuOrder and I could have integration into my own systems that I delved deeper into the technology to see how it could solve multiple pieces of the merchandising process, and it prompted me to talk to vendors I worked with that were using the software, as well as ask other brands if they would adopt the technology.

What results have you obtained?

Before implementing the solution, on a buying trip, I might look at several thousand styles and select 100. I'd then pick three, and they vendors would have to hold them. At the end, I would have to come back and look at all of them again, and then add items and group them in a collection. 

There was a huge amount of time invested in that from both the vendor and buyer sides. It prevented the vendors from using those samples with another buyer at the same time and required multiple reviews of the same items. 

What the NuOrder solution allowed us to do was enter items immediately. I can size a product in a couple of seconds when I get home. I know what my budget is, I know how much of a product I selected, and I can edit it from home. So I can walk away from that table in about half the time, and the vendor can move on and have another customer.

And if I want to reorder something. I don't need to wait. If a customer wants a product on a Saturday, before I had to wait till Monday to call a representative, who then had to look into their system to see availability and call me back. 

With the NuOrder solution, I can place the order immediately, regardless of what day of the week it is, and can then answer to a customer immediately. There hasn’t necessarily been an increase in sales, but there has been an increase in efficiency and satisfaction of customers who are delighted that they can be serviced within their timeframe.

On the back end, product images are all there, so when I have seasonal sales associates who don't know what products are called by their names, I can have them find things and do inventory using images. This lets associates work more independently without having to learn new knowledge.

Are there any future plans for this technology you can discuss?

I am encouraging some more apparel brands to look at it as an option, to help create some more continuity across the business. I did pick up a brand that I had been looking at for quite a while and I hadn't crossed the line to choose it, but when I saw the company used NuOrder, I decided to try the brand and I wrote orders with it for the first time this spring.

Editor’s note: Read about how Saks streamlines and automates previously manual buying and merchandising processes with Lightspeed NuOrder technology.

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