IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that NYC-based apparel manufacturer Bernard Chaus is using business analytics to improve sales, analyze in-season buying trends, and track the hottest selling products by store — down to style, size and color.
Retailers are increasingly looking to analytics technology to better predict and prepare for holiday shopping trends, make in-season changes and maximize their end of year sales. In the case of Bernard Chaus, business analytics technology is helping the company swiftly respond to consumer demand, and improve margin performance by significantly reducing its quarterly sales revenue losses from marked down inventory by nearly 50% over the past year.
Bernard Chaus, Inc., a mid-size manufacturer and distributor of women’s career and casual sportswear, was looking to streamline its sales and merchandising efforts and create a detailed, accurate view of weekly sales trends for their decision makers. With previous manual data collection processes and Excel spreadsheets, there was no guarantee that sales information was correct or all inclusive, compromising the company’s ability to react to fluctuations in sales.
Working with IBM and IBM Business Partner SKY I.T. Group, the company developed an analytics-based solution called SkyPAD that provides a weekly report of key business metrics via a web-based dashboard. The dashboard enables improved decision making across product pricing, assortment design, production and distribution. Using the system, Chaus can quickly spot fast selling items, shift products between stores, adjust pricing and make in-season adjustments based on proven consumer demand. Chaus also has the capability to instantly compare profit margins across different retail outlets to identify future brand positioning strategies.
“Business analytics technology provides tremendous value, especially as we look to expand our global operations,” said Ed Eskew, Chief Information Officer at Bernard Chaus. “Although merchandise has been already produced for the holiday season, both suppliers and retailers are able to harness the power of business intelligence to get our products off the retail floor faster. In fact, SkyPAD has become as mission critical as our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, and in some cases, even more so.”
Built on Sky IT Group’s business intelligence platform and using IBM DB2 software and BladeCenter servers, the solution has helped transform Bernard Chaus into a forward-looking, intelligent and connected enterprise. SkyPAD’s predictive analytics features help Bernard Chaus more accurately determine production schedules based on projections and initial sales in season.
Bernard Chaus also plans to integrate all of its company data and link to overseas manufacturing facilities in order to create a comprehensive view of the entire supply chain down to the actual cutting of piece goods. By extending the technology throughout the company’s operations, Bernard Chaus aims to decrease production lag time and more quickly adjust its cutting plans to sales trends.
“Real-time insights are helping Bernard Chaus keep its finger on the pulse of the fast moving, fashion industry,” said Andy Monshaw, general manager of IBM’s midmarket business. “IBM is focused on providing clients with higher value capabilities that help them transform how they develop products, support customers and innovate in the markets in which they compete.”
IBM continues to expand its multi-billion dollar investment in the business analytics and optimization market. Over the past five years, IBM has invested more than $14 billion in 24 analytics acquisitions. Today, more than 8,000 IBM business consultants and 200 researchers are dedicated to analytics.
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