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5/23/2005

 
Sean John New POS/Inventory System, High-Powered Functionality Combined with Sleek Design

Mens sportswear icon, Sean John, teams up with retail systems developer, One Step Data, Inc., to build a POS/inventory system capable of handling the labels explosive growth

by Jim McMahon

With 2004 sales exceeding $300 million, Sean John, the worlds fastest growing line of mens contemporary sportswear, is a creative and marketing force to be reckoned with, to say the least, particularly since the label has only been in existence since 1998, and the line is sold through almost 2,000 wholesale distribution points in the U.S. In August 2004, Sean John opened its first retail outlet on New Yorks prestigious Fifth Avenue, with an aggressive expansion planned over the next 18 to 24 months. To deal with the logistics of this explosive growth, Sean John implemented a state-of-the-art POS and inventory control software system, teaming up with retail systems integrator, One Step Data, Inc., that not only handles the labels needs functionally, but in typical Sean John style, is also an industry showpiece.

Sean John, under the direction of Sean John Combs, alias "Puffy" and "P. Diddy", is geared to men ages 15 to 40, consisting of a complete range of lifestyle sportswear and accessories: denim, collection clothing, dress shirts neckwear, outerwear, leather goods, belts and bags, along with a full boys sportswear and clothing line. Later this year, womens collection, mens fragrance and mens footwear will be launched with great fanfare. The signature collection is produced four times a year and has quickly grown from an urban label to an international brand. The line is carried by finer department stores and specialty chain stores, such as Bloomingdales, Macys, Belks, Carson Pirie Scott, Bernini, and Nordstroms. In June of 2004, the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards held in New York, voted Combs the top menswear designer of the year for his eponymous collection.

"It is Puffys dream to have a global lifestyle brand," says Charles Soriano, Vice President of Retail for Sean John. "We have been a wholesaler since our inception seven years ago, and we continue to expand across all channels."

"The Sean John denim line is our bread and butter, with an average price point of $75," continues Mr. Soriano. "This price range encompasses a wide scope of contemporary clothing - for instance blazers, wovens, knits, t-shirts and outerwear, all for men. We also have Sean John Collection, which is more luxurious, with an average price of $175. Price points range from $125 for wovens to $595 for outerwear, and everything in between. Collection has a limited distribution, however, that was launched just last fall."

"Additionally, the opening of our first store has exceeded projections," Mr. Soriano says. "This is the first of a planned 12 -15 stores that we will be opening within the next several years."

Clearly committed to the expansion and growth of the mens marketplace and maintaining a dominant position within it, the company understood the necessity to have a comprehensive and reliable logistics system for the warehousing, inventory, distribution and retail sales management operations for the product line.

Sean John began by purchasing a state-of-the-art POS unit from IBM, the SurePOS 563. This is a very sophisticated system. Additionally, Sean John wanted a POS station look that was sleek and sexy. Each terminal has a flat, low-profile touch screen, so the POS terminals do not stand out, but blend in attractively. It fit their requirements not only for functionality, but also for aesthetics.

For the software, Sean John was looking for a well-rounded application that could not only handle POS at the store, but could also handle inventory management for the warehouse, and perform merchandise analysis. After reviewing a number of options, they selected retail systems developer, One Step Data, Inc., to configure a system to meet their requirements utilizing Retail Pro POS/inventory software. Retail Pro is the most widely used and adopted retail management software for small- to medium-sized specialty retailers throughout the world. And, One Step Data is the biggest worldwide solution provider for Retail Pro.

"We went with the Retail Pro Merchant Edition , which is their full application," explains Mr. Soriano. "We also acquired the Retail Pro Extension Suite developed by One Step Data, which offered an extensive menu of expanded CRM-type applications, features like customer mapping and Zip Code analysis. I have worked in the industry for some time and have used many retail management programs, and I believe that customer loyalty modules are tantamount to a successful business. We like to know exactly where our customers are coming from, and what they are buying."

"Understanding who your customers are, what they want and how they buy is crucial information for any retailer if they want to grow their business," continues Mr. Soriano. "That has always been a challenge retailers have faced in this business - collection of information, and understanding how to configure and manipulate your system to get the numbers that you need to analyze your business, your situation, and the ability to access that information easily. This capability is valuable to a retailer."

The Retail Pro Merchant Edition installed for Sean John provides point of sale, inventory control, and customer relations functions, as well as additional special functions. Point of sale: POS cash drawer and receipt functions; integrated credit card processing; instant customer data; layaways and special orders; item quantity and price lookup; and POS summary reports. Inventory control: stock on hand, in transit, and on order; purchase orders, receiving and ticketing; inter-store transfers and distribution; open to buy forecaster; flash query online analysis, graphs and multi-media; pricing and markdowns; reports; and physical inventory. Customer relations: customer lists and mailings; preferred customer pricing; gift registry, mail order and catalog. Special functions: electronic data interchange (EDI); employee and commission tracking; accounting link; multi-store management tools; new-! or small-store option; data interchange to any other system; international retail capacity.

The One Step Data Extension Suite for Sean John provides additional CRM features that enhance and expand the above functions. Extension Suite enhanced CRM functions: automated price levels; no tax promo; gift receipt printing; phone number formatting; Zip Code tracking; receipt ship-to customer; customer mapping; return enhancements; receipt custom comments; bulk emailing; and suggested sales prompt.

Also included in the set-up for Sean John is an Integrated Payment Processing Module (PPM) to streamline the POS environment. This allows for a sales associate, at the point of sale, to swipe a credit card directly through the terminal. It is actually integrated through the PPRS system, instead of having a separate, free-standing card terminal.

"The POS/inventory system that One Step Data put together for Sean John is state-of-the-art when it comes to versatility and functionality," says Scott Kreisberg, President of One Step Data. "The Extension Suite, for example, provides customer loyalty functions for the mid-sized retailer that cannot be found anywhere else, applications that can give a retailer a decisive competitive edge in their market."

"We worked closely with Sean John to design the exact system requirements that they needed," Kreisberg continues. "Sean John system was designed for scalability and growth. It works superbly for their one-store and inventory operations now, but is also completely versatile in application within a multiple-store architecture, which, of course, they are planning to develop. As a retailers needs change, the software also allows for us to provide custom programming. So, in essence, working from the basic Retail Pro model, we can customize to any retailers specific circumstances at any time. This provides for a high level of flexibility in future design modifications for Sean John."

The retail apparel market has always been fast moving, extremely competitive and studded with brilliant designers. For those that are striving to streamline costs, reduce shrinkage, capture more market share, or just hold on to what they have, inventory and POS logistics precision has become a vital organizational component in the mix. Sean John has embraced this concept, as Mr. Soriano indicates, "We feel that this system has not only serviced our needs well on the retail operations side, but has also serviced our needs on the financial end with a strong return on investment." The One Step Data, Retail Pro system will undoubtedly provide a stronger base for Puffy to capture even more market share in 2005 and beyond.

One Step Data services over 1,000 clients, many of them in the mid-tier retailing market. For more information on their POS/inventory Retail Pro solutions and support for retailers, please contact Kevin McAdam at One Step Data, Inc., at 320 West Arden Ave., Suite #110, Glendale, CA 91203; 818-543-4777; Fax 818-242-8599; email kmcadam@onestepdata.com; or visit their web site at www.onestepdata.com

To reach Sean John please contact Charles Soriano, Vice President of Retail; 1710 Broadway, New York, NY 10019; 212-500-2200; or visit their website at www.seanjohn.com

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Jim McMahon writes on supply chain systems and technology.

For More Information Contact:

Dave Kushin
Media Representative
Zebra Communications
1409 Kuehner Drive
Santa Susana, CA 93063
727-443-2782
Fax: 805-955-0003
Email: freedave@tampabay.rr.com




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