Phase Eight is now able to fulfil online orders from store when its distribution centre is out of stock, after implementing Devatics' OneStock solution.

Previously, Phase Eight's eCommerce orders were only fulfilled from its distribution centre, limiting stock availability. When customers wished to purchase a piece of clothing which was out of stock in the DC, the retailer was unable to fulfil the order from one of its 109 physical stores which may carry the item.

Phase Eight's IT and eCommerce director, Guy Tambling, told Essential eCommerce the cross-channel stock management tool generated incremental sales of £1 million within the first eight weeks of using the Devatics solution.

"By definition, that stock wouldn't have been available otherwise, but it does to a degree cannibalise physical store sales. We think over the full year it's going to add around £11 million of sales – and £9 million of that will be incremental."

A fifth of stores sales are now accounted for from eCommerce orders which are dispatched from a Phase Eight store.

Tambling explained that while an item is out of stock in the Phase Eight DC, a number of stores may have the product and are therefore encouraged to "claim" the customer's online order. The customer is not aware they are being offered the garment from a store rather than the DC, and Phase Eight ensures that at least three stores must have the item for the customer to be able to proceed with the order – this allows for in-store products which may be faulty of reserved for other shoppers.

"It's near real-time stock accuracy," added Tambling.

The order and payment is taken as normal and stores then have a chance to claim the order. The first store to claim receives the credit for the sale and stores are also encouraged to fulfil online orders through a bonus scheme. The Devatics solution prints an address label and orders a courier as soon as the store claims the order.

"We've devolved the responsibility of stock movement to the stores," said Tambling, who explained the solutions sits on the store till systems and in-store iPads.

Phase Eight – whose parent company Foschini bought Whistles last week – went to tender for the solution and after a successful bid, Devatics partnered with BT Expedite to deliver the project in August last year. 

While the retailer had worked with Devatics on behavioural marketing projects in the past, it was still surprised with the company's speed and agility at deploying OneStock.

"The other quotes we got back from the tender were from exorbitant to slightly crazy, and the time frames were bonkers," said Tambling, who also noted that off-the-shelf suppliers were not always platform agnostic, while Devatics was easily integrated with Phase Eight's Fresca eCommerce platform.

"With other providers, it required quite significant changes to our structure, which would have been much more expensive and risky," he added, saying the Devatics implementation was a "five figure project, not even a six figure project".

"They really do have a 'can-do' attitude and any modifications happen in days, rather than weeks and months – while it took only two months for the concept to go live, when other solutions take 12 months."

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