Bernard Chaus innovates with fashion trend analysis

Using a cloud-based solution backed by IBM to improve retail visibility and decision making

Published on 14-Nov-2012

"The sheer fact that we have IBM hardware and software with SKYPAD has given us the analytics capabilities to gain a big advantage over our competitors." - Henry Thervil, president of sales for Vince Camuto, Bernard Chaus

Customer:
Bernard Chaus

Industry:
Retail

Deployment country:
United States

Solution:
SmartCloud - Foundation, Smarter Computing

IBM Business Partner:
Sky I.T. Group

Overview

Based in New York, NY, Bernard Chaus specializes in creating an extensive range of women’s career and casual sportswear. With fashion collections available in a wide range of department stores including Macy’s, Nordstrom and Neiman-Marcus, Bernard Chaus manages sales, marketing, design and production for its brands.

Business need:
Bernard Chaus, a fashion design company, needed to improve its visibility into sales for a large collection of brands and products sold in a wide range of retail stores. The company needed a new and efficient way to collect data in various formats, analyze it and provide insightful information to employees to improve short- and long-term decision making.

Solution:
Bernard Chaus deployed the SKYPAD solution to collect, analyze and display retail sales information. Supported by IBM infrastructure hosted by IBM Premier Business Partner Sky I.T. Group, the cloud-based solution provides the company with powerful business analytics capabilities to generate business insights to enable smart and timely decision making.

Benefits:
The IBM solution improved sales and reduced retail markdowns by nearly 30 percent, provided timely access to and analysis of sales data and helped to improve weekly, seasonal and year-to-year decision making.

Case Study

Click here to view the Bernard Chaus feature on the Smarter Computing Blog

Based in New York, NY, Bernard Chaus specializes in creating an extensive range of women’s career and casual sportswear. With fashion collections available in a wide range of department stores including Macy’s, Nordstrom and Neiman-Marcus, Bernard Chaus manages sales, marketing, design and production for its brands.

Making sense of retail sales data

To remain competitive in the fashion industry, Bernard Chaus requires a deep visibility into its retail performance. For the company to make intelligent business decisions, it needs to have timely access to the right information such as seasonal sales trends. But simply having the right information at the right time does not always lead to clear insights—not if the information is hard to interpret and use.

The company was finding it difficult to analyze its retail reports, which include sales and transaction data. According to Henry Thervil, president of sales for the Vince Camuto brand at Bernard Chaus, “Each retailer would send us a sales report, but the data would be in different formats. It was impossible to pull all of the information together.” To help improve its sales-analysis process, the company began looking for a new technology solution.

Providing an efficient and accessible solution

When it began evaluating options, the company found that many solutions were capable of consolidating sales data, but the reports they generated were in spreadsheet form and difficult to use. However, one solution offered a cloud-based tool with business analytics capabilities that focused on ease of use. The SKYPAD solution from IBM Premier Business Partner Sky I.T. Group, based in New York, NY, enables users to view and analyze retail point-of-sale data through a dashboard interface. This solution, which runs on IBM infrastructure hosted by Sky I.T. Group, offered Bernard Chaus the analytics capabilities it needed to make sense of sales data and generate business insight. Recognizing this opportunity, the company decided to move forward with the SKYPAD solution.

After a relatively quick implementation, Bernard Chaus began using SKYPAD to view and analyze the data collected from individual retailers and also from its own retail web portal and enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. By using the tool’s dashboard, employees can create a wide range of graphical views and reports including information such as weekly, store-by-store sales and product markdowns. This combination of usability with analytics functions helps the company make timely decisions such as whether or not to produce more of a certain product or engage with retailers about markdowns.

The hosted infrastructure behind these IT capabilities includes an IBM® POWER® server, which Sky I.T. Group uses to run the SKYPAD application (using data collected from the ERP and retail point of sale systems) and IBM DB2® software running on IBM BladeCenter® servers to power the SKYPAD database. Regarding one of the solution’s advantages, Thervil comments, “The sheer fact that we have IBM hardware and software with SKYPAD has given us the analytics capabilities to gain a big advantage over our competitors.”

Connecting with retailers and consumers on new levels

Since the solution was implemented, Bernard Chaus has improved collaboration with retailers and increased efficiency in its trend analysis. This has enabled the company to move swiftly to replenish items or proactively work with retailers to drive additional sales. The solution also helps the company make predictive decisions to optimize its product mix, drive sales and manage inventory.

By using the SKYPAD dashboard to study year-to-year sales trends, Bernard Chaus was able to improve long-term analyses. For example, the company found that moving the start date for sweater sales in certain markets from September to October not only would provide greater sales, but also would help prevent markdowns on sweaters that remained in stock for too long. “There’s a seasonality behind our products, and timing is important. If they’re not working we’ve got to mark them down,” says Thervil. So far, the solution has helped Bernard Chaus improve sales and reduce its gross retail markdowns by nearly 30 percent.

Continuing to set trends in technology

Although Bernard Chaus has used its solution to analyze historical sales data, the company hopes to begin using predictive analytics to identify upcoming sales trends. This may be possible in the near future, as Sky I.T. Group has partnered with IBM to integrate IBM SPSS® analytics software into a new SKYPAD offering. By running this new solution on its POWER server—which provides an optimal platform to run SPSS—Bernard Chaus could begin to use predictive analytics to unlock new business opportunities.

Having worked with IBM for many years, both Bernard Chaus and Sky I.T. Group recognize the advantage of this unique partnership. And by implementing solutions that enable the company to get closer to retailers and consumers than ever before, Bernard Chaus has become an inspiring and successful technology trendsetter in the fashion industry.

For more information

To learn more about Smarter Computing from IBM and how we can help you integrate, automate, protect and transform your IT, contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit: ibm.com/smartercomputing

To learn more about IBM Premier Business Partner Sky I.T. Group, please visit: skyitgroup.com
For more information about Bernard Chaus, please visit: bernardchaus.com

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
BladeCenter, Power Systems

Software:
DB2 Enterprise 9

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation IBM Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America November 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, POWER, BladeCenter, and DB2 are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.