9 February 2018

The great thing about AURES hardware is reliability. We’ve tinkered with cheaper brands. But when you sell hardware, you have to support it.

AURES tills are slick, robust, they look great and we get great service, with very fast turnaround on orders and support tickets.”

Steve Waller, Managing Director

The UK fashion retail industry has undergone some seismic shifts in recent years. The post-crunch economic downturn has seen some household names disappear from the high street. And retailers big and small have had to adapt to the arrival of e-commerce, putting traditional bricks-and-mortar shops under pressure from online stores.

With its high visibility on the high street, fashion retail is often used as a barometer for the health of the economy as a whole. But while it is the fortunes of the big-name chains that grab the headlines, under the surface it is still the backbone of small, independent outlets that keep the market ticking over.

Technology has been front and centre of the changes that have swept fashion retail, and not just in the fact that consumers can now browse and buy the latest collections from their smartphones. Supporting small retailers in the adoption of new technology, from omnichannel sales platforms to the latest payment methods, is critical to keeping the UK’s SME base thriving.

And that is precisely what Chichester-based Lois Systems sets out to do.

“Our customers are independently-owned, Tier 1 and Tier 2 retailers,” said managing director Steve Waller, who co-founded Lois just over a decade ago. “The biggest have in the region of 15 to 18 outlets, but then we go right down to single store operations.

“Our focus is on fashion, but that covers quite a lot of different businesses, including footwear retailers, sports, lingerie and school uniform shops.”

In-house expertise

Steve’s own background is in fashion retail, having run a small chain of stores in the south east of England himself before setting up Lois Systems. And it is that first-hand knowledge and experience, both of fashion retail and of running a small business, which have shaped the products and services Lois provides.

Those offerings are unique in a couple of ways. First of all, the company supplies a EPOS software system that has been developed entirely in-house specifically to meet the needs of small fashion retailers. Secondly, Lois Systems also designs and builds websites for clients, linking modern point-of-sale directly to e-commerce.

Steve explained some of the ways the Lois Systems EPOS platform is customised to the needs of independent fashion retailers. “Our software operates on an open matrix database,” he said. “We designed it like this so product listings can handle a lot more detail. Instead of being limited to fitting products into a pre-set box, clients can configure the styles the way they want with no limit on sizing, colour etc. That makes the style guides more relatable to the business.

“We also built in a merchandising system based on the fact that fashion retailers buy stock six months in advance, and have limited re-stock capabilities. You therefore have to prioritise what you put out and promote based on stock levels. General EPOS systems don’t downgrade products as stock runs out, they just wait for them to be re-stocked. Our system does.”

A crucial feature of this merchandising system is that it integrates stock control across a chain of stores and an e-commerce site. “When an order is placed online, an algorithm works out the most efficient place to source stock from, taking on board demand and replenishment needs in each shop,” explained Steve.

“We build online stores for nine out of 10 clients. They offer a full range of functionality and are completely bespoke to match the needs of the business. Merchandising is fully integrated with in-store EPOS, so if stock runs out, it disappears online immediately. Product listing and marketing are also shared across EPOS and online, so you only have to input everything once. It really helps the one-man band juggle running a bricks-and-mortar store and an e-commerce site simultaneously.”

AURES Hardware

To compliment its retail software services, Lois Systems sells and installs AURES EPOS hardware terminals.

“We currently supply two AURES models,” said Steve. “We like the dedicated till approach AURES still has. The YUNO is our core product, it is simple, easy to use and aesthetically pleasing. Aesthetics are very important in a fashion environment, and we always get positive feedback from customers.

“We also offer the AURES Sango, which is a higher spec model for clients who want to do something a bit more than just run EPOS.”

Steve explained that Lois Systems offers a ‘Hot Swap’ service on EPOS terminals in the event of a failure. For £15 a month, customers are guaranteed next-day replacement of any faulty terminal, with a loan up to three months.

He said that working with AURES made offering this service viable, in part because the terminals are extremely reliable so there is never high demand for replacements, but also because the quality of service and support from AURES means that there is never any problem getting extra terminals in good time.

“The great thing about AURES hardware is reliability. We’ve tinkered with cheaper brands. But when you sell hardware, you have to support it. And to support it, you have to know it, which is part of the reason why we stick to a limited range.

“AURES tills are slick, robust, they look great and we get great service, with very fast turnaround on orders and support tickets.”

About Lois Systems

Lois Systems is a specialist technology supplier for independent fashion retailers. Based in Chichester, West Sussex, it provides EPOS and website development services for clothing, footwear and lifestyle outlets.

Its integrated point of sale and e-commerce solutions are developed completely in house and provide a single point of access for stock control, payment and retail management both in store and online. Its premium cloud-based platform can be fully customised to meet the needs of each individual business. www.lois-systems.co.uk