Retailer gets help from start-ups to manage sales and inventory

Children's clothing label Chateau de Sable will get some ideas to tackle its business challenges, thanks to an effort by DBS. Some of the people involved in the initiative are (from left): Ms Chloe Huang, programme manager, DBS BusinessClass; Mr Rajr
Children's clothing label Chateau de Sable will get some ideas to tackle its business challenges, thanks to an effort by DBS. Some of the people involved in the initiative are (from left): Ms Chloe Huang, programme manager, DBS BusinessClass; Mr Rajroshan Sawhney, business director, ViSenze; Ms Stephanie Lemaire, founder of Chateau de Sable, and Ms Pauline Quah, managing director, DBS SME Banking.PHOTO: DBS

A fast-growing Singapore children's clothing label that has problems with inventory and data management has thrown down a challenge to two start-ups that might have the solution.

Chateau de Sable still uses Microsoft Excel for its orders and inventories, and collects customer data for direct marketing purposes the old-fashioned way, by writing it down in notebooks.

Ms Stephanie Lemaire, the French founder of the clothing label, told The Straits Times: "It's always a retail challenge to manage the inventory - what is a 'good' seller, what is the best-seller, how to order for fast-selling stores, or stop orders for slow-selling items.

"The second problem would be how to push the stock around the world, as I'm working with 11 countries and 25 shops... it depends on if they are a summer or winter country."

So the firm has challenged two start-ups to come up with a solution.

The initiative, which is part of a a DBS Bank programme that connects small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups with experts in various fields, has also helped local electronics giant Gain City.

The proof of the pudding will come today when ViSenze and StoreHub present their solutions to Chateau de Sable at the DBS-organised Retail Disrupt @ the Bay.

Mr Lim Chu Chong, DBS' head of SME banking, said the idea was to show how retailers can reap benefits from new technologies.

"We realised that one of the hurdles as to why they are not adopting technologies as quickly as they had wanted, is actually a lack of awareness of the technologies out there," he added.

ViSenze, a Singapore image recognition firm, uses visual technology to allow customers to browse for an outfit using a photograph of a similar item they like. It also employs elements of location tracking.

Business director Rajroshan Sawhney said: "The idea we came up with for the firm would mean that it doesn't matter if the customer is going online or offline."

Malaysia-based StoreHub, which offers solutions in the areas of point of sale, inventory and customer relationship management, suggests the label put its information into a central cloud database.

StoreHub co-founder Fong Wai Hong said this would allow the firm to track consumer movements - like when they last visited the store, for instance - or stock.

After the start-ups present their solutions, the next step will be to work out the details of implementing the ideas.

Mr Sawhney hopes that the two start-ups can integrate their solutions into one.

"If you have a real-time inventory system, it becomes very easy for the user to find something near them or check the availability of the product or if you have a real-time kind of index for Chateau to see what stocks are selling fast."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2015, with the headline 'Retailer gets help from start-ups to manage sales and inventory'. Print Edition | Subscribe