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E.Leclerc Textile testimonials

"Alkemics is working with Leclerc and its suppliers on the digitization of data for clothing items"

E.Leclerc Textile testimonials

“Like the major national brands, small brands also need help in digitizing their product catalogs”

Thomas O’Connell

IT Manager, GALEC

The main benefits:

A system that is shared by the 600 stores

A system that is adapted for clothing

The involvement of suppliers

A system that can be used by suppliers regardless of their size

A further step towards the standardization of data pooling

A system that can obtain data from clothing suppliers

Alkemics is working with Leclerc and its suppliers on the digitization of data for clothing items.Alkemics has been partnering with the Leclerc brand since 2019 and together they have been pooling product data sheets and prices obtained from suppliers on the European market. This project also involves the Le Galec clothing suppliers who manage product data sheets for leading players in the clothing industry. The following testimonial is by Leslie Francisco, who was in charge of business applications and new systems integration at Le Galec at a time when all suppliers had adopted this new method. 

Le Galec, the central procurement office of the Breton brand, manages 600 stores, 600 click-and-collect stores and 2,400 specialist stores (DIY, gardening, car, optical, cultural, personal care, etc.) in addition to a number of specialist sites (wine, high-tech, culture, car rental, etc.), and generated a turnover of €38.85 million in 2019. This vast product range incorporates both food and non-food items, including clothing, as well as accessories and shoes. The product information covered by this broad range is difficult to manage and includes many specific features.

A shared system for managing product data

A decision was made in July 2020 to reorganize the internal management of product information relating to clothing items. “We found that, even though the existing systems were working, we needed to consider how to develop a shared system that could be beneficial for everyone,” explains Leslie Francisco, head of business applications and new systems integration at Le Galec.Organizing the catalog involves a huge amount of work in terms of data management.” What are the specific issues that these departments have to address? As Leslie Francisco puts it, “You can’t sell clothes in the same way as you would sell a tin of peas.”. Given the different sizes, colors and the diversity of the ranges (clothing as well as accessories and shoes, etc.), it was important to have a good understanding of specific product information before launching the project.

“The most important detail is the management of sizes and colors,” explains Leslie Francisco. A product can be managed according to the model, in which case a model of pants generates a certain barcode whatever its color and size. But a product can also be managed according to size or color and, in this case, a model of pants will have as many barcodes as there are sizes and colors.”


Multiple features associated with categories, suppliers and logistics

A further problem arises which is associated specifically with the product category, as products are managed differently depending on the supplier and logistics! Multiple parameters need to be taken into consideration in this context. Some 300 suppliers, including many SMEs, and 30,000 to 40,000 products have to be taken into account. It took nine months to obtain the involvement of suppliers and one month in the case of sports items. 

The brand decided therefore to opt for a management system based on color and size for the so-called permanent collection, namely lingerie, babies’ wear, socks and household linen. “This enables us to analyze purchases and sales based on size and color so that we know what actually works. This is a real advantage for this type of product which is remains in stock for years” In other words, the stocks adapt to the orders. 

On the other hand, little or no restocking is required for seasonal products (clothing, shoes, nightwear, slippers, etc.). However, “The data is collected very early on, sometimes a year before the launch of the collection,” points out Thomas O’Connell, IT Manager at Le Galec.

A different management process is used for suppliers of spectacles. Although every pair of sunglasses is allocated a price A and every pair of prescription spectacles price B and so on, the barcode is the same. Multi-product boxes are another example of a particular case in which a different management method is required. Working with brands on the digitization of clothing items 

For Thomas O’Connell, the main benefit of the Alkemics platform is that it provides a system that centralizes and organizes data regardless of the product. “The transformation of the clothing sector is in its infancy,” says O’Connell. “Like the major national brands, small brands also need help in digitizing their product catalog.”

One of the main challenges of the project was for Alkemics to involve suppliers from the clothing and sports sectors. For Leslie Francisco, obtaining support was a key factor in determining the success of the project because of the transformation involved. She stresses that “Those who were already familiar with the systems quickly understood the purpose of the project and the platform. However, there is a need for some advance training for suppliers, especially for those people who work specifically on data entry.”. A number of webinars which are offered on a regular basis have been developed specifically for suppliers. “We took part in an hour-long video training course, after which we were given a document containing the implementation process as well as the platform’s rules and user instructions,” explains Julie Delriu, sales administration manager at Chauss Europ, one of the brand’s suppliers. 

“Over the past few months, we have identified a number of business issues of which we were not previously aware,” says Leslie Francisco. “The Alkemics teams have shown that they can respond very quickly, with enthusiasm and patience, using processes which involve multiple milestones and synchronization. We have also seen some excellent results in the babies’ wear and women’s wear categories.”


Empowering suppliers to digitize their data

The project can also help suppliers to manage GTINs (Global Trade Identification Number). “We used to generate barcodes for suppliers in our internal system. Model and size / color barcodes are mandatory irrespective of the product management system,” points out Leslie Francisco. 

With Alkemics, suppliers can generate their own barcodes (or EAN codes). This is a welcome change for Thomas O’Connell: “Our teams can focus on their job.” Suppliers, for their part, have the assurance of being able to digitize data independently, which is a latent trend that is essential and necessary for the standardization of the product data management process. For suppliers such as Chauss Europe who already generate their own GTINs, this does not present any difficulty. 

The next step will be to ensure that suppliers permanently stop using alternative data entry systems so that they only have one system at their disposal, namely the Alkemics platform. “It is an interesting system, especially for products that are recommended every year,” adds Julie Delriu.In the medium term, a significant amount of time will be saved, and this will only improve further if every brand uses the same system!”

Furthermore, a platform like Alkemics can be used to pool data for the entire product catalog, including both food and non-food items, covering a huge number of segments. This omnichannel vision has become essential in terms of increasing e-commerce sales, which is one of the major challenges facing the post-crisis retail sector. Of the 600 Leclerc stores selling clothing, 400 have already launched a click-and-collect service.

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