French Solution Firm Takes Thoroughly Modern Approach to Retail

Brands and retailers can confidently put their stock in OneStock — just ask LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Pimkie, Reiss or Ted Baker, all of whom rely on the platform for its swift omnichannel inventory software suite and unified shopping experience it creates for end consumers.

But platform aside, the France-based solution firm’s strongest play is its thoroughly modern take on engaging brands and shoppers. For example, of late, OneStock has taken to leveraging remote shopping for its brand partners, where customers and sales assistants can interact with a personalized flair via Zoom or a FaceTime call.

Or consider its recent #SaveShops campaign, which takes aim at increasing awareness of in-store services throughout the U.K. that support safer shopping experiences for customers, whilst safeguarding millions of retail jobs throughout the holiday season. Its #SaveShops hashtag guides consumers to a new online hub that supplies a list of U.K. brands offering options such as click and collect, reserve and collect and assisted remote shopping with a store staff employee, as well as home delivery, the brand explained.

And, impressively, the brand has about eight technology releases each year.

Here, Romulus Grigoras, chief executive officer of OneStock, talks to WWD about its solution specially designed for the modern shopper, evolving consumer needs and behaviors, and how the pandemic has “significantly changed the retail sector.”

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WWD: Tell me about the genesis of OneStock. What’s the story behind the brand?

Romulus Grigoras: OneStock was launched in 2015 after 10 years of research and development by Benoit Baccot, Vincent Charvillat and myself when we were university professors in mathematics and artificial intelligence research. At the time, our research was centered around the personalization of customer experience on e-commerce web sites.

The idea for OneStock came from discussions with a retailer who was seeing strong online sales growth, but finding it difficult to decide how much stock to allocate to its e-commerce channel compared to its stores and concessions.

At the time, most retailers thought of their web site as “a store” rather than a component of an omnichannel customer proposition. Instead of trying to approach this from a forecasting perspective, we looked at the problem differently and said, “what if we could just fulfill online orders from stock held in any location, rather than having to pre-allocate a specific amount to e-commerce?” Creating this unified view of stock enables retailers to offer a range of services such as ship from store, order in-store and click and collect that optimize sales, maximize margin and enhance customer satisfaction through higher product availability.

Since we launched OneStock, the importance of offering an omnichannel experience has become better understood within the retail industry, while consumers now expect high availability together with quick and convenient delivery/collection options as standard. That said, many retailers are still constrained by systems that require data to be segmented, making it impossible to have a comprehensive view of stock which is necessary to deliver a true omnichannel experience. OneStock augments the retailer’s existing systems to enable this visibility, which in turn drives sales, margin and customer satisfaction.

Romulus Grigoras, chief executive officer of OneStock. 

WWD: How is OneStock’s solution differentiated in the market? What about its platform/services is unique?

R.G.: OneStock provides a modern innovative software suite, designed for retailers and brands. Based on a unified view of stock that is held across every touchpoint including distribution centers [DCs] warehouses and stores, our agile order management system [OMS] technology enables orders from every sales channel to be fulfilled from any stock-holding location.

Much of our differentiation stems from our deep retail expertise that recognizes the practicalities of retail, particularly in stores where stock sometimes gets mislabeled, damaged or even stolen. Understanding these challenges has enabled us to design a solution with built-in resilience to overcome these issues and ensure orders can be accurately fulfilled.

Our software suite is modular, so its features can be activated sequentially based on maximum ROI. This promotes speed to value by reducing implementation times (generally three to six months). As a cloud-native, SaaS solution, we are continually enhancing our offering. For example, we recently launched a Delivery Promise module that uses a real-time calculation to provide the consumer with the best range of available delivery methods during checkout.

For example, if the customer wants to click and collect and I have the item in stock at the location they want to collect from, I can offer a collection within an hour. If they want to collect from another store that doesn’t have the item but is close by, I may be able to ship it and offer a collection later the same day, but if I need to ship the item from a DC, I may only be able to offer a next-day collection.

In addition to the core functional capabilities, we have also focused on making the in-store elements of our solution highly intuitive with minimal training required. This is important in fashion retail where staff turnover can be high and temporary staff are often engaged for peak trading periods. The simplicity of our apps and user experience receives very positive feedback from store associates, customer service departments and head offices thanks to its ergonomic and intuitive interface.

WWD: Have brand/consumer needs changed during the pandemic? What are brands doing differently? Has omnichannel reached a new level of importance?

R.G.: The pandemic has significantly changed the retail sector. In-store footfall is lower than ever and there is a considerable boost in e-commerce sales which has led retailers to rethink their strategies. They can no longer afford to view their stores and online sales channels as separate platforms. The need for agile omnichannel order management is stronger than ever.

Capabilities like ship from store, click and collect, reserve and collect, delivery promise and in-store appointments are becoming must-haves if retailers want to remain profitable when access to stock has been impacted by mandated lockdowns and a general reduction in store visits.

Retailers that use OneStock have been able to quickly adapt to these challenges. For example, a store that is not allowed to open to shoppers can still serve as a mini-DC or “dark store” to fulfill online orders from stock held in that location. Similarly, stores that are closed to the public can still provide a same-day click and collect service for items in stock, even if there is disruption further up the supply chain.

Because OneStock determines the optimal fulfillment option, stores with high stock levels can be prioritized for online fulfillment, reducing the volume of markdowns required to clear end of season items. This is particularly relevant where countries have seen regional lockdowns such as the U.K., where a retailer may, for example, have had to close stores in Wales, while those in England or Scotland have remained open.

The shift towards online from store-based sales has been ubiquitous and there is no question that those retailers with the flexibility to adjust their fulfillment strategies have been best placed to adapt. An agile OMS sits at the heart of this capability.

Image courtesy of OneStock. 

WWD: What are some of the creative stories you can share about brands’ experiences with OneStock?

R.G.: Now, more than ever, retailers need an agile OMS to stay profitable and we are helping global brands such as Ted Baker, Whistles, Intersport and LVMH thrive across all sales channels.

Fashion retailer Whistles has boosted online sales by 10 percent after introducing OneStock’s ship from store technology, with 15 percent of its e-commerce orders now managed this way. Meanwhile, Ted Baker has fulfilled an extra 101,000 online orders in the first year after it started to ship them from some of its U.K. stores — representing an 8 percent increase in its e-commerce turnover.

“OneStock’s capabilities are enabling us to broaden the e-commerce offering in our stores, driving margin through extra sales along with the improved management of our total inventory,” said Clare Harrison-Empson, Director of Operations at Ted Baker. “Ship from store is now a must-have for every omnichannel retailer.”

OneStock is working with brands to implement tactical techniques that provide an optimal experience across all channels. Phase Eight has launched an online initiative to enable customers to pre-book in-store personal shopping appointments, providing a safe and enriched shopping experience. By capturing preferences, the retailer is building a valuable data-rich CRM profile that store staff can leverage.

OneStock is part of luxury conglomerate LVMH’s start-up accelerator for technology businesses and is currently helping one of LVMH’s fashion brands in the U.S. to implement a delivery promise function to enrich the omnichannel shopping experience.

WWD: What’s next for OneStock?

R.G.: OneStock keeps innovating and improving. With this in mind, we have approximately eight technology releases per year. One example of this is in marketplaces, where we are working on simplifying order management from different warehouses and improving the delivery promise for marketplace vendors.

We are also currently partnering with brands to leverage remote shopping, whereby a sales assistant can advise customers who are unable or do not wish to go to a store with personalized recommendations, and place orders via a Zoom or FaceTime call.

We are also continually adding new features to our existing solutions to improve customer service, facilitate returns and re-shipments, and give more visibility regarding order execution.

Our focus is always on being customer-centric, agile and user-friendly to help our retail clients be more profitable and sustainable. Business intelligence is becoming an increasingly important axis to help retailers analyze their data and optimize profitability, and we are looking at ways to help retailers leverage this.

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