ASDA George revolutionises retail planning & VM

How leading UK fast fashion brand ASDA George uses Visual Retailing’s powerful software suite to modernise and future-proof its retail processes - gaining unparalleled efficiency, simplicity, and speed.

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As the only place where the George brand is sold, one of ASDA’s main goals is to deliver a level of ‘inspiration and excitement’ for their legions of loyal shoppers.

But with hundreds of different sized stores across the UK, it becomes difficult to effectively plan their upcoming collections and merchandise in the same manner across each location.

A modernisation of their whole planning and visual merchandising process was therefore required in order to save time, money and deliver the right level of inspiration to their shoppers. 

"We want to give them the level of inspiration and excitement that they require. However, that’s very difficult without technology to deliver that to 10,000 colleagues...and display it to the same way that we started out with when we did the design brief" says Mark Matthews, Senior Director Retail, Supply & Central Operations at ASDA George.

However, Matthews adds: “We found with the technology we were using at the time, we weren’t able to deliver that for every store.” meaning Visual Retailing's technology and expertise was sought after in order to keep things consistent - and most importantly, efficient. 

 
We want to give them the level of inspiration and excitement that they require. However, that’s very difficult without technology to deliver that to 10,000 colleagues...and display it to the same way that we started out with when we did the design brief
— Mark Matthews, Senior Director Retail, Supply & Central Operations at ASDA George.
 

Delivering an effective directive to stores of all sizes

A visual merchandising directive contains clear, concise information on how to merchandise products given a specific floor space. Everything from layout of the store furniture like gondolas to the placement of on-offer products is contained within. 

As a ‘fast-fashion’ brand, ASDA George creates a new store planogram and directive “Generally about every six weeks” according to Suzanne Reynolds, Head of Sales Development.

"Our role is essentially to brief store colleagues on how to merchandise product in the most simplistic way but also in the most commercial way to try and drive performance." says Michael Howard, Sales Development Manager at ASDA George.

However, ASDA George’s previous process - without Visual Retailing’s help - caused a variety of problems, not to mention a lot of wasted time. One big problem was the lack of ability to customise directives properly for their different sized stores.

“What we used to do was rack all of our products up in a large mock up store, walk around with the senior directors and get sign off for that process. We would then take pictures and brief our store colleagues on how we want to merchandise the products.” says Howard.

However, this fell down in the past as "stores would only receive a top store directive so the smaller stores and the mid stores found it very difficult" to interpret the information being sent from ASDA's VM HQ. 

It's crucial that visual merchandising directives contain only relevant information in order to avoid confusion and increase compliance - Visual Retailing's software not only makes this possible, it makes it easy. 

 
Our role is essentially to brief store colleagues on how to merchandise product in the most simplistic way but also in the most commercial way to execute and drive performance.
— Michael Howard, Sales Development Manager, ASDA George
 

Gaining speed and control over retail planning

Through the use of Visual Retailing’s MockShop software, ASDA George can now send completely customised directives for all grades of store. All of the image and product data is contained within and can be accessed and a highly visual layout can be produced instantly. 

“Since we moved on to Visual Retailing, we now produce automated planograms...which is absolutely great from a store cluster perspective” Reynolds sums up Visual Retailing's powerful planogram production element.

Sales Development Manager Howard goes further to explain that because their VM team now only receives a directive that's relevant to them "It’s so much easier for them to identify the product[s] within”. The fact that Visual Retailing also outputs an attractive, user-friendly layout makes it even more useful to their team in executing the directive.

ASDA George can also revolutionise the way they plan their upcoming collections through Visual Retailing's powerful range analysis tool. 

The range analysis tool allows ASDA George to create a fully visual overview of all their products and sort by any number of criteria such as price, style, colour to create a collection. This visual output allows for even more detailed planning on cluster level by using an array of helpful tools such as heat-maps. 

Because of Visual Retailing’s software “the process is so much quicker” when it comes to retail planning. It now allows ASDA George to focus more of their time on identifying new trends and styles to push their brand and inspire shoppers even further.  

Now, briefs and planograms can be delivered with unparalleled speed, control, and efficiency. 

 
They now only receive a directive that’s relevant to them, they also like the new layout because it’s so much easier for them to identify the product[s] within the directive.
— Suzanne Reynolds, Head of Sales Development
 

How Visual Retailing further helps ASDA's process

Delivering planograms and visual merchandising directives - with the help of StyleShoots

To speed up the delivery of their visual merchandising directives even further, ASDA George makes use of StyleShoots all-in-one photography machines. Controlled by an iPad, the machines use top of the line hardware to instantly shoot and upload product images into the Visual Retailing software. 

“It very quickly cuts out the garment...for a very clean image that can be used from a layout perspective” adds Suzanne Reynolds, Head of Sales Development, ASDA George.

#1 Products for the 6 week phase are pulled out and photographed on the StyleShoots Horizontal machine

 
 

#2 The StyleShoots machine instantly removes the background of the product for use in visual merchandising layouts and planograms

 
 

#3 The images are then automatically sent to a folder where it links with Visual Retailing’s Range Plan software which has all of the product’s information in (description, identity, distribution etc)

 
 

#4 Range analysis is performed with ASDA/George's collection, making use of heatmaps and the highly visual layout

 
 

#5 Once planning and range analysis is done, layouts for different grade levels of store can be created in a matter of minutes using MockShop

 
 

#6 Buyers and merchandisers will then review the layouts to make sure they are happy and sign off from senior executives before sent to store for retail execution

 
 

Making collaboration easier

As well as delivering the directives quicker than ever before, Visual Retailing’s software also allows ASDA George to internally collaborate easier than ever. 

“If there’s an opportunity to do something different with the layout, we will mock it up on the Visual Retailing software” Howard gives as an example of the flexibility MockShop offers. 

Having the time to do things differently creates space for more brainstorming and ideation as Kate Bowler, Sales Development Coordinator explains:

“We can do a bit of a focus group and get some opinions going...you can do it all on your screen and because the image quality is so good you don’t need to mock it up in real life” 

Easier collaboration means teams can be more productive and creative - all helping to work towards ASDA George's main goal of delivering more inspiration and style to their shoppers. Higher sell-through and less markdown then comes naturally. 

 
If there’s an opportunity to do something different with the layout, I will mock it up on the Visual Retailing software
— Michael Howard, Sales Development Manager, ASDA George
 

Looking to the future with Visual Retailing

ASDA George can see the benefits of using Visual Retailing’s software to deliver VM directives instantly.

“From the transition over to Visual Retailing, just by reducing the quantity of the paper we’ve saved over 100,000 pounds per year” Howard gives as an example of a single benefit. 

Looking to the future as part of a whole retail ecosystem, ASDA George decided that the Visual Retailing suite of software would enable them to bring all of their internal processes under one software umbrella - a true end-to-end solution. 

Now, ASDA George can get closer to their customers in the simplest way possible by delivering not only visually stunning directives, but also performing more effective store cluster analysis and range planning. 

“It came from a process of looking at how do we get closer to the customer and how do we make it simpler for our colleagues... the tool that we thought gave us the best scope for now - and for the future - was the Visual Retailing tool” says Mark Matthews, Senior Director of Retail.

Finally, he adds: “We’ve only just started the journey in terms of what we can achieve.” 

 
 
We were really pleased to see that [Visual Retailing] offered us all of the elements that we would want to take on as part of the overall system change...and ultimately could give us a longer term way of working that allowed us to look at how we ranged our space from start to finish...so it wasn’t just a brief production system
— Suzanne Reynolds, Head of Sales Development, ASDA George
 
 

About Visual Retailing

Visual Retailing was founded in 2004 to help retailers optimize their retail planning & VM processes. Our team members come from every aspect of the retail industry.

We are former product developers, buyers, visual merchandisers and salesmen with experience from the field and close ties to the industry.

We're not programmers with a flair for retail. We're industry insiders who speak your language.

About George ASDA

Asda Stores Limited is a British supermarket retailer, headquartered in Leeds. The company became a subsidiary of the American retail corporate giant Walmart after a £6.7 billion takeover in July 1999, and was the second-largest supermarket chain in Britain between 2003 and 2014, by market share.

George is one of the UK’s most popular fast-fashion retailers, offering quality clothing at affordable prices in more than 350 Asda stores across the UK.
 

 

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