ESCADA is a retailer in the cutthroat world of high fashion. Every year ESCADA designs outfits and accessories and each style has a unique identification number. Staff were using these numbers to place orders and check availability in an inventory system, but mistakes were common in the purely text-based, AS400 application. Without any pictures to help staff verify that they had entered the correct code, they could only know they had made a mistake when the stock arrived. Flynet Viewer was used to web-enable this system, adding images and drop-down menus to improve its reliability and staff satisfaction.
Based in Munich, Germany, ESCADA is an international luxury fashion group in women's designer fashion. The US subsidiary manages seventeen stores across the United States. David Elfring, Director of Application Development for ESCADA USA, explained, "We had two options: a) Redevelop the application or b) Web-enable the existing one. It was clear that it would be quicker and less resource-intensive to use Flynet Viewer. We had all the necessary hardware and the whole solution was competitively priced by Inventu."
Following an initial review of ESCADA's requirements, Inventu Corporation, Flynet's Reseller Partner in the States, proceeded to develop a Proof of Concept solution. This was a quick demonstration of how Flynet Viewer could be used to meet the business needs. Mr Elfring was "very impressed" both with the speed of development and the professional way in which the project was managed.
Phase 1 development involved creating drop down menus for the style number entries, so that staff would no longer need to remember the numbers or check them in a booklet. The most valuable new feature was the addition of images. This exceeded Mr. Elfring's expectations. "There is even a choice of pictures now. I can look at any item from the front, back and sides. Our retailers can also create "personalised catalogues" for their customers by copying these images into Word documents and emailing them across. The system is very flexible and has been received well across the country."
ESCADA also has a wholesale business in the US. The next stage of development will be to add features to make the inventory system easier to use for the wholesale arm's sales team. The "style number"-based system will be transformed into a "selection"-based system where users can enter search words such as "spring 2006 cashmere sweater" and see available styles and stock levels. This is an ambitious project which will involve developers at ESCADA USA in the modification of back-end data sources as well as the advanced .NET features of Flynet Viewer.
Jeff Urbanczyk, VP of Sales and Operations at Inventu commented, "ESCADA was founded in the late seventies and is typical of iSeries/AS400 users around the world. The iSeries/AS400 is reliable and secure even after more than 10 years of use, but as the business has changed, the system has had to change too. ESCADA has repurposed its inventory system, discovering uses for it that had not even been considered before. The presentation of stock information in this web-based, flexible .NET application has led to happier staff and ultimately, happier customers."