We’ve got a number of new features planned for our Mercatus buying and merchandising application. It’s a tried and trusted product but retailers never stand still and their software needs to constantly adapt to new requirement and business processes.
About twenty retailers, mainly from the fashion industry, use Mercatus including Coast, Phase Eight, Oasis, Jones the Bootmaker and Karen Millen but also garden centres such as Dobbies. One of the most attractive features of Mercatus is that its customer order management system is ideal for multi-channel retailing and this package integrates easily with the BT Fresca e-commerce platform.
Twice a year we get Mercatus users together for an advisory board meeting and we’re grateful for their guidance on where best to spend our product development budget. Following the last meeting, in May, we got the retailers to feedback the outcome of their voting of the priorities for the next releases of the software and here are some examples of what we’re working on:
Hand held terminals - Extends existing capabilities to view location of stock, create, receive and authorise purchase orders. This is particularly useful for retailers wanting to receive direct to store deliveries.
Customer Order Management - integration with latest (4.0) version of FrescaCommerce and with multiple fascias. Increasingly we’re seeing retailers operating more than one e-commerce site, for example, with an outlet operation.
Housekeeping - a stack of small changes that will make it easier to delete products/categories from the system and to recategorise product codes.
Demand forecasting - an extra tool to make it easier to use Mercatus for simple demand forecasting. For example, this will include the ability to remove the effects of unusually strong or weak sales, to reflect historical promotional activity and to recognise out-of-stocks. Another feature will be the option to run a simulated replenishment cycle to see the impact before pushing the button for the real thing.
These are just examples of what we’re doing next. Early in 2010, we’ll be engaging again with customers on the next set of priority changes.