The Interview: Greg Gregoriou, Managing Director, Esperus
Esperus is a software house which designs and develops software business solutions for the clothing and footwear industries within retail, wholesale distribution and manufacturing sectors. The business is one of very few UK based companies that can provide a complete multi-channel solution for the fashion industry that covers ePoS, retail, wholesale and eCommerce. Esperus offers a innovative system which allows fashion businesses to enter the product once all sales channels and stock are synchronised. Managing Director at Esperus, Greg Gregoriou tells us more:
Could you tell us a little bit about you background?
After completing my studies in Engineering, I soon realised that my love for technology was not in the technical detail but more its application to solve customers’ problems. This revelation caused me to swiftly move into commercial roles, where I held a number of senior management positions within Blue Chip and SME technology companies before setting up a consultancy to assist SMEs with their commercial strategies. One of my clients was Esperus and I was so impressed with their technology portfolio that I ended up joining them.
Did you identify a gap in market?
There seems to be few UK based fashion specific solutions that can service the retailer and wholesaler within the same system. Often companies may start as retailers but then add wholesale activity or vice versa. The system has to be modular to allow smaller companies to afford it initially and then the system grows with them, regardless of what direction their business takes.
Could you tell us more about Esperus and what the company specialises in?
Esperus is a North London based software house established in 1986 to provide business solutions specifically to the fashion industry. We design and develop products exclusively for the fashion industry and specifically for retailers and wholesalers. These products assist them in optimising their business processes, managing their stock and providing better service to their clients. Since we specialise in fashion we have developed a comprehensive product portfolio for the industry and have over 100 years of industry knowledge within the extended team. We are very proud of our prestigious client base and the length of time they have been with us, which we hope is testament to our products and attentive service.
What problems does Esperus solve for retailers?
One constant challenge that retailers face is to be able to offer the right product at the right time in the right colours and sizes. A fashion specific system like ours means that retailers have the business intelligence and processes, to help them meet this challenge.
What was the initial response when Esperus launched? How has the response changed since launching?
Esperus launched a long time ago and has seen many changes in the fashion industry since. Nowadays it is all about convenience for the consumer. Technology has become a must have rather than previously a nice to have. Retailers need to embrace the new world and use technology effectively as a differentiator from the competition.
You clients tend to be more specialist, do you think it would be easy to roll out your tech solution for larger global fashion companies?
Our solution is completely scalable so it can be used for a single store retailer or for large multiplies. It comes with multiple currency options. In saying that, we feel that we are suited to the SMEs, since the product is modular and suits their budgets. They only pay for what they need when they need it.
Can you name some benefits in terms of efficiency and increased opportunity your clients have gained from working with you?
Clients using our system are able to see down to colour and size level what they are selling by product, supplier, season, material and so on. They can see margins, how long it takes to sell, which assistants are selling what products. This has helped in training staff, looking at slow moving brands, re-positioning products on shop floors, and driving their product purchasing strategies.
Using our ePoS CRM modules, retailers create targeted marketing databases based on customer profiles and buying patterns. Our loyalties scheme is used to retain customers and encourage repeat spend.
Could you tell us more about your customer management and loyalty schemes?
Our ePoS loyalty vouchers rewards customer spends. Customers can get substantial vouchers, for example a £50.00 Voucher for £500.00 spend sounds quite a lot but it’s actually 10%, and far more effective than a sale sign saying 10%. Customers can only join this scheme if they are signed up, giving the retailer important customer data. Combining this customer data with the customers spend profile allows for targeted marketing or invitations to a relevant VIP event. For example, if there is an over stock of certain sizes, customers with that size can be sent an email. This is highly targeted approach is personalised for clients and effective for customer loyalty and repeat sales.
How do you improve customer loyalty?
To improve customer loyalty you have to show you know your customer and demonstrate that you value them and are prepared to go the extra mile where others do not. You need to analyse their buying patterns, offer them products that they actually want and make them feel equally special whatever channel they use to buy from.
Once such example is to be able to acquire and redeem loyalty spend both in store and online. Another example is to have personalised buying data online when a customer logs in, such as size and a filter to only display products available in stock in their size. Related products displayed are based on their buying history rather than those related to the main product.
What are the current downsides to fashion technology?
There is a lot of technology around and it is often misunderstood. It has become harder for the fashion retailer and wholesaler to know which company to go for, understand the benefits and determine how useful the technology will actually be to them and if it is worth the investment. Some of it looks great but lacks functionality or flexibility, and sometimes there are hidden costs.
What is the future for fashion technology?
Partnerships, best of breed companies coming together to offer an optimum solutions to the retailer. For example we offer our own e-commerce solution but we are launching a Shopify/Shopify Plus connector for our retailers as we totally appreciate that this is a key platform they want to use for their e-commerce. Therefore we must offer best of breed with seamless connection.
Who do you think is currently pioneering fashion technology?
That’s hard to say as fashion technology covers a wide area from production to wholesale, ePoS and e-commerce and in each area there are specialist companies. With the growth of e-commerce I would say that Shopify on the e-commerce side have become a significant player.
What are your business achievements to date?
Over the years we have added many features to our solution, but the major achievement in recent times has been the launch of our cloud based real time multi-channel fashion solution. To compliment this we developed our advanced merchandising reporting platform. These two achievements mean that fashion companies can manage their stock, sell across channels and get sales reports comprehensively and consistently on one single platform.
What is next for Esperus?
These are challenging and interesting times. Consumers have more choice than ever, available at the swipe of a finger on their Smartphone. We want to help retailers use the technology to deliver the data they need to enhance their business and make their customers feel special.
Assist retailers to use their systems to develop marketing databases of buyers that can be segmented. This will allow them to target customers not only by the products they want but in their specific size, preferred colours and even preferred styles.
We are also looking at new ways to give retailers more customer data so they can build their intelligence of who their customers really are. Data collection is one thing but how you use the data will be key in the fight for retailers to differentiate themselves from competition, to retain and enhance their customer loyalty.