Party Showroom are an online retailer of a wide range of party products and fancy dress costumes. Founded in the early 90s, Party Showroom started out as balloon decorators for weddings and parties, moving into online retail in the early 2000s which is where they have been focussing their business for the last 10 years. They currently employ 46 members of staff who work from their main offices in South Wales and Distribution Warehouse in the US. In total Party Showroom offer around 15,000 different products which are purchased mainly from UK and US suppliers, with some also sourced from China. These are then sold through eBay, Amazon and their own website, with Party Showroom receiving around 40,000-50,000 orders a month.
Party Showroom have been using OrderWise to manage all of their daily operations since late 2013. We caught up with Jonathan Heritage, Director of Party Showroom, who took time out of his busy schedule to discuss how using OrderWise has helped their business to move forward.
Prior to using OrderWise, Party Showroom had their own bespoke software system to manage all their order processing and stock management. Although this had initially worked well for them, as the company started to grow Party Showroom begun to feel the software become more stretched as they pushed its limitations. Jonathan explained that eventually the system started letting them down on a daily basis, which is when they realised they needed to move over to something more sustainable that could support the growth of the company.
“It was the way that all the databases were working in the background. Basically as the volume of orders increased, it meant the whole system would’ve needed rewriting to keep everything indexing at the right speed and keep us working efficiently, which our independent software developer couldn’t do by himself. That for us was a clear indication that we had just outgrown the system and couldn’t move the business forward by continuing to use it”
With the decision made to look for a new software solution, Party Showroom went in search of a new business management system that would be able to meet their diverse requirements. One of the key factors Party Showroom were looking at when choosing their new software was that it had to be able to aid with the purchasing of their products. As they have thousands of different lines, Party Showroom knew they needed a system that would help make the forecasting and ordering of these products much simpler. However the main thing Jonathan and the Party Showroom team were looking for was a system that was going to grow and develop alongside their own business.
“We needed it to be able to grow with us as well. I wanted to be sure that we weren’t going to have any issues like we had with the last system where we were getting to the stage where the system was failing regularly. We needed to know that the new system we were investing in was going to continue to grow, which OrderWise does through monthly development”
With OrderWise able to demonstrate to Party Showroom that it would be able to not only fulfil their requirements but keep their software enhanced with continuous development, the decision was made to implement OrderWise into the business. Although Jonathan couldn’t pinpoint just one reason for Party Showroom choosing OrderWise, he said the comprehensive management the software was able to provide over their purchasing activities was one aspect that really made an impression.
“The way OrderWise handles the usage of every single item in the background without you having to worry about it and then suggesting to you through forecasting how much of an item you’re going to need. That was certainly one of the key factors for us, how easy it suddenly made running that side of the business”
Once the decision to go with OrderWise had been made, Party Showroom worked alongside their OrderWise Project Manager to determine an implementation timescale and set convenient dates for training. Jonathan said the fact that OrderWise accommodated their needs by sending staff down to their own premises for the training to take place in their own working environment really helped to make the transition even easier for him and his team.
“That was another great aspect of OrderWise, the amount of training and time that was spent in the lead up to going live. We had people down here at our premises for numerous days just going through every part of the system and the way it all works. This made sure that when we went live everything had been covered and we could have a fairly seamless switch over to our new system”
With their own OrderWise Project Team there to assist them every step of the way, Party Showroom were able to experience a successful implementation and went live with their OrderWise solution on the 24th September 2013.
The OrderWise Solution
Having now used OrderWise for a number of years, Party Showroom have been able to completely transform their business thanks to the comprehensive management over every aspect of their vast operations that OrderWise has been able to offer them. With their previous bespoke system, Party Showroom had no integration between their multiple online sales channels and courier systems which meant they had to rely on manual processes to transfer information between their various platforms. By providing them with one fully integrated solution, Jonathan explained that OrderWise has helped Party Showroom to massively reduce their despatch times.
“It’s automated a lot of the processes we were having to do manually on the old system, such as importing orders from our sales channels and producing courier labels. By just being integrated, automatically bringing the orders in, exporting courier labels and then relaying the information back to customers, the speed at which we can despatch orders is far greater than what we could ever achieve before”
One of the main requirements Party Showroom had for a new software system was they wanted much better control over their purchasing and more accurate forecasting of product usage. Having chosen OrderWise based on the functionality available with the Purchasing Module, the big question is has it helped Party Showroom with the purchasing of their products?
“Definitely, it’s been the biggest change for us – now instead of looking at stock levels and ordering variant by variant, OrderWise calculates it for you based on your chosen parameters. That way we know we are only purchasing stock that we require based on usage, rather than filling the shelves with stock that may have once sold but now is not so great a seller. OrderWise will see that downturn in the sales of an item and also take into account whether a product is seasonal – so it’s obviously kept our stock levels down a lot”
Along with the faster, more automated daily processes and better purchasing, Jonathan also mentioned how the Kitting module has dramatically helped the business. On their previous system, Party Showroom didn’t have the ability to manage any kitted products and offer these to their customers. Now they have the OrderWise Kitting Module, Party Showroom have been able to introduce party kits into their product offering which has helped them to fully maximise sales.
“The Kitting side of it, that’s been one of the biggest benefits. By introducing kits, such as party tableware packs, we’ve been able to increase the value of our orders simply by generating a higher customer spend on every order we’re shipping. So just by being able to offer kits that we weren’t able to before, we’ve been able to increase turnover and profitability”
However it is not just the functionality within OrderWise that has impressed Jonathan and the team at Party Showroom but also the support. Although their initial training and the fact OrderWise is an easy-to-use system has meant Party Showroom rarely need to contact the Support Team for assistance, Jonathan said that whenever they do, the service is never short of exceptional.
“The support has always been great, training at the start was comprehensive so that’s allowed us to have a good knowledge of the system that allows us to handle most problems ourselves. However when we have needed extra support or help on new features then it’s always been there and if we have had any technical issues, they’ve always been rectified quickly”
What’s Next For Party Showroom?
So with Party Showroom able to find the future proof system they were looking for in OrderWise, gaining better management of their purchasing, massively automating their daily processes and increasing profitability as a result, what’s the next step for Party Showroom and OrderWise?
“Obviously our plans for the future are to increase what we do now and further grow the business, particularly in the US. Since we’ve integrated OrderWise into the US it has already allowed us to have a lot more control and understanding across the two businesses as everyone is using the same system. With OrderWise there’s also the potential to grow into other marketplaces, we’ve just opened and started working with Amazon Canada and we are just looking now into Amazon Mexico as well, so that should all be seamless and work exactly how we want it to with OrderWise”
For more information on Party Showroom, visit www.partyshowroom.co.uk