The commercial success of many retail businesses relies heavily on the manner in which stock is bought. Buying too much or too little of a particular line of goods can have serious consequences for the cash flow of a business.
Clothing retail stores need to be especially careful when purchasing stock for retail. Trends in fashion result in clothes having a shelf life, during which certain items are considered fashionable, and after which, these items become harder to sell.
A further consideration when purchasing stock for retail is the storage space required to store unsold stock, both on the shop floor and in the store room.
Ordering too much of a particular line of stock can result in the display space for other lines being wasted, which in turn may lead to a loss of potential sales.
In order to increase the sales of surplus stock, a retailer may decide to sell the items in a'sale'. This is when the retailer reduces the price of items on sale to below the original retail price. If it is necessary to sell the stock quickly, the retailer may reduce the price of an item to close to the item's wholesale price. Therefore although the items may sell, the retailer cannot make any profit on these items.
On the other hand, if the retailer decides not to increase the sale of surplus stock, after a time the retailer may be seen to be selling unfashionable stock-this can effect the retailers reputation.
Conversely, if a retailer is over cautious about the amount of stock he purchases and purchases too little, this can also effect a retailers profits. For example, running out of a particular line when there is still demand for such items results in the loss of a potential sale. This may frustrate customers who will be encouraged to look elsewhere for what they want. This may not only apply to a particular sale, but also affect future business since customers who can purchase items elsewhere may decide not return to the shop.
A further disadvantage of buying stock in smaller quantities is that this may increase the wholesale price per unit, of a particular line of stock. This will lead to a reduction of the profit margin of the retailer.
Being able to predict the potential demand for retail items is therefore extremely important. Its importance in relation to purchasing stock has been discussed in the examples given above, however being able to predict potential demand is also important for making many other business decisions.
The inventor has identified that simply assessing sales to predict the demand for retail items is not sufficient.
There is therefore a need for a means whereby retailers with more accurate and up-to-date information on information relating to sales and to further provide salesmen with means for gathering this information.
According to the present invention there is provided a system as set out in the claims.
The present invention will now be described by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which: figure 1 shows a schematic view of a system for processing retail data; and figure 2 shows schematically the structure of a portable terminal.
Figure 1 shows a system for processing retail data, with the principal aim of processing information relating to requests from shoppers. The system comprises a server unit 1. The server unit could be a conventional personal computer loaded with appropriate software for performing the functions described below. The server unit is connected to a data storage unit 2 to which it can store and from which it can retrieve stored information. The data storage unit is loaded with information on products for sale. The data storage unit also stores information relating to requests from shoppers as described below. The...