Armstrong Gardens Case Study
Implementing an Integrated System
Pike Nurseries had been operating its locations using two separate, older computer systems — one for point of sale and one for accounting — so Armstrong Garden Centers chose to begin installing Epicor Eagle in those stores.
Pike Nurseries went live on the Eagle system at all 16 locations in November 2008. “We had great training and excellent support from Epicor in each store,” says Kent Backes, inventory control manager at Pike Nurseries.
Over the next two years, the company began to see how Eagle streamlined inventory management, created more off-season sales, and improved margins. Eagle was then expanded to all 31 Armstrong Garden Centers locations in November 2010.
Epicor Gift Cards and Loyalty Program Cultivate Loyal Customers
Two solutions critical to Armstrong Garden Centers are the Epicor Gift Card and Loyalty programs. “Having a Gift Card program is a necessity for a nursery. It can be difficult to buy the right plant for someone, making gift cards a great alternative,” Backes notes. “Last year, the stores issued 11,467 gift cards with merchandise credits totaling over $600,000.”
The Epicor Loyalty solution was another important reason Armstrong Garden Centers chose Eagle. “We now market to our customers based on their previous purchases,” explains Weisman. “For example, we know approximately when an orchid purchased by a customer will cease to bloom; we track this in the system based on the purchase date, and then we send them an e-mail offering a new orchid to buy.”
In addition, the Loyalty program has allowed Armstrong Garden Centers and Pike Nurseries to introduce a series of successful customer events. Explains Backes, “Last spring, we sent an email to our Loyalty customers for an after-hours event. It had a phenomenal response, with a resulting 456% increase in sales over the previous year. We duplicated the success of the spring event with a fall Gardenfest event in October. We had sales of 151% over the previous year.”
Accurate Inventory Tracking at the SKU Level
According to Weisman, Epicor Eagle provides the data visibility that Armstrong Garden Centers was looking for. “The Eagle reports and viewers give you the ability to filter, sort, and look at data the way you want it. With all of the information available in the Eagle system, we understand more of what’s selling,” he says.
Stores also rely on reports that highlight product margins. “When we switched to Eagle, we greatly improved our ability to track SKU history, and now see cost and margin data over the life of the SKU. With our old system, we could only view SKU history up to the last time we received the item,” Backes comments. “Eagle is a huge improvement.”
Advanced Reporting and Analysis
Previously, Armstrong Garden Centers handled reporting processes manually. “Now, with Eagle and Compass, we can mine detailed levels of data,” Weisman states. “The information is at our fingertips, at every level of our organization. Anyone can look at reports in Compass; it doesn’t take a computer genius.”
Compass reports help Armstrong Garden Centers make better decisions. “We generate reports on what has sold and which plants have died,” says Backes. “For example, there was a very popular plant called a Chinese Fringe Flower, and 12% of one variety kept being returned dead. We worked with the grower to figure out why, and helped our customers be more successful with the plant. Compass enabled us to see that solvable problem.”
Switch to Eagle Improves Operations and Boosts Margins
Epicor Eagle gives Armstrong Garden Centers a competitive advantage from better visibility into inventory data to increasing customer loyalty. “Customers like the personalized communications of the Loyalty program,” Weisman notes.
Backes concludes, “Our processes have improved, receiving is more accurate, our sales are strong, and we write off less inventory. Best of all, our margins are improving. We’re very happy with Eagle. It’s a fantastic tool.”