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  2005 Feb Issue
   
Cover Story
Turnkey: Delivering cost-efficient retail IT solutions
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Customer Relationship Management: China holds much potential for CRM programmes
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Cold-chain management – a collaborative effort
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Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair draws 30,000 buyers
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Investing in China – is it worth it?






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Cover Story
Turnkey: Delivering cost-efficient retail IT solutions

What every retailer really wants is an IT system and support that is both effective and efficient, delivers results and seamlessly links front and back-end operations. Turnkey Business Solutions, a dynamic and innovative provider of merchandise-management software for the retail-distribution industry, believes it can deliver this.

Set up in Canada in 1996, Turnkey Business Solutions is focused on delivering profit-improvement solutions to retailers. Turnkey moved its headquarters to Singapore in 1998 to better serve retailers in the Asia-Pacific region.

“In 1996-98, we developed Turnkey Merchant, a solution that could basically do most of the inventory cycle and link to the point-of-sale (POS) and accounting systems,” says Albert Chang, business development director of Turnkey Business Solutions. What is exciting about the program is that the initial data can be unified. This, he points out, is the key to an effective merchandise-management system.

“When all data resides in one database, it is awesome to the retailers — they can analyse their products and make correct decisions and know what time to discount their product and when to reorder.

This is the major function that every inventory-management system should have — but we do it better and more cost-efficiently,” says Chang.

Turnkey’s solution is flexible enough for all retail operations, from small to medium-sized and large companies that operate multi-format, cross-border stores.


It did not take long for Turnkey to gain the confidence of some of the region’s retail players. “In a very short time after we set up office in Singapore, we clinched a deal with Seiyu in Hong Kong and Challenger in Singapore, and we have been serving them ever since,” says Chang.

IT is ever evolving and Turnkey has very quickly moved into its second-generation platform, introducing a new premium product this year called Turnkey.Net. A comprehensive retail solution, Turnkey.Net allows the retailer to manage the entire spectrum of his operation — from merchandising to inventory and promotion, says Chang.

What the retailer will like about Turnkey.Net is that it runs on the Microsoft Windows platform, using the convenience and accessibility of the World Wide Web. This allows the retailer to manage and control his operations from any location that has access to the Internet.

Turnkey.Net is a transition from Turnkey Merchant and an upgrade for existing clients. An improved platform that will appeal to more retailers, Turnkey.Net is about developing a merchandising and vendor relationship, says Chang.

Turnkey.Net’s merchandising-management application allows the retailer to control cost, minimise waste and keep tab of vendors, pricing and performance. For example, it enables the retailer to manage the ordering process by centralizing purchases, tracking order status and ordering in multiple currencies. It allows the retailer to access merchandise information in different views and approve purchase orders based on dollar amount and the different levels of authorisation.

This vendor-relationship management feature is one of the most powerful aspects of Turnkey.Net, says Chang. The software employs a wide range of tools from eMerchant to vendor profiling and trading statistics.

Turnkey.Net is about store operations. It provides store management with a set of powerful tools to help direct and coordinate the many day-to-day tasks. “It helps bring order and system out of seemingly random activities,” explains Chang.

Turnkey.Net is about inventory management, too. With its smart monitoring and control of inventory, the system ensures the retailer maintain inventory at an optimal level. Other features and capabilities built into Turnkey’s premium Turnkey.Net solution include: Concessionaire programmes; customer relationship management (CRM) and loyalty programmes; business intelligence and analysis; accounting and budgeting; and logistics and delivery. In short, it is a complete solution for today’s retailer operating in a fast-paced, highly competitive arena.

“We have also come up with KeyPOS, our very own POS system which integrates seamlessly with Turnkey.Net,” says Chang.

Over and beyond its solution-based capabilities, Chang reckons that Turnkey has an edge over other retail IT solution vendors. “That would be our dedication to our clients. Turnkey is committed to delivering flexible, costefficient solutions,” he says.

“Our development team is always alert to every client’s requirements, sometimes even before the client is aware of it. We understand each client’s needs and always look for ways to improve our product. Once we have gathered the necessary information, we then tailor the software that the merchandiser can relate to,” explains Chang.

“This is what a lot of our larger competitors lack — the ability to be totally flexible,” he says.

He points to another competitive advantage that Turnkey has. “A lot of IT vendors use third-party products which can be less efficient and will certainly cost more. We are the sole developer of our software and we understand each retailer’s objective and needs.

“There is also more flexibility and cost-efficiencies as the retailer will not have to pay a third-party agent who, in the first place, might not have the knowhow or full first-line, or even the second-line, support facility,” he says.

One example of how Turnkey is proactive to its clients’ need is the introduction of KeyPOS and another product called i-Kiosk. These modules were created as a result of specific requests by clients. KeyPOS is available in two formats — one for the store retailer and the other for F&B operators.

Chang believes this is the key to a successful partnership between an IT service vendor and the retailer: “Time, effort and resources are inexplicably linked to create effectiveness and efficiency in a retail business.”

The year ahead will be a busy one for Turnkey. The company will be opening its first office in China this year. The office, to be based in Shanghai, will spearhead Turnkey’s penetration of China’s RMB4.5-trillion (US$544.3-billion) retail market.

“We are very optimistic about the Chinese market. We will be focusing on tenants in major malls as these retailers operate multi-stores or have the potential to be multi-store operations. We are already talking to a few of these retailers and they are very much interested in our product,” says Chang. Turnkey is also looking at future growth markets such as India and Taiwan.

In India, it is seeking dealers to handle its products. Its sales team in China will cover the Taiwanese market. Meanwhile, Chang also sees much potential in the South-east Asian region. Looking ahead at future developments, Chang says: “Turnkey’s ultimate goal is to create a world-renowned software that is user-friendly and seamlessly workable, and that focuses on users’ needs, with the capability to let owners view how their business is doing.

“All these key features will assist the retailers to reach their ultimate goal, which is to make profit!”


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