Retail Solutions - HoF in-store planning system revamped by Compass software

House of Fraser is the first UK retailer to sign up for Compass Software's smartVM visual merchandising system, as part of a major overhaul of its merchandising operations. The aim is to improve in-store planning and presentation.

The department store chain already uses Makoro - a planning package originally from IBM but now marketed by i2 technologies - and the Mercatus merchandising suite (one of NSB's first acquisitions in 1998).

It is now strengthening these systems with Compass Software's modules to create a fully integrated system that will ultimately give store staff access to space planning visualisations via the corporate intranet.

'We expect to have the end-to-end solution in place within six months,' said House of Fraser supply chain director Colin Porter. 'Initially, we will be incorporating images of our own-label menswear ranges to give visual guidelines to the stores on merchandising, and in future we hope to import images from key fashion brands to give an actual visual of the total proposition.'

The final solution will take the basic numerical plan, produced in Makoro, and populate this with digital product images to create a visualisation of the floor plan for each store. Buyers and merchandisers will use this as a model to develop an attractive customer proposition in the build-up to the season. The system can also operate on buyer's laptops to improve range building.