Night & Day, a company with meteoric growth, did not choose its ERP by chance. Meet Philippe Clinet, administrator of this company with the wind in its sails.
Night & Day is a brand that everyone knows; can you provide a little history of your company?
Philippe Clinet: We started in September 1993 with the first shop in Namur, only open in the evening and targeting students in the faculties nearby. Fifteen years later, we have 47 outlets spread across a good part of Wallonia. Over time, we have developed a concept focused primarily on newsagent and stationary products comprising newspapers, magazines, tobacco articles, telephone cards, National Lottery products. They actually make up 75% of our turnover and alongside those; we sell a range of convenience products and foods – With the speciality of long opening hours (Six a.m. - Midnight or 1 a.m.)
Are some of your forty-seven points of sale franchised?
P.C: A large number of the points of sale are ours and some are franchised. Currently, the trend is mainly progress toward franchises, even if we do continue to create our own outlets. This has also allowed us to create a wholesale business, through our central buying.
How did you choose management and accounting software?
P.C: At first, there was no mention of the Internet and each store had its individual terminal. This required us to walk from store to store with diskettes, and daily sales returns were in paper form. From our fourth point of sale, we felt the need to evolve.
So you did a study of the market at the time?
P.C: A good ten years ago, we did the rounds of market offerings, and our financial means at the time imposed wisely combining quality and the amount of investment. After a market study, we chose the then relatively young, software that was Mercator from Ineo. It allowed us, even then, to centralize information from our offices and remotely update remote article records and client files. At that point in time, Mercator did not yet offer accounting software, and data had to be imported into another application, an operation that started manually and was then automated – thanks to Mercator creating "bridges" to Popsy and Winbooks, which we were using at the time.
Currently, you use Mercator accounting?
P.C: Yes, for sure. Nevertheless, we had our habits, and we did not make the switch immediately. Some time ago, we changed over to Mercator's integrated management solutions, using a full ERP. We manage various businesses and accounting structures (with franchises), and Mercator's flexibility allows us to input the required information in each different set of accounts. For example, invoices we establish for our franchises are directly integrated in their accounting without any new data entry.
You have evolved a lot during fifteen years in business.
P.C: Ultimately, we have had the luck that the software has evolved with our progress, and that we could find solutions to our new expectations in it. The advent of the internet opened the door to e-commerce, and we became Mercator e-commerce users, almost from its debut.
Does Mercator's evolution meet your needs?
P.C: We have always worked closely with Ineo, the feedback of our experiences has certainly contributed to the evolution of software, and we have gained from that. When it comes to little problems, they are handled quickly and updates implementation is automatic. In terms of our more specific requirements, we have equally quick follow-up. This was the case with the creation of the e-shop, which was set up in a few months. One of Mercator's strengths is its evolution according to clients' requests.
If you had to do it again today, would you choose Mercator?
P.C: Absolutely, since every company should question things again at some point, a few years ago, we went back through the market to see what other players there were in the full ERP system market. After seeing the other solutions on the market, we decided to continue with Mercator.
I believe you have also had specific applications developed?
P.C: We profit here from Mercator's characteristics that allow development of supplementary modules that will integrate with the Mercator interface, among others, a system for recharging pre-paid phones, secret codes stored in our central system are only transmitted to the shop at the time of sale.
Do you consider yourself as a pioneer in the integration of IT tools in retail stores?
P.C: We have always had an affinity with IT. We were among the first to use POS software rather than a cash register. Again, we were among the first to have internet access and a website. All part of the IT environment that we have followed since the debut. This allowed us to implement installations ourselves and to acquire a great amount of control of the Mercator Software. With Mercator's efficient assistance, we are autonomous.
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