Helping Colorama Retail Network Unify Under One Retail Software Platform

in Retail

About Colorama

Colorama was founded in 2007 as the result of a confederationof three independent retail chains in Scandinavia: Spektrum (Sweden) and Färgtema (Sweden). With 175 retail outlets in Sweden, and a purchasing alliance in Norway and Finland, Colorama is the largest independent retail chain for paint in Northern Europe.

Each store in the Colorama network is owned by the individual store owner. Each owner maintains individual responsibility over marketing and sales,andenjoys democratic influence over the central governance of the retail chain.

In addition to paint and accessories, the Colorama assortment also includes wall paper, flooring and ceramic tiles.

In Sweden alone, the chain is approaching annual sales of 2.5billion SEK (455 Million USD) and operates with the vision to be Scandinavians leading retail chain of paint.

Unified under a one-brand umbrella, Colorama believes in a disciplined approach to branding, where brand consistency is critical to success, including the implementation of central campaigns, cross network use of manuals, training and ability to distribute content seamlessly across operations.

Business Challenge

As Colorama was established over five years ago, the Scandinavian retail chainbegan moving assertively to leverage its size to achieve cost savings through increased buying power, and focusing its marketing efforts to establish Colorama as a national brand with top of mind consumer awareness.

Said a company spokesperson at the inception of Colorama in 2007: “This is a step towards the goal: one single Scandinavian chain. The size is the only thing that matters to the suppliers”

While buying power is one of the immediate and apparent benefits when forming an alliance, there are many other roadblocks to overcome.

For example, a centrally owned company has a board with ultimate voting power and ability to enforce centrally coordinated program. But a network built up from individual stores, with brand legacies and systems of their own, compliance and cooperation can only be achieved by reaching consensus and agreement.

And growing from a multi-branded retail environment to a centrally coordinated mono-brand retail chain doesn’t come without its fair share of headaches.

Immediately at its inception, Colorama put a strong focus on creating an aggressive central branding platform, which included campaigns that included TV, Radio, Media and events.

As many owners of retailchains will testify, brand consistency and compliance can only be achieved if communication from the top is crystal clear and the right tools are in place. Without the right tools and processes in place, retail chains struggle to overcome these challenges, and grow effectively.

To further complicate the realization of its goals to build a national brand rapidly, the network of chains now operating as Colorama, operated on more than five different store software platforms.

So with over 1,000 employees, Colorama acknowledged that communicating effectively,and under one synchronizing platform, would be critical to its success.

The company decided to laser focus on implementingits mono brand platform, unifying its retail network with a highly integrated and flexible work platform that enabled communication, collaboration and content to be shared with speed and efficiency. By doing so, the company believed it would be better equipped to manage its brand.

According to Anders Lundblad, Marketing Director at Colorama, “Managing a large retail network with individual store owners requires a great need for communicating clearly and effectively. We have a responsibility to provide the members with the toolsthey require to succeed, while at the same time establishing a framework which is easy to follow and implement. In a nutshell, you need an intelligent software platform that facilitates day-to-day communications that is also able to guide and educate your organization about your brand concept in a manner that is approachable for all stores in real time.”

As a first step to laser focus on brand compliance, the executive leadership team at Colorama decided to implement a group-wide approach that would help:

  • Bring together retailcommunications into one single platform
  • Store, share, and maintain manuals, documents, and marketing materials in a one-stop platform
  • Facilitate the design and execution of customer loyalty programs and marketing promotions while respecting the Colorama brand guidelines and standards

This approach would set it apart from the competition and provide what Chainformation terms “distinctive capability,” a retail chain’s unique formula for business success aimed at securing brand compliance while outperforming the competition.

For help in realizing an Intranet-based communication platform, Colorama wanted to team with a partner that would bring not only expertise in technical environments and system integration, but also bringing a deep understanding of the retail industry.

Chainformation was the logical choice. Over the past twelve years, Chainformation has provided retail- and franchise-software for some of Scandinavia’s largest franchise- and retail-chains, including industry leaders such as IC Company, Iduna andIKEA.

How we helped

In partnering with Chainformation, Coloramawere able to leverage a retail specific solution based on proven technologies.

The move gave Colorama instant access to a high powered Intranet that would function as the retail chain’s delivery vehicle for know-how, business data and content for the daily operations including:

  • Faster, role-based communication
  • Brand and Identity Guidelines
  • Marketing Design Templates and Execution tools
  • Daily Sales Reporting

While CCM is ready to be used out of the box and can be implemented in just 2-4 weeks, Colorama worked with Chainformation’steam of development expertsto realize a number of features to be used across the retail network including:

  • Customer Loyalty Program Management and Mailing Features
  • Access to preferred vendors and procurement processes
  • E-mail and Text Message Marketing tool to drive customer traffic
  • Access to purchasing agreements, discounts and vendors

“Having partnered with Chainformation since our inception, we have continuously worked with their team of experts to align the CCM platform with our business objectives and creating useful tools for the members of our retail network. For instance, we can use CCM to communicate withany, or all of our members of our loyalty program. We can send out mass mailings or test messages with special in store promotions,” says Anders Lundblad.

Another popular component of the CCM platform is the Colorama College – an individual module that offers e-learning directly to the store staff, regardless of their location.

This means that any employee with access to the Colorama network can access training programs, such as the “new recruitment training” or product specific training programs. As students go through various stages of interactive training programs, they then take tests online.

Some of the information shared via CCM is either confidential or business sensitive. But the retail software is completely role-based so that users will only see what they need to see. For instance, CCM captures critical sales information which is made available only to the central finance department.

More than just a gatekeeper of confidential information, CCM also helps streamline communication so that employees are not over-informed.

Perhaps one of the most useful features included with the retail software platform, is the Web Content Management Plug-in. This plug-in providesColorama with the ability to publish and manage content on local store website.

With pre-approved web-page templates and role-based user rights, Colorama can rely on the plug-in to published content according to pre-approved brand standards, and that websites will look the same in every location and geography.

How the implementation was done

In rolling out CCM in the Colorama network, Chainformation was committed to designing, testing and implementing CCM with minimal disruptions to existing daily business.

Chainformation deployed a team of professionals who were involved in all aspects of project delivery, beginning with analysing Colorama key processes, and business drivers. Through a series of requirements-gathering workshops and functional design sessions, Chainformation were able to frame a customer unique solution that supported Colorama in each of its focus areas, including guest management, brand management and staff education.

Once the functional design was in place, the team worked quickly to complete the CCM-platform customized for Colorama, including technical design, development and testing and system integration.

The primary solution components included:

The roll-out of CCM, a state of the art retail software and single point of entry and for the Colorama network.

This customized approach of an out-of-the-box solution was designed to meet all the system-, knowledge delivery- and communication-needs of the Colorama network.

The solution equips the members of the franchise network with a tool that makes daily operations easier and more transparent, while at the same time providing head office with a tool that helps secure brand compliance, improve communication flow and deplete operational deficiencies:

  • A user friendly-interface for speedy publication of news and updates
  • Real-time access to manuals, Brand Guidelines, and Identity Standards
  • A media asset manager that contains brand-compliant visual elements such as images, logos and document templates.
  • A design tool that enables the design of local promotions and e-mail campaigns
  • A management tool for the Colorama loyalty club program
  • A SMS Text Message Marketing Tool for executing campaigns that drive customer traffic
  • Customer feedback functionality

High performance Delivered

With CCM by Chainformation, Colorama has transformed from a disparate network of stores to a leading Scandinavian retail star equipped with best practice work processes.

Says Anders Hall, Sales & Marketing Manager at Chainformation: “In 2007, Colorama was operating on five individual store software systems which made it incredibly difficult to capture relevant information on sales, and communicating effectively across the stores. By implementing CCM by Chainformation, we have been able to synchronize and funnel information from all legacy systems, while providing one single platform for store staff to use in day-to-day retail operations.”

Every Colorama location now has one single point of entry from which it can access manuals and marketing modules, communicate and cross-collaborate, while also receiving important updates and news from Colorama’shead office

As campaigns and marketing materials are made available in real-time, CCM also enables Colorama to see if individual staff member have missed to take part of important documents or content. The system even keeps track if anything has been printed out.

“The success of any retail chain begins with people and communications. With CCM by Chainformation, we have equipped our organization with a state of the art tool which allows us to maximize and fully leverage the potential of the Colorama network, from purchasing information to brand building. As we laser focus on building Scandinavia’s leading retail chain in our segment, we can implement large scale changes and keep our network informed in seconds,” explains Anders Lundblad.

In hindsight, the strategy has worked well for Colorama. They have carved out a clear leadership role in a short time and continue to expand. According to a recent internal report, Colorama has become one Sweden's most recognized consumer brands, with a brand awareness of 25 per cent (closest competitor at 9%), and top of mind brand awareness for TV commercials.

According to Anders Hall, Sales and Marketing Manager at Chainformation, “Partnering with Colorama, we were able funnel the wealth of information flowing through fivelegacy computer systems in play across the Colorama network, while also providing a communication platform where Colorama could communicate and share business critical information. This is a great example of how Chainformation is able to rapidly deploya unifying approach and help deliver business critical knowledge when large chains and alliances are born.”

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James Taylor has 9 articles online

James Taylor is a "techie" guy and loves to write about gadgets reviews such as pros and cons, guides, what's new in the tech world and a lot more. Right now, he writes technology news aiming to help businesses big and small achieve their goals.

To learn more about franchise software, visit Chainformation.

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Helping Colorama Retail Network Unify Under One Retail Software Platform

This article was published on 2013/01/28