Johannesburg, 30 May 2022
The Argility Technology Group (ATG) – with a 35-year plus history as a leading software developer and supplier to the retail and supply chain sectors, has announced that 2022 will mark the 21st anniversary of its partnership with Furnmart.
Furnmart is a successful retailer of furniture, kitchen appliances, home entertainment and bedding. It operates stores under both the Furnmart and Homecorp brands across Botswana (56 stores), South Africa (50 stores) and Namibia (45 stores).
Shawn Wilsnach, ATG Java Divisional Manager, says the relationship has been both rewarding and highly successful. “It is an interesting history and timeline that spans over two decades with requirements changing as Furnmart grew and developed into the retail powerhouse it is today.
“In approximately 2010, Furnmart recognised the need for a browser-based system that incorporated existing functionality and proven stability, but that could accommodate both its current and future needs. This is when ATG presented its updated Java platform as a long-term future alternative to the original system and together both companies embarked on extensive development to customise the Java systems to Furnmart’s business requirements. Roll-out of that project was completed to all three countries in 2015,” says Wilsnach.
He highlights the fact that Furnmart stores process 133 different types of transactions on the Java system every month.
Wilsnach notes the successful implementation of the Java-based retail management and merchandising system provided enhanced functionality to enable the Furnmart group to continue competing successfully well into the future.
This was part of the overall value proposition of the solution implemented by ATG, which also included:
- Data that is easily accessible for use by other applications used in the Furnmart Retail ecosystem;
- Services orientated architecture (SOA) that enables easy integration with third-party applications;
- Browser-based technology that enables remote access across the business; and
- The end-to-end solution was presented on a software as a service (SaaS) – always an attractive billing model with monthly subscription and support fees, and ongoing customised development as required.
Argility designed the system to retain Furnmart’s existing distributed architecture. “Each store has its own servers to enable it to continue trading regardless of whether or not it has network connectivity. When online, these servers replicate back to head office every hour. It also facilitates a full retail and credit solution, and is based on Argility’s deep understanding of, and experience in, the retail business,” he adds.
The Java solution provides additional key benefits to Furnmart. “Data has emerged as a key competitive differentiator in today’s environment because we now have sophisticated new generation analytics capabilities, with artificial intelligence well on its way to becoming mainstream. Furnmart now has an end-to-end system with readily accessible data that can interface with other systems. Argility’s Java solution also provides easy online, real-time interfaces to third-party systems through web services – a growing requirement in the face of the rapidly increasing demand to integrate across multiple specialised systems seamlessly.”
In a retail world where enhanced customer service is the name of the game, Wilsnach highlights the positive outcomes of this long-term relationship for Furnmart as:
- Exceptional, online services to Furnmart customers;
- Accessible, valuable customer and trading data;
- Enhanced efficiencies; and
- Superior decision-making based on sophisticated, deep analytics.
“Furnmart’s unique business model meant it was impossible for us to simply use an off-the-shelf application,” says Theo Kukard, General Manager: IT at Furnmart. “A specific issue is the fact that, like furniture retailers across the sub-continent, we also act as credit providers to our customers, something that you don’t find elsewhere in the world. Furnmart’s customer-centricity drives us to ensure that we are always evolving in order to provide positive customer experiences at every touch point.
“We have continued to partner with Argility because they have a deep understanding of the furniture retail business embedded in their solutions and skilled, dedicated teams who provide invaluable support and rapid development of enhancements and new features,” says Kukard.
Argility and Furnmart continue to strengthen their partnership, working closely together to explore new ways of taking full advantage of the implemented technologies with the goal of helping Furnmart expand its highly successful business. This includes ongoing engagement with the Furnmart executive team providing guidance on accelerating digital transformation, enhanced business efficiencies through best-of-breed tech stacks and improved customer engagement.