The Very Group is the UK’s largest integrated digital retailer and financial services provider. Their purpose is to make good things easily accessible to more people by combining 1,900 brands, a seamless customer journey driven by data and technology, and flexible ways to pay.
If you want to lead in the online market, key metrics for success are leadtime, conversion rate and customer satisfaction.
That counts for the UK online retailer The Very Group as well, who has seen a lot of new customers coming their way recently. Needless to say, the company is interested in keeping those customers happy and coming back.
Identifying quality problem areas to succeed
One way to support customers coming back would be by improving the quality of their products in order to get fewer customer returns – something that the group was already working to do, but the quality control process was simply too tedious, characterized by inspectors’ having to spend a lot of time doing reports after being at the factories, manually entering data at home and uploading and attaching photos.
Additionally, the company offers an extremely wide product range covering both softline and hardline products sold through www.very.co.uk and www.littlewoods.com. The continued growth and widening product range meant that the company’s supplier base across Asia and Europe increased as well, which put further pressure on quality control logistics as having QCs go to all the factories would take up many resources.
It eventually became clear for Chris Vandenbrouck, Head of Global Sourcing & Quality, The Very Group, that things had to change and that great opportunities could come with it.
“We wanted to do more with less, and just not have to spend so much unnecessary time. And we also wanted our quality matters to be centralized in a system for visibility and traceability, so our people could check and see what is going on throughout our processes”
- Chris Vandenbrouck, Head of Global Sourcing & Quality
Supplier empowerment and transparency beating complex systems
When Chris and his team were looking for a solution, they already knew that they didn’t want a system that dictated what the employees and users should do. They believe that the users know what to do, they just needed a system to do things more efficiently.
"Every day counts in this environment. You don’t want to miss a vessel booking. So, for the quality control, it was important for us that we would be able to instantly find out what’s going on"
Therefore, features such as real-time updates in Qarma appealed to Chris and his team. They also wanted to limit the amount of final inspections made, as they knew their suppliers would be more than capable of doing those themselves – they just needed a system to support it, which Qarma does.
Capturing quality data and changing mindsets
Further, with The Very Group being a highly data-driven company, being able to define and measure on own KPIs for increased proactivity, Qarma and its ability to capture the relevant data was a good match.
“A lesson learned for us in our search process was that many systems out there were too locked for us. Qarma were honest and listened all the way in the process and it was a give and take collaboration where we also found out that we actually had to change some things on our side to make it work. But we could see that Qarma knew their stuff and that we would get a lot of benefits with great simplicity. They didn’t just provide a tool but a change mindset,” Chris says.
Since implementing Qarma, The Very Group has received positive feedback from the users. Now, it’s much quicker to do inspections and it takes less time to make a report. This freed up time makes sure that QCs have the finger on the pulse. Further, it’s now possible to make parallel inspections, so they can still hit their delivery targets whilst getting all the needed visibility.
“We know that the people who do the inspections really value it. The whole purpose has been to make them more in control of things, and at the same time get the metrics we need to be able to keep living up to our quality promise to our customers”
The Very Group is rolling out Qarma on all areas of quality. Being virtually an online department store with products spread so wide, the company is pleased with the consistency Qarma ensures in the quality process.
“With Qarma, we’re going to have one version of the truth. It brings us closer to a collective quality orientation across countries, divisions, products and suppliers, and we’re excited to have the tool behind us and the ability to analyze and improve accordingly. It will be interesting to see the number of returns from customers drop,” Chris says.