ForbiddenPlanet.Com, the largest sci-fi entertainment store in Europe caters to a loyal following of enthusiastic consumers across 9 stores in the UK. Headquartered in London, over 230 staff nationwide with its 10,000sq feet flagship Megastore on Shaftesbury Avenue in central London. ForbiddenPlanet.Com has grown significantly in recent years, meaning its organisational requirements have grown with it. As a result, ForbiddenPlanet.Com in-house IT team devised and built several FileMaker apps, all of which help to streamline business operations across the entire company.
A retail-centric SMB at its core, ForbiddenPlanet.Com faced similar challenges to many other businesses of its kind, the biggest of which was keeping timely track of where stock was at any one time. Combine this with the fact that business has some 50 million product related records and a dedicated online store, and the task for both picking and warehouse teams became a whole lot harder.
The company’s proliferation and resulting success in the online domain also meant it had a significant task of mailing out purchases, interacting with couriers, and calculating relevant postage costs. Initially done on separate disparate systems, ForbiddenPlanet.Com was losing valuable time and money in these lengthy additional administrative duties.
In addition to the burgeoning product lines, as staff levels increased, the associated responsibility for those staff members also grew. With employees reliant on IT systems to do their jobs, any tech maintenance issues had to be rectified as quickly as possible to ensure continuation of the high-level of customer service that ForbiddenPlanet.Com prides itself on.
If a staff member comes to one of the in-house development teams with a business problem, 99 times out of 100 it can be solved with a FileMaker-built custom app. The word 'custom' is so important, as you can't buy these applications off the shelf. In just a few days we can create solutions that look, feel and operate exactly how the employee wants - enabling them to get their job done more efficiently and in a cooler way.
Gary Palmer, IT Director, ForbiddenPlanet.Com
To successfully cope with the picking and logging of retail orders, due in part to ForbiddenPlanet.Com’s online push, the company’s warehouse team needed a helping hand. In just six weeks the development team created a FileMaker custom app which runs on iPad, and looked so good it could easily be mistaken for a native iOS app. This solution enables 20 warehouse pixies to see pick lists, pull reports, and with every item being scanned as it is picked allows updating of stock levels in real-time.
All the product information is controlled by a centralised FileMaker app called EposDB, a truly enterprise class system which is comprised of over 50 million product related records. The lynchpin of the entire organisation - EposDB allows complete visibility into product stock levels, most popular product lines, and is used by everyone from sales goblins on the shop floor, to financial controllers and senior management.
Once the products are picked, a FileMaker-built Mail Order management app handles everything from keeping shipping costs updated, dispatch dates, direct interaction with couriers and handling relevant payment with these third-parties. This means staff save countless hours of calculation and organisation - allowing them to better use their time by fulfilling orders more efficiently.
The introduction of FileMaker custom apps into all elements of ForbiddenPlanet.Com’s business gives employees a ‘one-stop-shop’ of solutions that can help them in their administrative duties. Also, with the new raft of improvements and modifications to the platform - ForbiddenPlanet.Com’s solutions continue to stay polished and professional.
Interfacing seamlessly between different FileMaker apps, and also with additional third-party systems and hardware is also vital to the way that the company now operates, with data feeding in and out of these solutions. This helps to create visibility across the entire organisation, and as a result the team is in the process of creating custom dashboards which will be able to monitor efficiencies within different departments and predict external buying trends. Having a company-wide overview such as this will aid ForbiddenPlanet.Com’s management to make informed decisions on the way in which the company grows and develops in the future.
ForbiddenPlanet.Com is currently planning to increase the amount of iPad development, as the existing FileMaker Go-based apps have proved to work incredibly well in ForbiddenPlanet.Com’s warehouse. By rolling out additional mobile apps - it is hoped that staff will be able to work more flexibly, having access to the systems they need to do their jobs regardless of where they are.