“Mattresses are all about support and comfort. No matter how much our industry wants to commoditize this product, the vast majority of people will want to finalise their decision instore. Importantly,our new website is mobile friendly and rich in content, making it easy for those who want to research brands and products while shopping. At Forty Winks, our ultimate objective is to help customers appreciate that they have to experience a mattress before they can be certain it’s the right one for them. ”
Insightive.tv: What kind of environment did you inherit and are you looking to change things?
David: My biggest challenge is to re-establish trust between the Forty Winks national support centre and franchise owners. The best way for me to build rapport with the Members and to fast track my understanding of the business, was to get out into the network. I committed to meeting with the owners and teams of all 97 stores in my first 100 days. I completed my travels about a fortnight ago.
My predecessors and the Forty Winks’ Leadership Team have made inroads into transforming the business from a spirited and passionate buying co-operative into a national franchise operation. If I am to successfully grow the network and help optimise store performance, I will need to draw upon the best of both models – celebrating the entrepreneurial culture of a buying collective while laying the foundation for effective business processes and an efficient franchise structure. My mantra is: think like a corporate, act like an independent. Technology is the catalyst for this transformation.
Insightive.tv: In terms of digital transformation — what processes and systems are your priorities and what are the difficulties in implementation?
David: The most pressing priority is to implement a consistent point of sale system throughout the business. We are still operating a number of legacy systems. Some stores still operate on manual processes. Deploying the approved POS system across our stores will help standardise business practices, enable accurate data collection and generate valuable insights into the performance of the network.
Forty Winks had identified a burning need for the business to collate accurate sales and inventory data in a timely manner. Prior to my commencement, Forty Winks had already selected its preferred POS system and proof of concept stores had already been deployed. However, it was a difficult implementation and frustrated Members voiced their discontent. I took the decision to halt the program and allocate the time and resources to address all issues and any concerns.
Three months later, we were ready to reinstate the program and reinitiate an accelerated deployment schedule, requiring all stores to adapt to national business processes. In return for our Members support, I have appointed a full-time project manager to assist with instore set up and staff training.
My objective is to complete the network rollout by the end of 2018.
Forty Winks is also committed to growing its digital marketing capability in order to personalise our communications, thereby making it a more rewarding customer experience. While the National Support Centre is comprised of only 25 people, the team includes two digital specialists. It was exciting to join a business that recognised the importance of having a comprehensive digital strategy and the courage to make a substantial investment in the resources to execute it.
Insightive.tv: What do you think has been your most valuable asset in adapting to these changes?
David: From our perspective, the bedding industry is heavily reliant on promotion to help drive foot traffic. In June, we relaunched our website. While the site has an effective e-commerce capability, its main objective is to drive customers intostore.
Forty Winks considers itself to be a sleep specialist business. We only sell mattresses and bedroom furniture. Ultimately we want to differentiate ourselves from other specialists by uniquely repositioning ourselves as the ‘sleep experts’.
While I am reluctant to document all the tools we are putting in place to help differentiate our brand, I can reveal we have entered into an exclusive agreement with Kingsdown Australia to introduce a global diagnostic system called bedMATCH. As the name implies, the system qualifies each customers’ required level of support and identifies those mattresses which most closely meets their needs. If required, the system will even recommend a custom designed mattress which can be produced locally within 7 days.
Forty Winks will roll out this project in May 2018.
While most people simply crave a good night’s sleep, Forty Winks believes there is a strong correlation between the quality of our rest and the health and wellbeing of our minds and bodies. bedMATCH is capable of crafting an individual solution to meet the specific needs of every customer.
In this way, technology will help Forty Winks to improve lives through affording customers a better night’s sleep.
As the face of retail is changing, David Edwards is spearheading a strategy at Forty Winks that uses online technology and digitally aided in-store consultations to remain at the forefront of the market. Bringing to bear experience from corporate structures and small business, Edwards is creating a hybrid model that taps entrepreneurial franchise spirit and national support structures in a digital age.
Forty Winks is Australia’s leading bedding and bedroom furniture specialist. David Edwards became CEO of Forty Winks at the start of 2017.