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Lorraine Lea – Freshening a business model fuels sales growth

“Despite COVID-19 lockdowns, Lorraine Lea achieved an average increase in sales of 38% over the period April, May and June 2020. These results are phenomenal. Had we have not had the new website and the integrated Pronto Xi ERP system to back it up, we’d currently be closed.”

Anne Petracca, CEO, Lorraine Lea

As one of Australia’s largest social shopping enterprises for linen and homewares, Lorraine Lea enjoyed tremendous success. In recent times however, revenue from the 30+ years old business model began to decline. Lorraine Lea was finding it difficult to attract new Stylists (sales professionals) and Hosts (customers) to hold the parties, resulting in a declining number of bookings and sales.

Anne Petracca, CEO, Lorraine Lea explained, “We identified that the business was at a crossroads. Party plan businesses were losing relevance with major changes in buying behaviour – the convenience of the shopper was critical, and they had an ever-increasing array of choices via online shopping. To maintain relevance, we needed to go digital. To be clear however, I knew this was not just about creating a new website. The type of change we needed was ‘all encompassing’. Nothing was sacred, except the one key ingredient our business was built on, independent Stylists offering a personalised, exceptional shopping experience for every customer.”

On the path to becoming an omnichannel retailer, Lorraine Lea uncovered significant inefficiencies across the operations that needed to be addressed. Some created double handling of data that drained valuable resources and fuelled data silos. “The main roadblock was our ERP system which was implemented more than 20 years ago. Basically, it was not built to meet the current demands of business and was stifling collaboration and change,” Ms Petracca explained.

The business made a choice for a new ERP system but six months into the implementation it became clear that this vendor was not suited. Ms Petracca said, “The challenge was that we were re-inventing our business, so the scope of work was not pre-set. We needed an agile, iterative process that was not for the faint-hearted ERP vendor who wanted a ‘drop & go’ cookie-cutter approach. I had worked with Pronto Software before and I went to them as we needed a technology partner who could run this marathon of excellence with us!”

The solution delivered by Pronto Woven transformed the frontend face of Lorraine Lea operations, bringing eCommerce and social media to each of the 50,000 parties the business holds annually. Important back office business functions were also streamlined by integrating multiple processes and systems into one easy-to-use application.

“By leveraging this (Pronto Xi ERP) system, we’ve created a super easy, fun and flexible way for women to earn extra income around a busy family and lifestyle. A stylist can now run their business online from their phone, their personalised website, on social media and through in-home and online events. This absolute ease Lorraine Lea now presents for people to run a little business, has attracted a new pool of younger, tech-savvy entrepreneurs. Our transformation contributed to a 64% growth in the sales force – providing access to an entirely new demographic of Lorraine Lea customers,” Ms Petracca said.

“We also offer promotions now that were never run before, because our old system did not have the capability. We’ve learned flash sales – even something as simple as dollar shipping – are far more effective than previously run monthly offers. With access to the sales revenue data from every promotion, we analyse and refine to perfection – offering our customers what they most value. This solution is a game-changer for Lorraine Lea as it enables us to gain an edge on our competition,” Ms Petracca said.

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