Augustus Martin Case Study

Augustus Martin is a leading UK print company, specialising in store-based customer promotional materials for major brands and retail giants such as Tesco. In business for more than half a century, and with production facilities in London, Manchester and Brussels, Augustus Martin supports the full spectrum of point-of-sale (PoS), point-of-purchase and outdoor media campaigns for clients across Europe.

Challenge

Augustus Martin is always looking for ways to add value for its customers. So when Tesco went out to the market in search of a solution to manage all of its point-of-sale materials more cohesively across the UK, it naturally pitched for the business. Despite not being a software company, Augustus Martin has built up a deep understanding of Tesco’s business, including its different operations such as Tesco Books and Tesco Bank, and knew that if it could partner with the right software provider it could come up with a powerful solution.

As Tesco’s largest PoS materials provider, Augustus Martin understood first-hand the complexities the retail group wanted to bring under control. These included the need to improve end-to-end visibility of promotions; ensure campaign compliance across all stores; and track the effectiveness of campaigns, both as a whole and according to specific parameters. Tesco also wanted to make it easier for stores to liaise with individual Tesco business units, such as Tesco F&F clothing, Tesco Mobile and Tesco Books, about their in-store promotions and materials.

Augustus Martin Case Study
Augustus Martin Case Study

Solution

Augustus Martin won the Tesco pitch, and needed to identify a bespoke software provider with the skills and experience to translate its vision for a solution into something tangible. It found DCSL Software when searching the internet for reputable software development firms near London. Knowing the Tesco project would be a major undertaking, the firm was reassured to find that DCSL Software had an extensive solutions architecture and development team.

They were able to assign more people at very short notice, which was impressive. Read more.

Ashley Welch, Augustus Martin’s group IT director, Augustus Martin

“Sure enough, the specification for the system started small and snowballed – from a £60,000 to a £1.2 million project,” says Ashley Welch, Augustus Martin’s group IT director. “Tesco told us what they wanted but as we added our ideas of what else they could achieve, and DCSL Software provided technical expertise on what else was possible, their ambitions grew until we were talking about a comprehensive PoS campaign lifecycle management accessed via a web-based portal.”

Through a highly collaborative, iterative development process – which allowed all parties to agree the system was moving in the right direction – DCSL Software developed the system using the latest Microsoft web technologies. These include ASP.NET Core, with SQL Server at the back end and unobtrusive JavaScript (uJS) at the front end, to maximise system performance.

Augustus Martin Case Study
Augustus Martin Case Study

Outcome

Due to the system’s criticality to Tesco’s national retail in-store promotions, and its increasing scope, the project ran for two years, at times involving up to 12 developers working on the system. “The project was challenging at times, as priorities changed, but DCSL managed extremely well – with plenty of resource and capacity,” Ashley says. “They were able to assign more people at very short notice, which was impressive.”

Tesco is now live with the new system across its national business – spanning 3,000 Tesco stores, and 60,000 PoS fixtures. A comprehensive database contains details of everything that is happening across Tesco’s stores at any one time.

This initial rollout serves tens of thousands of users across Tesco nationally. And that’s before the system’s use has been extended to Tesco Mobile, Tesco Bank, Tesco F&F and more. All of these business divisions will use the system in time, so the deployment will only get bigger.

The early reaction to the system has exceeded all expectations. “At Tesco’s annual conference at Birmingham NEC, the head of retail described the system as ‘the best piece of software he’d ever introduced to retail’, and stores couldn’t wait to use it,” Ashley says.

The store portal front-end has been particularly well received, he adds. “This contains information relevant to each store, and is mobile friendly so, to check whether a store’s display is compliant, staff can submit a photo on the spot.”

The system is highly intuitive too, which was demonstrated during one store’s early trial of the software. “With little or no training, staff were up and running straight away – and they loved it,” Ashley recalls.

“Tesco can already see the difference the system will make and, although we can’t mention their specific forecasts and related plans, they are significant,” he adds. “Being able to see and manage everything within one central system will make it easy to track and report on vendor KPIs, speed up shipping, and provide ROI on marketing campaigns, among other substantial benefits.”

At Tesco’s annual conference at Birmingham NEC, the head of retail described the system as ‘the best piece of software he’d ever introduced to retail’, and stores couldn’t wait to use it. Read more.

Ashley Welch, Augustus Martin’s group IT director, Augustus Martin

Future

Tesco is not the only retailer to be excited by the system DCSL Software has developed for Augustus Martin. Through word of mouth, other major retailer and consumer-goods brands have learnt of its development. As they all share many of the same PoS marketing coordination challenges, they too have expressed a keen interest in having their own version of the system.

“The phone has been ringing off the hook,” Ashley enthuses. “We expect to resell the software to the several large retailers,” he says. “It could easily sell internationally too, thanks to the way the system has been built.”

To manage costs, Augustus Martin has taken over responsibility for any new phases of development, though Ashley says he has left the door open for future collaboration with DCSL, because the partnership has proved so successful. “It might be that we are suddenly inundated with orders for other versions of the system, exceeding our internal capacity – in which case we will be sure to call on the team at DCSL again,” he concludes.