Power Apps development – retail case study

Power Apps development – retail case study

The client

Munro Footwear Group is the leading Australian house of brands for fashion shoes, and are custodians of iconic footwear brands including Midas, Mollini, Django and Juliette, Diana Ferrari, Colorado and more

They have more than 290 stores and 2000 employees nationallyWith perhaps the largest shoe inventory in the world (~ 500,000 SKUs), the Munro Footwear Group incorporates leading edge technology for the benefit of its internal stakeholders, as well as their growing customer base.

Power Apps Development for Munro Footwear

A rapid pivot triggers a digital transformation

Covid forced Munro to pivot, innovate, and embrace digital in a wholesale way. With people unable to move around and retail heavily impacted, tech came into sharp focus.  

In footwear, inventory is difficult to manage because the packaging takes up so much space. It’s difficult to have lots of inventory in the warehouse to fulfil web orders, as well as inventory in the stores where you can present them to customers—Placing inventory in shops and warehouses for the two different channels is expensive. So, to have a leaner inventory holding while still presenting the full range online it’s crucial for an online customer to be able to buy products from the warehouse or the shops.  

Munro recognised an opportunity with omni channel fulfilment, where people can buy online, and the store will pack it and ship it. 

However, they first had to overcome a major challenge – that a large part of the Munro business is not suited to omni channel fulfilment due to the age of technology (such as the Point-of-Sale (POS) systems) used by some of their chains. 

The POS system was built in the 90’s, and to completely overhaul it at such a large scale is a project that’s measured in months or years. While they had a plan to replace it, it’s not something that can be switched on overnight. 

Developing a solution with Power Apps

While Munro couldn’t change the POS quickly and safely to pivot, they did have Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Supply Chain systems that could manage omni-channel fulfilment. They just needed something simple to surface the web order to the store and integrate the app to their carrier and our ecommerce platform. Essentially turning the back of house of a store into a mini warehouse. To achieve their solution, they harnessed the simplicity of the cloud and Power App’s low code capabilities. 

This approach meant they didn’t have to change the POS, it is low risk, and there’s no big rollout.  They were able to deploy this utility on multiple devices, from a tablet to a handheld Android, to a desktop PC. Enabling every store to log in, view orders that are assigned to them, and determine whether they can pick, pack, and dispatch. In cases where goods are scratched/not fit for sale, stores can reject the order – in which case the system finds another store that can fulfil the order. 

By combining all the stock within the outlets, Munro was able to create a virtual warehouse.

You've got to find the right partner that knows what they're doing. Our job is to make sure the shoes keep selling. Empyrean had the right resources, and a really competitive rate card so we could make the business case work.

The Power Apps use case

Munro considered existing solutions to solve this challenge, however there were two critical requirements that influenced their decision in favour of Power Apps: 

  1. They knew they had to get the user interface right and wanted to have control over the user experience.  
    The outcome is an app that is so simple it looks like a social media app, and it takes 10 minutes to train a store. It’s so intuitive, they were able to open 6 stores and stand up the new fulfilment process within 24 hours. Drastically different to their previous experiences rolling out POS systems and training staff. 
  2. Munro have large systems that cover large areas like warehousing, finance, ecommerce, POS, etc. Omni channel fulfilment was a use case that falls between big systems. They could either do nothing and live with the problem or build a shadow IT solution. 
    They chose to build a solution to fill the gap and decided to find a low code application to take away the complexity of deployment, hosting, and upgrades – like Platform as a Service.  

Choosing a Power Apps development partner

Munro knew that the return-on-investment could be massive, but they needed a partner that knew what they’re doing. It wasn’t worth investing in internal resources to build the solution, and if Munro’s team was going to spend 2 months learning a platform, they would miss the boat. Their team knew about how the business works and how to plug it into the rest of the systems. But they didn’t know anything about Power Apps, and they don’t intend to become engineering experts because their focus is to make sure the shoes keep selling.  

Fortunately, Empyrean had the right resources and a competitive rate card so Munro could make the business case work. 

Empyrean built an initial low-cost solution to demonstrate that a Power App could solve Munro’s problem. The solution worked so well, and the ROI is so great, that there’s now a pipeline of improvement that is an order of magnitude bigger than the initial investment.  

Power Apps development process

There are often gaps between large systems (e.g., ERP, POS), and these platforms often don’t bend enough for each individual circumstance. While many will have a module that could potentially fit the use case, it often comes at an eye-watering price. The time to solution is also prohibitive – finding the right person to talk to, only to discover it will take 4 weeks to configure the system even to try it.  

Munro found a better way. 

  • They knew the solution could be kept simple. They leant on the expertise of their inhouse IT team to know ‘what are the red lines that must not be crossed and what is the real value proposition for the store’. Armed with this knowledge, they spent a lot of time with Empyrean designing the interface because they knew that in retail staff members are very busy, and they didn’t want to burden them with complicated, drawn-out projects. Munro approached the project with the mindset that ‘if I can’t see it on the menu, it’s too hard to find’ and if they need to complete a task like dispatching shoes – make that process as easy as tapping two buttons. 
  • Munro also had to overcome the challenge that there are often generations of devices in retail. A legacy of opening stores over time and acquiring different businesses. The Power Platform enabled most cross-platform capability.  
  • Empyrean’s business analyst worked with the Munro team to workshop the solution upfront – mapping out the process before providing a quote to ensure it could be delivered with the power platform.  
  • A low-cost pilot (~$8k) was turned around in less than a month, to demonstrate to the executive team how the problem could be solved and get buy-in for the full development of this and other apps. 

Outcomes of the omni channel fulfilment Power App

  • The efficiency between the app store and someone walking in is significant. With walk-ins the conversion rate is less than 50%, and with shoes in particular customer service is expensive because most people will try on 2-3 pairs of shoes which will take 30 minutes. 
  • The app allows pre-qualified customers with zero cost of service to be sold shoes from the store. 
  • Munro are now selling 5 – 10 pairs of shoes, per store, per day, through the app. 

With the success of the omni-channel fulfilment app, Munro are now turning their attention to other processes within their business that can be improved with Power Apps. Read about their HR Power App here. 

The Numbers

Shoe inventory



Low-cost pilot

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