Specialty Fashion builds up ecommerce systems


Former Walmart exec takes the IT reins.

Specialty Fashion Group will roll out a multi-tenanted ecommerce platform across its seven brands this year, in a bid to boost online sales and improve customers’ “omni-channel experience”.

The company, which operates women’s fashion brands including Millers, Katies and La Senza, this week reported a $2.8 million loss after experiencing a tough retail environment in the 2011-12 financial year.

Online sales grew to $15 million, representing 2.6 percent of revenue for the year. Specialty Fashion aimed to have online sales account for 15 percent of its total sales by 2015 (pdf).

The company’s new ecommerce platform was designed to integrate with merchandising, warehouse and customer relationship management (CRM) systems and serve seven online stores.

Chief information officer Viren Shah told iTnews at the CIO Strategy Summit this week that the stores resided on different platforms under an “architecture that was built based on business need, over time” in previous years.

“Rather than [having] every website on its own platform, [we have built] the ability to have one platform providing a single back-end interface with different user interfaces on the same platform,” he explained.

Shah joined Specialty Fashion Group in February, after 11 years at US retail giant Walmart.

He was tasked with supporting an “omni-channel experience” that would allow customers to interact seamlessly with Specialty Fashion, whether in-person, on the phone, through a mobile application, or online.

David Jones and Myer have embarked on similar projects in recent years, in a move from a bricks-and-mortar to a “bricks-and-clicks” industry.

In the 12 months to June 30, Specialty Fashion reported spending $16 million on stores and IT, including new supply chain planning and customer analytics systems.

The company boasted “one of largest databases of women in Australia”, with its 7.3 million loyalty program members accounting for 80 percent of sales.

It had an internal CRM agency, Noodlebox, which was tasked with providing customer insights.

“Our customers speak to us in many different places: when they shop with us; on social media, on phone; on emails,” Shah said.

“Our Noodlebox focus is to find a way to get this structured and unstructured information collated so that we can assist their shopping with us.”

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Specialty Fashion builds up ecommerce systems
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