David Jones builds IT team for 'multi-channel' project

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David Jones builds IT team for 'multi-channel' project

Reallocates staff, inks outsourcing deal.

Retail giant David Jones has pulled together a team of 100 technologists in a bid to modernise after years of under-investment in IT.

About half the team was “reallocated” from existing staff, according to David Jones’ group executive of retail services, Tony Karp.

Other members were supplied by outsourcer IBM, which recently won a March 2011 tender to develop David Jones’ “multi-channel” retail platform.

Karp has been responsible for David Jones’ procurement and IT since a management reshuffle earlier this month, when IT manager Karen McLachlan left for personal reasons.

Noting that David Jones’ current online shop front stemmed from technology it acquired with e-tailer TheSpot in 2000, Karp said David Jones was largely “playing catch-up” in the IT space.

“We have not been good investors in the IT space for a number of years,” he said. “You only have to walk into one of our stores and look at the point-of-sales technology to see that.

“[But] when you’re playing catch-up, sometimes it’s not a bad thing because you learn from others and their mistakes.”

Karp said David Jones’ new multi-channel model was “very aligned” with those of Nordstrom in the US and John Lewis in Britain.

By September, David Jones hopes to roll out the first phase of its multi-channel project, based largely on IBM’s Smarter Commerce technology portfolio.

The project, expected to conclude by Christmas, will allow customers to shop online, opt to pick up goods in-store or have them delivered, and request to return items via phone, web, or in-person.

Customers will also be able to post items to wish lists and share their list of purchases with their contacts, generating data that could allow David Jones to offer targeted deals and tap into social media marketing.

Karp said David Jones staff would integrate the multi-channel platform into its core corporate systems, including a proprietary merchandise system, JOLTS 2, and an Oracle finance system.

Although neither needed to be upgraded to support the new platform, he said an upgrade to the 14-year-old JOLTS 2 was “on the to do list”.

By March next year, David Jones also plans to have replaced its 2500 ageing NCR point-of-sales systems across the country with faster, more energy-efficient, touch-screen technology.

The point-of-sales rollout will kick off late this year in partnership with British vendor PCMS and an as-yet unnamed hardware supplier.

“We are back in the information management space in a very big way,” Karp said, describing plans to become a “bricks and clicks” business.

“We’re not just jazzing up the front-end; this [multi-channel project] is a stand-alone business unit that has been created to develop a multi-dimensional solution.”

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