Saks Project Evolution: IT Transformation
Saks, Inc. is evolving to embrace omni-channel retailing through a series of infrastructure and systems enhancements slated to take place over the next several years. This is a transitional time for the company and these investments will position Saks for the future, allowing it to deliver incremental sales and improve operating margins over time.
To support its omni-channel and IT initiatives, Saks will invest one-third of its $120 million CapEx on Project Evolution, a multi-year transformation of and investment in systems technology with Oracle. Project Evolution will deliver new merchandising, finance and human resources systems and capabilities on an integrated application suite for the entire business.
The project will follow a phased implementation through 2016. "We said it's a little more front-loaded in the first couple of years, so you're now in the year one, which is a big expense," said Steven Sadove, CEO for Saks on a recent call with investors. "And year two, next year, should also have a reasonably hefty capital expense."
In the early stages, Project Evolution allows the retailer to integrate the inventories, to be able to ship from dot.com business or from the stores and to be able to start shifting inventory around from one channel to another.
Saks will also implement the retail merchandising applications of Project Evolution, which will include price management, stock ledger, purchase order management, assortment planning and store inventory management. Benefits will include inventory integration along a common platform, improved planning collaboration and functionality between full-line stores and Saks Direct, and improved reporting and analytics. By fall 2013, the retailer expects to be able to fulfill online orders out of Saks Fifth Avenue stores.
"We've been ramping up our capabilities on the technology side, continuing to make sure that we're best-in-class relative to the experience," said Sadove.
Saks.com is a key piece of the retailer's omni-channel shopping experience because customers use both channels with fluidity and want the advantages of personal service, the ability to touch products and shopping as an experience. Customers also want the advantages of online, like broad merchandise selection, convenience, rich product information and customer reviews and tips. The goal is to blend these experiences.
Over the last year, Saks has also made improvements in its customer service scores and is committed to providing associates with the right tools, including technology and training. The retailer strives to build personal relationships, create excitement and fun, and provide special moments and memorable experiences to all of its customers. Sales associates have embraced selling initiatives and the importance of omni-channel selling using iPads in stores, offering great in-store experiences that build loyalty.
For related content: