Service Platform & Connectors Archives - SkillNet Solutions

400+ lululemon stores across US, Canada & Europe get ready for safe COVID-19 operations with POS upgrade

SkillNet helps lululemon stores upgrade to drive safe in-store customer experience.

After closing in March, lululemon US, Canada & Europe stores began re-opening in early June. This meant an increased focus on safe shopping for guests (customers).  As the first of US stores went live with Oracle Xstore POS upgrade in June, it allowed lululemon to initiate several measures to enable safe shopping.

As part of its “Make it together” program, SkillNet partnered with lululemon to identify one of the important initiatives to make shopping in the stores a safer experience. SkillNet used its POS expertise to reduce customer touch points during checkout process. For example, instead of having customers select their preferences for opting in or out of the retailer’s email campaigns, the educators (cashiers) can now directly do it on their behalf. This change makes checkouts both safe and quick, and enables smoother interaction between customer and cashier.

As a result of the POS upgrade, guests who shop online can now ship gifts to home, and also drop off their returns at the door instead of entering the stores. The upgrade also improved reporting capability for better decision making.

While the upgrade began before the pandemic, SkillNet team collaborated extensively and worked  remotely to overcome shutdown challenges, including moving some of the testing hardware to their homes and supporting longer acceptance test cycles.

Another key challenge of the upgrade was the large amount of data that needed to be migrated. In order to expedite the process of migration, SkillNet used its StoreHubTM platform to load data. With StoreHubTM, the team was able to use the available service connectors to the POS system without creating new integrations and this resulted in shortened timelines. SkillNet also introduced DevOps for the automation of build, tests and releases.

The upgrades not only enable lululemon to ensure safe shopping during Covid-19 but also be more prepared to ensure richer store experience in the new normal.

The “Make it together” program is a SkillNet initiative to support its retail partners during the COVID 19 pandemic. As part of the program, SkillNet provides free modifications to retailer’s POS, ecommerce and other applications, that enable safe and convenient shopping for their customers.

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POS reengineering for leading apparel retailer

A leading apparel retailer grows new personalized services line 5X in three years through speed, service & selection supported by POS reengineering

Brief 

A leading apparel retailer, successfully grew their new Custom Clothing line 5.5X in three years, with SkillNet’s reengineering of their legacy POS systems for higher speed, selection and service.  Now client’s Expert Style and Wardrobe consultants use an instore app on a handheld device to design and order custom tailored clothes.  

About the client 

The client is a leading specialty retailer, who deliver personalized products and services through an expansive omnichannel network that includes over 1,400 locations in the U.S. and Canada as well as branded e-commerce websites.

Challenge | Major technology transformation required to compete on speed, selection and service  

The client offers ready-to-wear clothing across their multiple specialty stores brands. In 2016, client saw an opportunity in offering Custom Clothing at the stores.

Expert wardrobe consultants and master tailors used an in-store app not only to order custom apparel but also advise on customizations available in styles, colors, fabric choices and for an optimal fit.   

However, the interaction offered a very narrow range of options for custom details like working buttonholes, pick stitching, lining, thread color and more.  In order to enhance customer experience and compete better in Custom Clothing, client needed to focus on three things: speed, selection and service.  

This was now a technology challenge for the legacy POS system. Clients heavily customized POS, still using flat files, required a three-month cycle to add every single custom option. As a further challenge, each of the nine sub-brands had their own customized legacy technology.  

Over the years, as no commercially available system could match the unique requirements, the legacy POS had been built with heavy customizations to match the business needs of client’s nine brands. This introduced technical debt and a limited ability to introduce new features without high risk of operational impact in multiple areas. 

The client realized the need to re-engineer their existing monolithic solution to enable further changes to their systems. In order to do this redesign from within they needed a partner with deep experience and capability on POS solutions that could work both with the latest technologies and the deployed legacy. They engaged SkillNet. 

Solution | Technology transformation using microservices, implemented incrementally 

SkillNet proposed a microservices approach for the legacy POS replacement. Their POS and stores expertise allowed them to identify the microservices to be extracted and used across multiple channels, providing omnichannel capability from the ground up. The creation of these services also meant the removal and simplification of existing POS customizations.

The first step was to re-architecture their data model. SkillNet created catalog, store, inventory schemas and built the micro-services on top of these schemas.  

The Store Service updates the data pertaining to a store and also manages the events and product labels available for the store within the company. Catalog service focuses on information pertaining to products, fabrics, models etc. It also holds the key information of a factory, company and labels available. When customers browse online, this application provides the information which is displayed.  The Inventory service provides information on any given fabric, based on the factory where its available.

In order to make the changes in the monolith system, the team not only needed a different architecture and tools but also introduced a different way of working, The DevOps enablement and agile approach represents complete transformation from previous practices for software development and project execution.   

While the transformation is ongoing, the initial phase has allowed introduction of new features in stores. To introduce these changes, SkillNet proposed a “Strangler Pattern” for incremental transformation of the overall solution. This allows for new features to be available early and avoids the need for a big program with a cliff hanger at the end of the implementation. 

Benefits | Increased Selection and Service Leads to 5.5X growth in three years 

The addition of new options (like a buttonhole or a thread, for example) would take three months before the transformation. After the reengineering, the client is able to add new options within days, which means that customers now have a higher selection and service available to them quickly. 

At one of the brands, the reserve custom line offers over 150 fabric choices from the most prestigious Italian mills and can be ordered in various silhouettes and styles. Customers can select from a variety of authentic custom details like working buttonholes, pick stitching, lining, thread color and more. Another of the brands custom line offers over 120 fabric choices. Customers can personalize their suits, sport coats, dress trousers, vests, tuxedos, and dinner jackets with various fits ranging from slim, tailored, and traditional.

The Custom Clothing business has grown to $276 M across brands in 2019, from $50 M three years before, a 5.5X growth. 

Given that the state of the art, leading-edge Retail systems are modular and support upgrades across business processes, the client’s team can easily maintain and deploy them independently. They can also adapt to leading-edge technologies easily.

SkillNet’s approach has resulted in the creation of a platform that can support continuous evolution. With a solution that can be tailored and modified quickly, the client can now offer a seamless customer experience.

During Covid-19, client’s team has used the microservices architecture to seamlessly enable online ordering for curbside pick-up.

All product names and trademarks are property of their respective owners.

Reimagining payments for Modern Commerce

The increase in the number of channels and payment types made the right design of integrated payment solutions a critical feature in the successful delivery of omnichannel.

The COVID crisis and the need for social distancing are making this feature not only critical but also essential, as customers avoid touch and proximity in their shopping experiences.

Watch our webinar “Reimagining payments for Modern Commerce” where we take a look at the projects and initiatives that retailers are prioritizing for the New Normal and cover one of the areas of more focus for retailers which is payment processing for Modern Commerce.

WE DISCUSSED:

  • Common challenges for the successful delivery of omnichannel payment integration pre-COVID
  • New business drivers for reimagining payments in the era of COVID
  • Current payment initiatives from our customers to address the lockdown and new normal
  • SkillNet’s StoreHub UTP approach for unified transaction processing

Antonio Alvaro | LinkedIn (Profile Link)

SVP Digital & Cloud Solutions & General Manager International at SkillNet Solutions Inc.

Gaurav Rastogi | LinkedIn (Profile Link)

CEO Doloop Digital

Making “click and collect” possible at more than 3000+ stores worldwide

Retail makeover allows shoppers to “click and collect” at more than 4200+ stores worldwide

Brief

SkillNet makes the mammoth task of integrating 4200+ stores to legacy systems seamless. As part of the solution SkillNet used its StoreHub platform, deployed on the cloud to integrate a vast array of inbound and outbound interfaces from Xstore solutions, Oracle Retail Customer Engagement (CE) and legacy enterprise systems. The system handles millions of daily transactions with more than tens of millions customer records.

About the client

The client is the largest distributor of professional beauty products in the U.S. based on store count. The Company operates primarily through two business segments and operates two formats of stores; one for salon professionals and other for retail shoppers. It sells and distributes through 4200+ stores, including 158 franchised units, and has operations throughout the United States and 13 countries.

Challenge | Complex integration with Oracle Xstore Upgrade

The client wanted to enhance their retail customers’ omnichannel experience and embarked on a digital transformation program which included the upgrade of their POS systems to Xstore.

Since the client had diverse technology for managing business operations, the upgrade and new store solution implementation would involve highly complex integration. The client also wanted to get a single version of truth with reporting at enterprise level. This meant that they had to ensure data integrity globally, across various brands and stores.

Solution | StoreHub, SkillNet’s platform framework for integration

The client partnered with SkillNet to take advantage of their deep expertise in retail systems and Oracle Xstore to address the integration challenges.

SkillNet’s expertise in retail data management not only helped resolve documentation gaps and application scalability issues, but also enabled the team to reverse engineer complex issues. SkillNet used its proprietary StoreHub accelerator, to surmount the complex integration challenges and speed the data integration process. The transaction and data records run in tens of millions customer records. Deployed on the cloud, StoreHub worked seamlessly with the legacy systems & the new POS systems. It also processes store inventory and pricing data daily and offers alerts in case of exception. These alerts help take preventive and corrective action. Finally, SkillNet also created a single version of truth data and enterprise level reporting at the Head Office with data from 4200+ stores.

Results | Enhancing customers’ shopping experience through the convenience of “click and collect at store” and “click and same day delivery”

Currently, 4200+ stores are live on Oracle POS systems. The new commerce systems and the ability to process vast amounts of transactions data means that the client’s team can generate customer inventory and other business insights seamlessly for making mission critical decisions without any delay. Maintenance costs have also been reduced.

The ability to process high volumes of transactions has enabled the client to support safer shopping experiences during COVID-19 by offering customers the convenience of “click and collect at store” and “click and get same day delivery”, 6 months ahead of schedule. This has resulted in a 40% increase in online orders. All product names and trademarks are property of their respective owners.

About SkillNet

SkillNet Solutions, Makers of Modern Commerce provide consulting and technology services to companies that are digitally transforming their retail business to modern commerce. Our services enable clients to rapidly anticipate and respond to changing consumer behaviour. Through engineering and enterprise-grade implementation of cloud and SaaS applications, SkillNet creates rich customer journeys for local and global brands to stay ahead of the curve. Our solution accelerators enable clients to quickly become more agile and efficient in harnessing technology.

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, SkillNet partners with industry leaders like Oracle, SAP Commerce Cloud (Hybris), Salesforce, Magento and AWS to enhance online and in-store experiences. Since 1996, we have worked with retailers across 53 countries to deliver exceptional customer experience and growth. Our award-winning solutions have enabled global retail brands in Apparel, Automotive, F&B, CPG, Grocery, Health & Beauty, Liquor, Pharmacies, Restaurants and Telecom to deliver the promise of modern commerce.

All product names and trademarks are property of their respective owners.

Accelerating Retail decisions with real-time data

Brief

Europe’s largest health and well-being retailer accelerates the pace of retail business decision making by implementing a data lake to enable stores to respond in real-time to customer needs.

About the client

The client is Europe’s largest health and well-being retailer of branded and own-label products across a wide range of vitamins, supplements, specialist food, sports nutrition, and ethical beauty. Founded in 1870, they focus on making people healthier and happier, operating more than 1300 stores worldwide as well as an expanding e-commerce business.

Challenge | Continuous product innovation requires real-time data

The client constantly innovates to meet customers’ needs, whether it is ethical sourcing or digital transformation to provide a world-class shopping experience. Continuous product innovation requires the client to better harness their data in real-time to make decisions such as refilling store inventory to avoid stock-outs, product manufacturing batch-sizes, offering new discounts, promotions, and customer rewards.

The business decision making was based on spreadsheets using data collected in silos from diverse systems and sources such as stores, audited sales, online sales, and SKU/stock data. This meant the process was slow (up to 48 hours to collect data), prone to mistakes (no single version of the truth), and not able to support business information requirements. This lack of real-time visibility was impeding the pace of innovation and customer responsiveness.

Solution | Improving business efficiency and customer experience through a data lake

After identifying the key business areas and decision insights required by client’s business finance teams, SkillNet created a data lake as the single source of truth by integrating data from multiple source technologies such as stores, audited sales, online sales and inventory. Using Oracle’s Business Intelligence platform, SkillNet automated data collation and report generation.

Hundreds of manual spreadsheets were replaced by automated reports that were run hourly, daily and weekly. Business users now have the ability to create near real-time visually impactful reports with self-service tools.

The solution enabled retailer’s team to gain visibility and proactive actionable insights across store systems and various lines of business.

Benefits | Making Better Decisions with real-time data

  • Availability of near-real-time (as compared to 2 or more days earlier) integrated data with automated reports
    • This has considerably reduced business decision cycles
    • Proactive decision making due to the business teams’ ability to generate user-friendly reports with near real-time data
    • Near real-time hierarchical store dashboards (Region, area, Store) and KPI reports on sales, ACT, conversion, engagement and loyalty participation
  • Dashboards with deeper data insights have helped the client’s business & store teams uncover newer insights
    • More informed decisions regarding inventory, discounts, shrinkage, product scan data and channel resulting in better responses to customer requirements.
    • Teams are being able to view sales data in near real-time and be more effective in their stock allocation and replenishment
    • Reduction in thefts and shrinkage
  • Regional Managers were spending ~15hrs per week on analysing and customizing reports. They now spend time with Area Managers and Store Managers to drive store performance

All product names and trademarks are property of their respective owners.

Reimagining payments for Modern Commerce

The Covid-19 crisis and the need for social distancing have made retailers rethink the right design of integrated payment solutions along with an increase in the number of channels and payment types. This feature not only critical but has also become essential, as customers avoid touch and proximity in their shopping experiences.

Watch SkillNet’s webinar “Reimagining payments for Modern Commerce” where we take a look at the projects and initiatives that retailers prioritized for the New Normal of Modern Commerce

WE DISCUSSED:

  • Common challenges for the successful delivery of omnichannel payment integration pre-COVID
  • New business drivers for reimagining payments in the era of COVID
  • Current payment initiatives from our customers to address the lockdown and new normal
  • SkillNet’s StoreHub UTP approach for unified transaction processing

Speakers

Antonio Alvaro

SVP Solutions & GM EMEA/LATAM, SkillNet Solutions Inc

Gaurav Rastogi

CEO – Doloop Digital

Watch the full webinar: Here

In-store & mobile digital experiences

Enabling 20% growth & safe in-store shopping for a leading athletic apparel retailer

Brief

SkillNet supports an athletic apparel retailer‘s ambitious plans for growth by enabling localization of store systems in 20+ countries across Asia, Europe and North Americas and safe store experiences during COVID-19.

About the client

The client makes athletic apparel for men and women for yoga, running, training and most other sweaty pursuits. The company has expanded internationally via their online platform and about 500 brick and mortar locations spanning North America, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Asia.

Challenge | Ensure rich in-store experiences across geographies

The client was bullish about achieving consistent double-digit growth through international expansion across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. The expansion in these regions was planned via a decentralized model, allowing for local community insight and consumer preferences to drive in-store experiences.

This meant that the client had to upgrade their payment systems and integrate their Xstore POS systems to support richer in-store experiences store including staff mobility. Other disparate retail systems also had to be integrated simultaneously to a tight deadline. For each country implementation, data migration, quality analysis and deployment delays had to be addressed in a timely manner.

Solution | Enabling seamless in-store experience with localization of retail systems

The Retailer partnered with SkillNet to deliver rich in-store experiences in 20+ countries. The program encompassed upgrade of POS systems and included country and region-specific localization. One of the key challenges of the upgrade was the large amount of data that needed to be migrated. In order to expedite the process of migration, SkillNet used its StoreHub platform to load data to the new solution. StoreHub, allowed the team to use the service connectors available in Oracle Xstore thus avoiding customization. Given the tight deadlines, SkillNet introduced DevOps for the automation of build, tests and releases and ensured productivity early on in the program.

Results | Contributing to 20% growth & COVID-19 readiness through safer and richer in-stores experiences

The partnership has seen more than 20+ successful store solutions roll outs across geographies. It is live in close to 400 stores and there are plans for adding more stores in the coming months. The upgrades have not only ensured richer in-store experiences through staff mobility which allows for better customer support but also ensured safe shopping during COVID-19. Guests who shop online can now ship gifts to home, and also drop off their returns at the door instead of entering the stores. The upgrade also improved reporting capability for better decision making.

All product names and trademarks are property of their respective owners.

Meet SkillNet at NRF 2020 booth #1334

NRF (National Retail Federation) is the biggest global industry event for retail with 40k+ attendees and 800+ exhibitors. As always, NRF2020 will be held at Jacob Jarvits NYC location from Jan 12-14, 2020. According to NRF, it is the must-attend week where retail movers and shakers from around the world come to learn, share, collaborate, network and inspire. SkillNet will be in presence again this year. Come join us, at NRF booth #1334 and learn how we are transforming retail. 

We will also host our annual customer appreciation event “Spark” on Jan 13th. Spark is an invitation only event where SkillNet’s past, current and future customers come together to network and exchange experiences in a fun, informal setting.

Visit_SkillNet_NRF_Booth_1334

For invitation reach out to us at http://www.skillnetinc.com/contact/

Nicaragua’s biggest home improvement retailer, SINSA, improves it customer satisfaction and inventory flows with future ready technology

Customer satisfaction is the hallmark of a business success. SINSA is achieving this from the first day of go-live of Oracle Retail Solutions. SkillNet is proud to be the leader for this digital transformation of SINSA’s business operations.

Founded in 1990, SINSA is the largest home improvement retailer in Nicaragua. The product range of SINSA includes hardware, tiles, and electric components etc. It has four business units; and retail business accounts for nearly three forth of its overall revenues.

SINSA currently operates 24 stores and a unique Truck retail store concept with close to 65,000 different SKUs for customers to choose from. Its mission is to offer an integral solution to all customers in construction, renovation and decoration projects.

Recently, SkillNet completed implementation of a number of Oracle Retail solutions to fulfill the mission of SINSA. The solutions included end-to-end retail application systems right from Merchandising to Point of sale (POS) such as Merchandising Operations Management, Store Inventory Management, Xstore Point-of-Service, Customer Engagement (CRM) and Order Broker. This has been a unique implementation with complex retail business processes, compliance requirements and business model. The new store applications are seamlessly integrated with SINSA’s enterprise systems.

“What should a true digital transformation look like? Either it should reduce the operational challenges or it should improve customer satisfaction. SkillNet has been instrumental in achieving both the goals in a single implementation for SINSA.”

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Enhancing customer journeys on cloud

Enabling an apparel retailer’s $1billion eCommerce operations with enhanced customer journeys

Brief

SkillNet partnered with the client to support peak season traffic with rich online customer journeys resulting in increased growth.

About the client

The client is an internationally recognized omnichannel retailer of women’s, men’s and children’s apparel, shoes and accessories. The Company operates close to 500 retail stores & several online properties across a variety of brands.

Challenge | Supporting new customer journeys and increased online traffic with legacy systems

The client had a very large and successful eCommerce operation (close to a billion USD). Since peak season transactions and traffic contributed heavily to the growth of online operations, the client’s team wanted to offer enhanced customer journeys with new shopping features and increased personalization, while ensuring that the systems could scale to support increased volumes.

The client’s legacy systems had been in place for a while and had all the challenges of a monolith system. Ongoing product updates to the web site were not only time consuming, but also resource intensive. Since it was also difficult to support new customer journeys and the expected demands during peak time traffic, they also decided to relook at their eCommerce systems.

Solution | Enabling seamless eCommerce migration

It was decided to migrate to newer cloud-based retail system using microservices architecture. Given that eCommerce contributed heavily to the company revenues, any upgrade or changes to the site had to be undertaken without impacting the ongoing operations. SkillNet’s not only managed the risk but also ensured seamless migration of order management which was then followed by the new cloud-based eCommerce system.

To ensure a smooth migration to the cloud the SkillNet team translated the business processes of the legacy systems. After decoupling the legacy retail system from other services, the team created enhanced customer journeys for online and mobile users. New features like cart notification (change in prices), alerts, gamification (which enables cross selling & customized promotions) have been added to enhance customer’s shopping experience.

Results | Online growth with enhanced customer journeys on the cloud

Since the web pages are now server based, they load faster and this has improved customer experience. The new features on the site like cart notification, alerts and gamification have resulted in a 10% increase in year-on-year e-commerce sales. The site soon clocked $1 billion.

The platform processes several thousands of orders daily during peak season and supports multi-million dollars in orders in an hour across brands.

A new UI has resulted in a massive surge in mobile sales with 15% conversion of mobile orders across brands. There were days when smart phones contributed to 84% of the traffic.

The headless commerce system also ensures that changes to the front end can be made quickly and developers save time on user interface change, resulting in increased efficiencies.

The new system also ensured increased efficiencies in inventory and order management systems.

All product names and trademarks are property of their respective owners.