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The mechanics behind successful customer experience

Delivering Successful Customer Experience

Being a maker of modern commerce isn’t just about building cool looking applications and utilizing the latest and greatest architectural patterns. It’s about a complete and holistic approach to delivering a superior customer experience. Right now, as we enter the New Normal, everyone seems to be talking “customer experience” and that’s certainly a step in the right direction. But what are the mechanisms required to deliver a successful customer experience that will differentiate and separate your retail business from  the competition?

Focus on the Customer

While it’s important to have a strong and stable back-end supporting your applications and systems, without a focus on the front-end experience all those great integrations and data sharing won’t matter once the application is deployed in stores. If the experience isn’t usable and fails to meet the customer’s needs, whether the customer is the consumer or employee, the application will collect dust on a shelf and not be used. This will result in an application which will be a complete waste of money.

Focusing on the front-end means talking to your customers and finding out what they want and need. What’s also important to remember is that many customers may not know what they want and need. Or, worse, be wrong about what they think they want or need. If you get this wrong then you’re back to “App on a Shelf”. So how do you get this right?

Modern Methods for Modern Commerce

  • Agile
  • Design Thinking
  • DevOps

Usually, the first modern development methodology that comes to mind is Agile. While certainly not without its problems, Agile is a far cry and way above the traditional waterfall approach. It also has many different incarnations such as Kanban and Scrum that allow teams to find out what works for them. But what’s most important is keeping Agile as a philosophy and remembering the key values of Agile and not let yourself get caught up in the processes and “rules” of Agile. Trust your teams to build working software through constant collaboration with customers and never be afraid to respond to change.

As you work in an Agile environment, Design Thinking becomes a critical piece of the development puzzle. By working interactively with the Design Thinking steps, and not being afraid to work the steps out of order, you can build better applications, prototypes, and a customer experience that will better serve your business. Design Thinking is about making sure you hit all the important concepts. You have to start with talking to your customers and determine what they want and need. Then you need to define these wants and needs as requirements. Next, have brainstorming sessions with your team to develop new and innovative ideas. Building a prototype based on these ideas will allow you to do some testing and get some valuable feedback. This feedback will tell you what you need to do next. Maybe you need to go back and talk to your customers again. Maybe your requirements were off. Maybe your idea needs a few tweaks.

With both Agile and Design Thinking it’s time to get technical. This is where DevOps comes in. Like both Agile and Design Thinking, DevOps is an iterative approach that constantly loops back on itself to improve and proactively produce working software that is usable, desirable, and feasible. The cycle of DevOps allows for working releasable software to be in constant production. By always building releasable software on a consistent basis, you can easily react to new customer requirements instead of having to wait for a yearly scheduled release.

Continuous Improvement

The only way to improve is to collect and analyze quality feedback from your customers. There are multiple ways to generate this feedback. On one end of the spectrum are surveys. These can be sent out to customers as an email where, hopefully, enough customers will participate to create adequate actionable feedback. On the other end of the feedback generation spectrum is direct one-on-one interviews with customers. This may be more difficult with consumers than employees but it is extremely worth the effort. This is how you find out whether or not you truly understood what your customers desired and whether or not you delivered. The key here is that negative feedback is good. Negative feedback is actionable. Positive feedback feels good but doesn’t really give a viable means to improve. And if you’re not improving then you’re stagnating and if you’re stagnating then your competition is about to pass you by. In between surveys and interviews are focus groups where the opinions of groups of customers are solicited. This is another  great way to gather large amounts of feedback quickly and in an inexpensive manner.

In summary, using modern methodologies, focusing on end customer experience, and gathering continuous feedback will allow retailers to deliver a successful customer experience to consumers and employees. It will also keep you to ahead of the competition by differentiating your businesses.

Enhanced in-store customer experience with digital transformation of Retail Systems

SINSA enhances in-store customer experience with digital transformation of Retail Systems

Brief

SkillNet partners with SINSA in the digital transformation of core retail systems (including POS, Merchandising & Store Inventory) to improve customer satisfaction and increase efficiencies in operations.

About the client

Founded in 1990, SINSA is the largest home improvement retailer in Nicaragua. It has four business units, with retail comprising 75% of the company’s sales, followed by project and engineering services, wholesale and car battery distribution.

SINSA operates 24 stores and wholesale outlets offering 65,000+ SKUs in 15 categories of home improvement products (hardware, tiles, electric components among others) and services for the remodeling, construction, decoration and electrical industries.

Challenges

SINSA is one of the fastest-growing home improvement retailers in Central America. Its mission is to offer an integrated solution to all customers in construction, renovation, and decoration projects. Within its stores, customers could negotiate prices, and associates can offer discounts within certain ranges. Additionally, customers could pick up their purchases from a store or distribution center, create quotations and process them at a later date.

Apart from constantly looking at improving operations, the SINSA team wanted to ensure their retail platforms could support the company growth. They also wanted to be more agile and better support customer needs with process digitization. Given the focus on enhancing customer experience, they also felt that it was important for store associates to have access to updated inventory information.

Since SINSA’s homegrown retail system could not keep pace with the company’s growth or requirements, the team felt the need for an integrated retail system (including POS, Merchandising & Store Inventory) that met international standards while supporting their requirements.

Solutions

After selecting Oracle products for the digital transformation, SkillNet was chosen for the implementation of Oracle Xstore POS, Oracle Retail Customer Engagement, Oracle Retail Merchandising Systems and Oracle Fusion Financials. SkillNet’s in-depth knowledge of the retail industry, expertise in Oracle Retail, along with its LATAM capability and presence made it an obvious choice to support SINSA’s ambitious digital initiative.

SkillNet ’s consulting expertise helped define and design new processes across the organization. One of the key areas of transformation was in the redesign of pre-sale and post-sale processes for customer engagements. Other processes such as Equipment Rentals, Quotations, Distribution Center Pick Up and Returns, selling of defectives items at discounts and loyalty programs (Gift Cards and Gift Registry) were also part of the digital transformation.

Oracle Retail Xstore POS was introduced successfully across SINSA’s retail stores including the largest locations with over 50 registers per store.

Results

SkillNet has been instrumental in helping SINSA achieve its digital transformation goals with increased efficiencies in operations and improved customer satisfaction.

With the new systems, store associates can access inventory systems on their computers or from their mobile phones. The retail focused CRM, Oracle Retail Customer Engagement, provides store associates with a detailed view of customer transactions in real time.

Due to greater level of details at item levels, the efficiency of replenishment in warehousing has increased. This ensures increased availability of popular items.

The new systems also allow customers to add items to their basket from different parts of the store and pay at the exit. The new POS system has enabled SINSA to improve processing time resulting in 33 percent reduction in customer wait time. All of this has contributed to richer in-store experiences resulting in increased customer satisfaction.

We are delivering on our vision to become more agile and satisfy our customer’s needs through a digital transformation process that starts by analyzing our processes, making adjustments and adopting a modern platform that can help us reduce risks and bring scalability to our business units as we continue to grow. Roger Vargas, Continuous Improvement Manager at SINSA

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.

Retail Spending is up 24%, if you are not seeing a bump you may have a long-term customer problem

This is the first of a series of 4-blogs (Read Blog 2, Blog 3, Blog 4) from SkillNet on how Modern Commerce Leaders have used technology to digitally transform their retail businesses to adapt to the New Normal. This ability to adapt, gives these brands a competitive advantage. While the blogs are connected each of them can be read independently.

Up through the Fall of 2020, the economy looked like it was approaching a “New Normal” of economic activity. However, pessimism based on poor holiday sales and political unrest has countered the optimism coming from new stimulus spending and vaccines. Uncertainty continues to be the defining term for 2021. In this blog, we will discuss where we are on the path to the New Normal, and how retailers can support customers changes in behavior.

First question we all have is “Has the bleeding stopped?” According to TrackRecovery.org, consumer spending in week ending January 17, 2021, was up 6.5% over same time period in 2020. Driven by $600 stimulus checks, retail spending was up 25%. Consumers have dramatically shifted spending from Entertainment, Travel, and Restaurants to Essential Retail and eCommerce.

Consumer Spending up 6%; retail spending up 24.5%

Source: TrackRecovery.org

Given this situation, if your business is not seeing a rebound in Sales, you may have a problem, in that your customer may have made a long-term behavioral change. These changes can be as simple as your customer still buying your product but just not coming into the store (reducing add-on sales), to your customer finding more convenient options from your competitors. Kroger reported in their 2020 Q2 earnings call that they estimate 50% of their new digital customers are coming from their competitors.

With this consumer behavioral change, not only does a business have to worry about  competitors, but also whether they have lost the traditional add-on opportunities in the urgency of making the shopping experience safer. When adding functionality online, retailers may have neglected to identify opportunities to replace the incremental sales normally associated with in store traffic. Traditional merchandising and pricing techniques, which offers add-on sales opportunities, just may not work if the customer is not walking your aisles, end caps, shelves, tables, four ways, or seeing your accompanying promotional signage.

I was recently on a call with a Midwest Essentials Retail client, and one of the initiatives they have undertaken to address this uncertainty, is to partner with SkillNet to improve customers mobile shopping experience and to offer additional customer engagement functionality that not only mimics in-store experience, but in many circumstances enhances on it. This functionality includes additional fulfillment options, appointment scheduling, loyalty program, inventory availability, personalized marketing and an enhanced consumer shopping experience.  

What will help retailers regain lost sales is identify what has changed in their customer’s journey. One of the ways to identify this is through financial modeling by analyzing traffic and average order values, by channel, pre-2020 and post-2021. Using technology to bridge the gap and to enhance customer experience will go a long way in deepening customer engagements and help getting the dollars back while enabling growth.

Watch the Webinar on customer engagement – Real Engagement is the new normal

Martin Dempsey shares his experience of working with SkillNet

Custom mobile check-in app helps James Avery keep customers safe

“SkillNet designed and implemented a bespoke mobile check-in application for James Avery that allows stores to better manage customer queues. This application allows customers and store personnel to maintain social distancing practices and adhere to COVID-19 regulations.”

James Avery Artisan Jewelry is a vertically integrated, family owned company located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. They are a multi-channel retailer with 94 James Avery stores in four states. Their jewelry is also available in more than 215 Dillard’s stores in Texas and in 28 additional states; and nationwide through JamesAvery.com. Their jewelry is crafted in Texas workshops in Comfort, Hondo and Kerrville with the finest materials sourced worldwide.

On March 18th, James Avery Artisan Jewelry temporarily shut their retail stores to help slow the spread of COVID-19.  Select stores reopened on May 22, in accordance with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recommended health protocols.

“We’ve missed our customers over the past eight weeks and we’re ready to begin calling some of our retail associates back to work after extensive furloughs in March,” James Avery CEO John McCullough said in a media release. “We’ve heard from our customers that they are ready to come back to our stores and we want them to know their shopping experience will be different as we continue to monitor safety protocols and adapt to the current situation.”

Each store is strictly following state guidelines as well as any additional local or county requirements for reopening in the community.

Care, concern and safety of associates and guests is a cornerstone of our business and we remain diligent as we work to reopen our retail stores,” McCullough said.

With the reopening of the stores, James Avery needed an easy to use yet enterprise ready mobile application to help them manage and maintain social distancing in their stores per state regulations regarding occupancy limits.

Their initial solution to address the issue, was to simply break out scraps of paper and give out numbers like in a deli. Of course, this experience was far from ideal as it wasn’t in alignment with their corporate culture and brand. James Avery prides themselves on the customer experience they offer and a hastily scribbled number on a scrap of paper just didn’t make sense. There had to be a better way to manage the customer queue to ensure that everyone in the store felt safe and not bunched up next to one another.

SkillNet’s approach to developing a bespoke mobile check-in application started with multiple functional design workshops. The result of these collaborative workshops was a series of Agile user stories that defined the benefits of the mobile check-in application. Then, the SkillNet team designed an enterprise architecture that securely integrated all the data points required by the user stories. The backend was built using Spring Boot in a Docker container.

As James Avery rolls out their bespoke mobile check-in application, store associates and managers are finding it very easy to use with little to no training. The application is helping stores to manage and maintain their customer queues during busy times keeping customer, and themselves, feeling safe as they shop for artisan jewelry from James Avery.

By keeping the development process open and transparent to James Avery, SkillNet was able to produce an application that exceeded initial expectations. Using Agile methodologies kept all stakeholders in the loop at all times and made sure that the solution not just met current requirements, but as an enterprise class application on a modern architecture, it is ready to adjust quickly and easily as new requirements arise.

Check out our CX and Design services  

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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.

Check out or StoreHub services

Check out our Oracle Solutions services

All trademarks and IPs on the website are the properties of their respective owners.

Luxottica improves technology deployment by reducing testing cycles from 48 hours to less than 2 hours

SkillNet enables Luxottica to speed up technology deployment cycles through automation and the adoption of DevOps processes.

With a strong portfolio of retail brands and 9200 stores, Luxottica is well positioned to serve every segment of the North American market with a variety of differentiated products & services, including the latest designer and high-performance frames, innovative lens options, advanced eye care, everyday value and high-quality vision care health benefits.

Luxottica aims at expanding its market through stronger retail distribution while consolidating its wholesale network and further growing its presence in e-commerce, department stores and travel retail.

As a brand leader, Luxottica has been taking initiatives to build agility in its online and offline technology and operations to continuously deliver improved customer experiences. As part of this initiative, Luxottica partnered with SkillNet to increase the speed of change in technology that is currently deployed in North America stores.

Retail applications like Point of Sale are traditionally viewed as less agile than their online counterparts, for good reasons. These applications are often complicated with dozens of intricate touch points with in-store hardware and software systems. They must work flawlessly for thousands of store employees over millions of purchase transactions. Glitches in Point of Sale can disrupt customer experience and hurt brand image. Therefore, retailers extensively test these systems before deploying to stores, and are wary of introducing frequent changes.  This poses a big challenge when shopping experiences are constantly evolving under the effect of demographic shifts and technology advances. This year COVID-19 has pushed the envelope further.

Luxottica’s technology team together with SkillNet is overcoming this challenge by applying agile DevOps techniques. First step was automation of the testing process involved in Point of Sale deployment. For this, SkillNet leveraged its expertise in developing test automation for Oracle XStore POS using xUnit, an opensource toolkit. This automation has reduced the testing cycle time from 48 hours to less than 2 hours, accelerating the deployment of technology changes to drive richer in-store customer experiences.

Next, Luxottica is working with SkillNet in automating the Point of Sale deployment process, which will complete the continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline. The success of this program has encouraged Luxottica to look at other systems in their global operations that can now be automated.

Check out our Commerce accelerators – commerce DevOps services

Check out our Oracle Solutions services

All trademarks and IPs on the website are the properties of their respective owners.

Gross margin increase for cosmetic brand

Global cosmetics retailer increases growth margins with seamless POS unification across 50+ countries

Brief

Multi-brand cosmetics retailer accelerates digital transformation by unifying multiple POS systems to a single upgraded solution.

About the client

The client is a global leader in prestige beauty – delighting consumers with transformative products and experiences, inspiring them to express their individual beauty. With a diverse portfolio of 25+ brands, they are the only company who focus solely on prestige makeup, skin care, fragrance and hair care. They operate over 1500 freestanding stores and 1,700+ E/M commerce sites in 50+ countries.

Challenge

Most of the client’s 25+ global brands had become a part of the client’s portfolio through various acquisitions. This meant that most of the brands provided independent in-store experiences with different underlying CRM and POS systems. The diverse in-store systems meant high maintenance costs, complex license management and vendor agreements. Small changes to the system required complex planning to cascade through the overall landscape.

The client also found it difficult to rollout promotions or omnichannel capabilities globally. The systems also hampered the client’s ability to introduce critical initiatives such as BOPIS (Buy Online-Pickup-In-Store) and BORIS (Buy-Online-Return-In-Store). All of this could impact the client’s charter to delight consumers with transformative experiences.

Solution | Ensuring continued seamless omnichannel experience

The solution was to migrate different brands, retail stores in various countries and disparate content to a consolidated in-store experience underpinned by a single POS solution (Oracle Xstore POS and Oracle Retail Customer Engagement) with minimal disruption.

SkillNet started the engagement by harmonizing the global code base. The harmonization was intended to create a baseline system for all the brands and geographies while maintaining those components that had reuse value. SkillNet’s multidisciplinary agile teams and DevOps engineering helped automate and accelerate different stages of the project. The SkillNet solution also addressed the regulatory and fiscal requirements required by various countries. As a result, customizations across geographies were reduced and the delivery cycles shortened across brand silos.

During country wise implementations, a flexible design was created for extensions and services. This enabled reuse across different geographies. The global code base provided multiple layers of functionality which were applicable across regions, specific geographies, store formats and brands. The core functionality for omnichannel capability is being delivered globally. The solution also enabled BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup In-Store), BORIS (Buy Online Return In Store) and OOFIS (Order Online From In Store) features. These have been introduced at country and brand level with minimal disruptions.

The roll out has been completed successfully for a majority of countries across Asia, Europe and North America.

Results | Digital Transformation supports growth margins

Since its introduction, the client has reported robust growth in sales and growth margins due to the seamless omnichannel experience.

The unified POS solution allows the store associates to spend more time with customers on sales floor and this provides them with opportunities to cross sell and upsell products. Since the solution is being driven by services and base configurations, it has also increased customer engagement time and enabled cost savings.

The single global code base solution has also helped streamline vendor licensing, software upgrades, maintenance costs and provide system support from one single location. Faster release cycles have also helped accelerate the client’s digital initiatives.

SkillNet received the “Best Drive in Innovation and Process Transformation” award for its contribution in the client’s digital transformation.

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.

Premium eyewear maker doubles the speed of change deployment

Brief

SkillNet enables the client to double the speed of technology deployment cycle through automation and the adoption of DevOps processes.

About the client

The client is a leader in the design, manufacture, and distribution of fashion, luxury, and sports eyewear. The Group’s global wholesale distribution network covers more than 150 countries across five continents and is complemented by an extensive retail network of approximately 9,200 stores mostly located in North America, Latin America, and the Asia Pacific. They also have a strong online presence.

Challenge

As a brand leader, the client values customer experience highly. Their drivers for change are “need for higher customer responsiveness” as well as higher “business agility”. Both these require quick deployment of changes to technology.

The client’s team handles multiple new releases every year. With a complex landscape of products and solutions, the deployment process was laborious for even small updates and enhancements. Technology release cycles were weighed down by a prolonged release process that was manual, prone to rework, and involving physical upgrade of store POS systems. This operational inefficiency resulted in increased costs and lower business agility.

Solution | Improving efficiencies in POS solution management with DevOps and Agile

The SkillNet team assessed the end-to-end deployment process. Drawing on the team’s deep retail systems expertise, SkillNet recommended a revised efficient approach by adapting DevOps and agile for POS solution management in a phased manner.

The first phase was the automation of the quality control process for build testing. SkillNet created automated test scripts to perform the regression of point of sale application. The automation changes which were introduced were independent of the changes being made on the POS application. This not only gave the client team more control but they were able to consider newer technology adaptations for expanded functionality.

Benefits | Improving customer responsiveness and business agility

With automation and adoption of DevOps processes, the client has been able to

  • Add functionality to the POS systems to ensure quick response to customer demands without dependency on external partners. This was not only more efficient but also reduced costs
  • Two-fold increase in the speed of deployment (from 10 days per release to 5 days) by automating test scripts
  • Decrease in costs due to the reduced rework

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

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.