Oracle OpenWorld 2014: Toms expands global e-commerce

Footwear retailer Toms relaunches e-commerce websites with Oracle platform to grow and improve customer experience

Footwear retailer Toms relaunched its e-commerce websites using Oracle’s commerce platform to expand globally and improve customer experience.

The retailer has worked with the supplier for the last 18 months to relaunch six sites in US, Canada and Europe, and plans to use the scalable system to continue expanding globally.

Speaking at a breakout session at Oracle’s user conference in San Francisco this week, global vice-president Hilda Fontana described how the company started in 2006 with a little desktop computer in the back of a room running a small website.

In 2009 the company launched an e-commerce platform with Magento, and created sites in the US and UK. But Toms quickly outgrew the supplier and needed to look for another.

“There was no way with the old platform that we’d get through another holiday in the US, Canada and UK, never mind other countries,” said Fontana.

Using templates to expand

Toms decided on Oracle Commerce, and chose the Netherlands as its first new country to create a pilot. It took the internal IT team of 20 people 5-6 months working with Deloitte to get the site up and running but, once the Netherlands went live, Toms used the template to create sites for France and Germany, while maintaining the Netherlands site, on their own.

This year the company migrated the UK, US and Canada sites over to the new platform, and it now has six countries in four languages and three currencies. It ships to other countries around the world which currently use the .com site, but Fontana says Australia, Latin America and further European countries will hopefully be rolled out in 2015.  

Fontana explained that the relaunch was integral to the success of Tom’s "One for One" campaign, which gives children in 72 third world countries a pair of Toms shoes every time a customer buys a pair.

Charity campaigns

“It was started by our founder Blake Mycoskie, while on holiday in Argentina he saw kids running around without shoes on. In many countries, if kids don’t have shoes they can’t go to school,” she says.

Over the last year, the campaign has expanded alongside the business and it now runs its "One for One" initiative for eyewear, where it provides eyecare for children in developing countries for every pair of frames sold; and coffee, where it provides fresh water to people in developing countries for bags of coffee bought through Toms.

The platform allows Toms to innovate, such as with its subscription payment models for the Toms Roasting Company, as well as integrated messaging throughout the site.

Toms found the merchandise and marketing teams can configure the site, such as the carousel or videos, without asking Fontana’s IT team.

The ability to use the commerce templates and quickly create websites has been integral to the business growth of Toms. For instance, the retailer has a dedicated marketplace site for like-minded companies and entrepreneurs who want to spread their charitable message, as well as a community portal for do-gooders who want to get their peers involved.

The way forward

The next big site launch is Toms’ first "Surprise Sale" which will launch next week and only took three weeks to build.

“Oracle allows multi-site, first it was about multi-country and multi-language, but actually one of our biggest sites for next week is the Toms ‘Surprise Sale’,” says Fontana.

This multi-site functionality gives Toms more control over its inventory management. “Before, we’d have odd sizes left or certain styles, the only thing we could do was a Toms warehouse sale.”

“With templates we can turn on like this,” she says, demonstrating by clicking her fingers, “we have right now endless opportunities.”

Fontanas says the next challenge facing Toms is integrating its loyalty programme and moving towards an endless aisle solutions to support its physical stores.

The company has two stores in the US, with two more opening next year and a handful of stores around the world, including the Netherlands.

“With the retail footprint taking off, with that comes retail integration, which we’re tying down next year,” said Fontana.

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Good
job, Toms! I am not so fond of shoes, but many of my family members do, and a number
of them do support the company’s worthwhile cause. Anyway, as for the partnership,
it’s something that every company should emulate, whether they’re working with
Oracle or other platform companies. You plan it, and you do the planning well.
As you can read, it took them months and in stages to determine the viability
of the Oracle platform in their business model, which, although it isn’t
stated, had definitely allowed them to spot issues and correct them before they
continue on a much larger scale.

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