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Now in its seventieth year, fashion retailer Gant operates in several countries, offering its “iconic” shirts across the globe.
Known originally as a shirt maker, the retailer’s global IT manager, Ricky Dematagollage, says the brand wants to focus on what it does right, rather than focus too much on “other things”.
“We try to emphasis what we are really good at, and we’re really good at shirts,” he says.
Much as shirts are fundamental to the brand, Gant is looking to ensure all of its operations are consistent across the countries it operates in to get the essentials right.
The firm has a large number of technology partners for business functions, and Dematagollage says its approach to working with partners is changing as it’s bringing a number of its partners in house.
“We’re going to be working closely with Cegid, because one of my jobs is to ensure we have the same processes and core modelling around countries that we manage,” he says. “This means having the same retail systems and same recording systems in all markets.”
The reasoning behind this shift is to allow the firm to do global reporting, which can be “tricky” if the data comes from several different systems.
Being an international retail business comes with some complexities for Gant. For example, it operates in Turkey through franchise partners that buy products from Gant to sell in stores.
In Portugal, regulations around taxation often causes difficulties, which Gant manages with a local team that is more used to what firms need in that region.
Global reach is one of the reasons Gant chose Cegid for its point of sale (POS) system in the first place. Across the eight countries it operates in, all are using some form of Cegid POS – whether that’s its older software, CBR, or its most recent, Y2.
The brand also works with a number of other technology partners, such as Salesforce for its customer relationship management (CRM), SAP for its financial platform, and Clicksend for its data warehousing, alongside other software partners for warehouse management, footfall and customer traffic.
For several parts of the brand’s functionality, Dematagollage says the retailer has to “work around” Cegid systems, such as the capability to buy products online and return them to a store if they are no longer needed.
This is also true of some of its functionalities such as endless aisle, where store assistants can place an order for stock unavailable in a store to be sent to a customer’s house, as well as click and reserve for products online.
The plan is to upgrade all of its Cegid systems to Y2 and use this as the basis for simplifying some of its operations. This achieves a more “omni-commerce” functionality across its business whereby the retailer can have a single view of its customers, and adapt its customer experience to reflect as such.
Though Dematagollage believes omni-commerce is a “buzzword”, he says services such as endless aisle, loyalty programmes and convenient delivery options – all things the brand is working on – are expected by customers.
But “having the functionality” is something completely different to having a good user journey for those in and outside of the business, he adds.
“We’ve already introduced some of those things, but they’re getting a bit complicated because we have a lot of equipment in stores, such as iPads. What we want to do is use the Cegid Y2 system as the focal point, and then try to see if we can reduce and simplify some of those things,” he says.
Ricky Dematagollage, Gant
“We want to make sure that it doesn’t matter where the customer is, whether that’s in store, online or in other countries. We want to make sure that we have one face to the customer.”
As for the future of Gant’s retail offering, the firm has been working on introducing experiential store concepts over the past year – starting with its largest store in Regent’s Street, London.
The brand is now trialling fulfilment from its stores using a web platform that checks the availability of stock and advises whether it’s better to send a product from the warehouse or from a local store.
“The warehouse in the UK is in Hemel Hempstead, but if someone from Glasgow orders something online and we have it in the Glasgow shop, we want to ship from the Glasgow shop,” says Dematagollage.
Getting this right could open up the possibility of other services such as one-hour delivery, but Dematagollage says this requires a single view of wholesale and retail operations – something the brand has in the UK, but not necessarily in all regions.
In some of the countries it operates in, Gant’s e-commerce platform has dedicated stock, limiting what can be seen through each channel despite the goods being in the same warehouse.
These trials are the start of offering a better customer experience that meets modern consumer demands, built on the back of more simplified internal processes.
“It’s having the right product at the right time in the right place,” adds Dematagollage.