Written by Brian Minnix, VP and General Manager – North America, attune

Doing Omni-channel Fashion with old technology; like fitting square pegs to a round hole?

As the adage goes: you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole. In today’s landscape of exponentially increasing digital sophistication, it can perhaps be of some small comfort to business and process managers working in the vibrant and dynamic world of fashion to know that they can still rely on old adages.

An example of this time-tested wisdom is aptly illustrated through the struggle that many established brands face in seeking to build functional yet novel omni-channel consumer experiences while still operating out of siloed systems, infrastructure, strategies and thinking that were part of the pre-omnichannel era.

A call to re-evaluate existing models and systems


Coupled with seismic shifts in demographic consumer trends as well as the expectations and preferences as evidenced by the rise in new types of consumer behaviour – such as the practices of webrooming and showrooming – that are in many ways a direct offshoot of the rise of omni-channel retailing, the case for comprehensive re-evaluation of existing business models and a complete migration to new systems and strategies only grows stronger.

Unlike the increasing sophistication of consumer expectations however, the challenges in shifting towards a fully integrated omni-channel offering remain – broadly speaking – relatively static. Most companies report difficulties with the integration of back-office technology across retail, wholesale and online channels. As a result, such fashion retailers are still locked in a struggle to gain a consolidated, accurate and real-time view of their inventory and consumer demand. The logistical implications of any changes to these two key metrics is crucial to planning where your inventory should be, at what time and in which channel. 

Revitalizing the core

These challenges in turn stem from the fact that while many companies have channelled extensive resources to create the impression of a deep and immersive omni-channel retail experience for their consumers, under the hood, they still adopt an incremental approach to the technology and back-end processes to support such an experience.

Consequently, they resort to gradual tweaking of existing systems, adopting work-arounds to complex problems within their existing IT infrastructure and executing piecemeal integrations between separate business verticals.

While such approaches do of course provide limited results, it is quickly becoming clear that radical re-thinking of existing systems and processes is critical to emulating and surpassing the omni-channel success of brands like Brooks Brothers and Rockport Shoes.

Technology made for the omni-channel world

Having worked extensively on the front lines of this ongoing revolution in fashion retail, attune together with SAP have channelled significant expertise and resources into the creation of a fully-integrated technology solution capable of not just blurring the lines between disparate sales channels but effectively eliminating them altogether, thereby facilitating the formation of new, organic approaches to omni-channel retailing.

The culmination of our efforts has been the integration of two of SAP’s most powerful new systems – SAP Fashion Management and SAP Hybris e-commerce platform – providing a single, future proof, digital core for fashion.

Brands that work on SAP Fashion Management and Hybris will gain a singular view of their customers, inventory and products that will empower them to retrieve stock levels in real-time for a more flexible use of inventory across channels.  Meanwhile, consolidated consumer data will provide brands with the contextual, personalized insights they require to design heightened levels of customer-centric engagements based on powerful insights into consumer preferences, interactions and predictive analytics – all from the use of a single business tool.

The result is a system that will enable brands to buy, return and fulfil demand for their products from anywhere through the flexible leveraging of inventory via both retail stores and distribution centers. This enables customers to purchase products online or in-store and pick up or return products to stores with ease.

Ultimately the combination of SAP Fashion Management and SAP Hybris represents the culmination of many decades of development in Enterprise Technology for Fashion operations. Backed by the powerful functionality of next generation SAP systems, the true test for fashion brands and retailers can be summed up in a single question: Where do we go from here?

Interested in learning more about SAP Fashion Management and SAP Hybris? Download our guide below to see how you can turn your stores into online fulfillment centres.