retailciooutlook

The Future of Operations, but NOW!

By Romain Liot, COO, Adore Me

Romain Liot, COO, Adore Me

Adore Me was established in 2012 and sells inclusive, affordable, fast-fashion intimates online. End of 2017, when Adore Me started the discussion on opening physical retail—many conversations and questions were on the word “omnichannel”. It’s a glorified word in today’s retail landscape referring to is the integration of all the channels a company offers for a consumer to engage with them.

As the COO of the company, I lead Adore Me’s team of 200 employees across the U.S. and Europe, focusing primarily on marketing and operations—so I knew that omnichannel would be my primary focus for the next year, with Adore Me opening its first physical retail stores. Prior to when I joined Adore Me in 2014, I spent seven years working as a management consultant for McKinsey and Company on projects in Europe and South-East Asia, and back then the question often asked was “How do we go offline to online?”. As the COO, I believe it’s an illusion to talk about omnichannel from a customer perspective if we don’t have it in place from an operational perspective.

For Adore Me, on top of being a fashion brand, we’re also very tech-savvy: half of our team is devoted to IT, and by injecting geeky tech-sensibility to the traditional fashion space, such as A/B testing lingerie models, we were expected to deliver a truly seamless experience across all platforms. Also, to us, the key to succeeding in retail is innovation and differentiation.

That said, we are first and foremost a lingerie brand and a startup with limited resources—thus, we have to focus on what we do best. In some cases, we develop all technology for a specific retail element in-house; one example of this is our order system. In other cases, we leverage solutions already on the market; examples include our data warehouse and procurement tool. And sometimes we mix the two options; an example of this is that we gradually upgrade our historic Magento CMS to perform more complex tasks.

In order to be able to give the customer a holistic view and smooth interface between shopping channels, our internal tech system had to talk to each other. If our marketing team identifies a sales opportunity in our physical retail store and need to be able to do changes in inventory through our distribution center overnight—how can they do that? We built “The Matrix”.

Since the brand’s inception in 2012, the Adore Me ecosystem has grown to consist of our e-commerce platforms (apps and desktop site), physical retail stores, and a distribution center (beginning of 2018 we took full control over our delivery & distribution by building and operating our own cutting-edge distribution center). We currently work with about 20 different retail technology solutions in our system. The critical element is the Matrix which works as a top layer across the ecosystem. It enables the systems to communicate with each other, but it also gathers all data into one single interface for our team.

We’re now expanding our Matrix to new territories within retail. Not only have we added a simple POS for which we only leverage the payment platform, but all data are directly connected to our Big Query through the Matrix. We’re also adding new sophisticated tools like RFID technology to identify what customers are trying on in the fitting room and how it relays to the customer profile online. Once in place, it will be able to suggest product recommendations in fitting rooms based on characteristics from similar profiles in our database.

Besides organization and efficiency, the Matrix also enables us to be full omnichannel facing our customers. If we can have a holistic view of every customer, connecting customer data from different points of sales, engagements, and more—the personalized and relevant journey we can produce for her will make her feel like a true VIP customer.

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