Fossil Business Challenge
Imagine you’re about to head to a birthday party, and you suddenly realize you forgot to buy a gift. When time is of the essence, the ability to find the perfect item on your smartphone and collect it from a physical store en route could save the day.
For retailers like Fossil, giving customers this kind of seamless experience can make the difference between significant sales and missed opportunities. However, to make it work in practice, the company must have complete control over complex inventory management processes behind the scenes.
Kim Glasscock, IT Solution Manager – Retail at Fossil Group, Inc., explains: “Retail is going through major changes, and much of that change is the result of rising consumer expectations. Increasingly, our customers want to move between channels as they browse, buy, return and exchange items. They also expect to receive their orders in a way that’s convenient for them: whether via a home delivery or a collection from their local store.”
Kent Heimes, Retail Solution Architect at Fossil Group, Inc., continues: “Our customers might not see a difference between buying a product from our e-commerce site and buying that same product from one of our stores, but in the past we used separate systems to manage those processes.”
Although Fossil assigned its stock-keeping units [SKUs] to multiple channels, it lacked omni-channel insights. As a result, the company was unable to identify overall product demand across all its touchpoints, or to use available inventory from one channel to fulfill orders on another where stock was running low. As a result, the company knew that in some cases its customers were unable the buy the products they wanted. To capture incremental sales and nurture the loyalty of its customers, Fossil targeted a unified approach to order management and fulfillment across its global business.
“We launched a new digital strategy, and enhancing the customer experience is one of our key objectives,” says Glasscock. “The easier we can make it for customers to engage with us, the more likely we are to nurture their loyalty and attract incremental sales. To achieve our goals, we knew we needed to break down the walls between our channels and move toward shared pools of inventory.”
Fossil selected IBM Order Management—a centralized, omni-channel inventory management and order fulfillment hub that enables businesses to make better decisions about how to connect customers with the products they want.
“Of all the solutions that we evaluated, we felt that IBM Order Management most effectively delivered the capabilities we were looking for—particularly around inventory visibility,” recalls Heimes. “Some of our team had already worked with the IBM solution during roles at other organizations, and their positive experiences gave us the confidence that it would help us realize our objectives. Better still, we knew that the solution would integrate seamlessly with our e-commerce engine, as it is also based on IBM technology.”
Working together with an expert team from IBM, Fossil configured IBM Order Management to support its North America and Europe businesses, and integrated the platform with its IBM WebSphere® Commerce e-commerce engine, warehouse management system and ERP applications.
“Working together with the IBM team was a great experience,” comments Glasscock. “As a business with a lean IT team, we were clear from the outset that we wanted an experienced partner to support us. IBM took a genuine interest in our business, and worked side-by-side with stakeholders from across the organization to help us determine the optimal way to integrate IBM Order Management with existing workflows. The IBM team’s approach to change management was polished and professional, and their support helped us to accelerate our deployment process significantly.”
Fossil can now pass near-real-time inventory data from IBM Order Management into IBM WebSphere Commerce, and then present it to customers via its Adobe Experience Manager storefront. These changes empower shoppers to see which nearby stores are carrying their desired products, which helps Fossil capture incremental sales—especially important during crucial retail periods such as the holiday season.
Today, Fossil uses IBM Order Management to enable comprehensive shopping options for customers across North America, the UK and Europe, including ship from store, buy online pick up in store (BOPIS), buy online return in store (BORIS) and home delivery. Fossil is currently utilizing the full range of its IBM Order Management capabilities in North America, and is steadily rolling out the platform to its other business units worldwide.
“Considering the complexity of our inventory management processes, the IBM Order Management deployment is going incredibly smoothly,” says Glasscock. “When we recently spoke about our experiences with a group of industry peers, they couldn’t believe that we’d only experienced a handful of low-priority production stops in our entire order management system deployment.”
By making its vision for omni-channel fulfillment into a reality, Fossil can delight its customers with the kinds of high-quality shopping experiences that nurture long-term loyalty.
“Our ability to support BOPIS orders helps us keep our services in step with our customers’ fast-paced lives—and the results we’re seeing show it’s a big hit across the US,” says Glasscock. “We are confident that the flexibility of BOPIS orders is contributing to an increase in conversion for orders originating on the digital channel, and our European businesses are already asking us when we can deploy the capability in their countries.”
As it embraces integrated approaches to inventory management and order fulfillment, Fossil is building new skills across the business.
Glasscock comments: “In the past, our planning team was used to working in static, siloed systems—but today, they have a much wider array of inventory at their fingertips.”
Using IBM Order Management, Fossil’s planners can now reallocate stock in a dynamic way when inventory for an in-demand product is running low on one of its channels. For example, the company recently launched a new smartwatch, and its promotional activities on the e-commerce channel were far more effective than anticipated. By bringing together all the information in IBM Order Management, Fossil’s merchandizing, planning and e-commerce groups could identify the trend and collaborate to find a solution.
Fossil can now elastically scale its order processing capacity up and down, allowing it to achieve industry-leading fulfillment capabilities cost-effectively.
“Like many retailers, our year is dominated by seasonal peaks,” comments Heimes. “IBM is always on the ball when it comes to optimizing IBM Order Management based on predicted order volumes, which means we are always ready to scale up our capacity ahead of a key retail holiday.”
As it continues its global deployment of IBM Order Management, Fossil is already looking to the future.
“We are extremely interested in using artificial intelligence solutions such as IBM Watson to mine our operational data for hidden trends—particularly in our planning function,” says Glasscock. “Today it might take us several working days to notice that sales on a certain product or category are starting to pick up, but in the future, IBM Watson could help us surface that insight instantly, empowering our planners to make better-informed decisions more rapidly.”
She concludes: “Our customers increasingly want retail journeys that keep up with the pace of their lives—and omni-channel fulfillment behind the scenes plays a key role in delivering on those expectations. Thanks to IBM Order Management, we’re orchestrating our inventory more effectively than ever.”