Global fashion pureplay retailer, boohoo group, has improved operational efficiency and speed to market, by revamping its product experience management (PXM) and product information management (PIM) systems, creating a ‘single source of truth’ across all its businesses.
The boohoo retail group has expanded rapidly in the past two years and now boasts a portfolio of 13 fashion brands – from its own-brands including boohoo, boohooMAN and Pretty Little Thing, to its recently acquired British heritage brands, BURTON menswear, DP.com (Dorothy Perkins) and Wallis. As well as this doubling in the number of brands that are now part of the retail group, boohoo has also extended into new categories, including beauty and homeware, through the relaunch of Debenhams, a marketplace selling more thirdy-party multi-brands through its online platforms.
However, with this success comes complexity and with the rapidly growing number of SKUs it offers its customers, its legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) system couldn’t keep up, meaning boohoo’s teams had limited control over product data, very little data governance and no single source of truth when it came to product information.
This was not only impacting the business operationally – with each new product taking 15-20 minutes to create on the old system and often causing duplicated efforts, with manual checking and correcting of the data needed at each stage of the product lifecycle – it was also negatively impacting customer experience (CX) on-site.
Missing or incorrect product information was making products harder to find for shoppers on the site, as they couldn’t be tagged or filtered during on-site search, but it also meant that boohoo’s team weren’t getting the data feedback loop needed to adapt to evolving shopper trends and changing buying behaviours to optimise online experiences.
Having seen success implementing Akeneo Community Edition Product Information Management (PIM) solution at Pretty Little Thing, the group chose to roll-out the tech company’s PIM across the group, as boohoo sought to drive its strategy of creating one platform that its brands could plug into, across technology, systems and processes.
Akeneo’s solution unified boohoo’s teams – from buying to visual merchandising to ecommerce, operations, finance and analytics – so everyone had access to a standard set of product information tools and a common set of systems to enrich product data.
This hasn’t just benefited the business in terms of how the data is used downstream, but it has optimised user experience for boohoo’s customers on its websites, making products easier to find, improving SEO and site-search and speed. It has also improved efficiencies in the product lifecycle management, accelerating speed to market as the buying teams use Akeneo PIM to enrich product data at the point of order placement, speeding up product information processes and contributing to more consistent, accurate product data.
Will Clayton, Head of Innovation at boohoo, explains: “A big ethos of the business is ‘fast’ – fast in terms of spotting trends, developing new products and going to market. Using Akeneo PIM, we now have a single source of truth for all product data and that not only gives great speed, and more consistent and better-quality product information, but also affords us the flexibility across category and product type within our portfolio of brands. The other big benefit is scale; on a standard day, we can create 60,000 SKUs within Akeneo’s solution, but during peak periods, we’ve been able to scale this up to 300,000 in a single day.”
Steven Nolan, Technology Director at boohoo Group, adds: “[We invested in PIM because, before] everything was manual. We had nothing around mastering our products and were hamstrung by the manual processes that were in place. Akeneo was the best fit for our business and for the way that we wanted to adapt – it was the right fit, the right UX and the right feel for our business. The biggest [benefits of Akeneo] have been around speed and efficiency. [For example,] our buy teams, it would take them up to 10 minutes to raise a product and create a product in our old systems, whereas now that’s gone down to 30 seconds to be able to create a product, so [we’re seeing] huge efficiencies and huge savings for our business now.”
Fred de Gombert, CEO of Akeneo, says: “Speed and agility underpin any retail business, but no more so than in hyper-quick fast-fashion sector, where speed to market needs to not only be quick enough to meet consumers always changing demands and trends, but must also be efficient so margin is maximised. And that makes consistent, accurate and accessible information – across product types and across categories – critical in supporting the operational excellence needed to drive growth. We’re delighted to see boohoo evolve their operations and that they are seeing it deliver the pace and scale to meet their commerce growth objectives.”