SITUATION & BUSINESS CHALLENGE
A sports apparel retailer with brick and mortar locations popular across the globe operated an online storefront that served primarily North America. The retailer wanted to expand their online presence into other countries across APAC and EMEA markets, but their existing e-commerce storefront was built on a popular, but aged eCommerce platform, which would make it slow and expensive to enter new markets. Although their existing platform was stable, it would be difficult to expand beyond North America based on their current capabilities. It was also built as an on-premise solution that would be difficult to expand into the cloud. Although their current platform vendor was in the process of building out a new eCommerce cloud platform to replace their aging on-premise solution, that solution was not going to be ready for several years and the vendor wasn’t pushing new feature upgrades on their legacy platform in the meantime.
Stranded between an old system that was being phased out and a new system that wasn’t ready, the retailer needed to find a middle ground solution that would be a meaningful investment to modernize its digital experience to support the company’s digital future in the international marketplace. The challenge was motivated by two overarching goals:
- To build a foundation for a new international portfolio that would support opening e-commerce sites in Europe and Asia markets as part of a multi-year technology strategy.
- To do so while not impacting its primary revenue stream in North America.
The company had researched possible interim e-commerce solutions and had tentatively decided on Salesforce Commerce Cloud, but they lacked the knowledge and expertise in the technology to effectively lead the implementation. Having already earned a high level of trust with the client from past partnerships, the company called on AIM Consulting to lead the effort.
A principal consultant from AIM Consulting’s Digital Experience and Mobile practice with significant experience in program management and digital transformations led the retailer in the e-commerce platform selection process as well as the implementation and system integration of Commerce Cloud.
AIM Consulting guided the project through several phases:
Phase 1: Discovery and goal setting
The AIM consultant sat down with over a dozen stakeholders across North American, EMEA and APAC regions to set the roadmap, confirm business goals and challenges, and discuss ideas and timelines for moving forward with e-commerce capabilities in each of the new markets. Business leaders had their own e-commerce strategy preferences, but AIM’s mediation led the stakeholders to common ground.
Phase 2: Selection and resource planning
Working with senior leadership and stakeholders, AIM evaluated multiple viable e-commerce platform solutions based on the company’s business needs and goals and confirmed that the Salesforce Commerce Cloud platform (SFCC) was the best path forward. It was decided that the legacy platform would continue to service North American sites, while SFCC would be implemented to support new international markets to minimize disruption to existing revenue streams. Then, once the new platform had a chance to mature and prove itself, the North American sites could be considered for migration as well.
Following the decision to move to SFCC, AIM helped company leaders negotiate a contract with Salesforce as well as create and execute an RFP for an SFCC system integrator (SI) with the global market expertise to implement the solution across APAC and EMEA.
As AIM was involved at a pervasive level, they were also able to identify and provide additional staff in contract positions to fill gaps in dependent and adjacent programs across portfolio management, project management, business analysis, front-end and full-stack development, UX and interaction design, and commerce back-end system integration.
Phase 3: Implementation
Leveraging internal resources, AIM specialists, and an approved third-party SI, AIM managed the implementation phases to produce a production-ready storefront, which included delivery of a tailored customer experience, configuration of the SFCC storefront platform, the introduction of a middleware service layer, and integration with backend retail systems.
Agile, change management, and compliance
Throughout the engagement, AIM helped internal teams become more agile. AIM also introduced CI/CD and automation processes and tools, which increased efficiencies and alleviated burdensome manual labor from the internal development staff.
Change management was a critical component of the project, helping to ensure the right organizational changes and training are applied toward operational readiness. Helping the retailer transform its eCommerce platform included working with individual team members that were able to discover where and how they needed to evolve to achieve success.
In parallel to planning and implementation efforts, there were security, compliance, privacy and related requirements that were also reconciled. The solution included controls for how and where customer-sensitive data could be stored and the respective privacy measures in compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). There were also global commerce compliance requirements specific to APAC and EMEA, such as cross-border inventory and order processing, ensuring operability across multiple time zones, and adhering to complicated regulations for doing business globally.
Many major key decisions were made as part of the retailer’s digital transformation, and AIM was instrumental in helping the client work through each of them towards a successful outcome. AIM’s leadership helped the retailer turn a host of questions into a solid roadmap for opening new storefronts in international markets on modern, cloud-based e-commerce technology. By the end of the engagement, the retailer had working storefronts leveraging the Salesforce Commerce Cloud platform in compliance with APAC and EMEA standards, allowing AIM to hand off control of future storefronts to internal teams.