Orsay persuades with bright omnichannel
BY JÜRGEN BURGER
There is hardly any industry spinning faster than fashion. Collection chases collection as customer preferences change virtually monthly. Fashionable companies, especially those with young target groups, must thus offer new products practically every week to ensure consumers’ continued interest in the brand. Even for the most experienced, it remains a huge challenge for the sector’s makers. Fundamental structural changes in the fashion industry amplify this as they change competitive conditions from the ground up.
Increasing vertical integration as well as indispensable and crucial online sales show clearly on the industry’s annual accounts. The secret to success here is to exhibit good performance despite the continued structural and economic challenges – and to do so in all sales channels. Keeping an overview is a must. Those able to streamline processes in all sales channels unfazed by high volumes and high turnover rates have a clear competitive advantage – like Orsay, which positions itself for the future with the omnichannel software solution Online Media Net by software maker apollon.
Orsay is very well-known among the young target group. It stands for youthful, fashionable and affordable outfits, which allow women to express their femininity individually and choose from looks that underline their personal taste and style. It offers not only clothing but also accessories, perfumes and shoes. As an international and vertically organised German fashion company, Orsay dominates the entire chain, from design through manufacture to sales. A well-coordinated product mix from Europe and Asia results in a wide-ranging collection of stylish outfits that balance style, trend, quality, and price.
Founded in 1975, the company is based in Willstätt in Baden-Wuerttemberg, and currently operates more than 670 shops in 30 countries. They employ about 4,500 people with an average age of just 28. The young, trend-conscious Orsay employees with their passion for fashion contribute significantly to the company’s success. The most important part of the communication takes place inside the stores, because here the customer decides whether the fashion feels comfortable and offers immediate feedback to the staff. Also in the online store, feedback and evaluation of the collection as well as buying behaviour are essential. Orsay is out to set trends and not just to follow mainstream fashion.
“Orsay thinks and works in an omnichannel manner in a rapidly changing fashion world,” says Tina Florath, Chief Marketing Officer at Orsay. “Online Media Net (OMN) by apollon ensures that Orsay is not obliged to react to trends in this market but rather to act.” The company currently operates Europe-wide, and there are online shops in several languages, which are naturally available for mobile devices as well. Within the app, customers from Germany can browse the current offering, select their favourite items and shop with ease. A few months ago, Orsay, together with its partner apollon, the specialist for high-performance and effective omnichannel marketing, launched a project to standardise and largely automate processes for the provision and administration of product information. Media production manager Jens Köhler from Orsay said: “The central management of all media data, search for product information and automated exports – optimised for Orsay’s sales and marketing channels – were central requirements. Everything was to be delivered with an intuitive user interface, so that all authorised employees could access it via any workplace without any additional installations.”
The specific project brief from the fashion chain consisted of six objectives. These included the creation of a company-wide communication platform to improve and optimise the flow of information in the areas of product management, marketing and sales. Furthermore, the effort needed for storage and search of respective assets was to be reduced, while data redundancies were to be minimised to ensure data consistency in the future. Another goal of the project was to improve process flows and accurate mapping of internal workflows in order to guarantee data quality. Consistent management of images in various media channels such as the web shop, as well as ensuring flexibility for all upcoming requirements, were the last items on the agenda.
For the apollon specialists, such requirements are nothing unusual, since the use of innovative and intuitive software for future-proof omnichannel marketing is the core competency of the company from Pforzheim. Apollon project manager Manuel Kistner said: “Our OMN has been designed to meet these exact requirements: decreasing costs, accelerating processes and reducing sources of error.” Specific to this project was the fact that Orsay’s IT could integrate their own, custom-made tool for file import. The project was efficiently implemented in four phases.
Initially, the Online Media Net (OMN) solution was installed at the Orsay data centre and completely integrated into the IT infrastructure there. At the same time, Orsay’s IT specialists developed a software that allows photographers to ‘wire’ their photos and item numbers. In practical terms, the photographer scans a barcode with the item number before photographing each piece of clothing. The data of the barcode are written into the metadata of the photos. After uploading the pictures, these metadata are read out and transferred to OMN. From here on, OMN takes over the asset management. The metadata are used to locate the article in the database. The piece is then no longer just an item number but a garment in the category ‘Blouse’, the colour ‘yellow’ and the collection ‘Spring 2017’, for example. Naturally, the photos are displayed in the technically required image formats and screen resolutions. This means images are available for all eCommerce purposes. Jens Köhler, Media Production Manager at Orsay, said: “Thanks to their deep knowledge of media production and the fashion industry, the specialists at apollon have made a multi-month analysis and a multi-page task book obsolete. This saves time and money.” Hence, it is of no surprise that the next project phase is already targeted: an intelligent and semantic search, which enables a quick and efficient search for product information, will support Orsay employees in the future. Thus, it will be possible to display all blouses of the spring 2017 collection in yellow – even if the attribute ‘yellow’ is not maintained. The search accelerates the processes in the marketing department and elsewhere considerably.
Apollon GmbH & Co. KG offers integrated and holistic solutions in the areas of product data management, cross-media publishing, and omnichannel commerce.
This article was published in The Produktkulturmagazin, issue Q1 2017. Picture credit © Orsay