Fashion retailer Jaeger, which went into administration earlier this week, was midway through a digital transformation program intended to make the retailer leaner, more competitive and more response to customers.
The collapse of the troubled retailer had followed failed attempts by the company's owners, private equity outfit Better Capital, which acquired the business for £19.5m in 2012, to sell the organisation as a going concern for around £30m.
It bills itself as a specialist in company turnarounds, but instead Better Capital is understood to have sold the company's debts to Philip Day, the retail billionaire behind the Edinburgh Wool Mill chain.
CIO Cathy McCabe had been leading a digital transformation at the company as it bid to catch-up with rivals.
Popular in the 1960s, by the 2000s it had acquired a reputation for frumpy and expensive clothing. McCabe's brief was to transform the IT infrastructure at the same time as the company sought to update its products, stores and brand.
"It's not just about the point-of-sale in-store, it's also about looking at our technology roadmap overall. So, we were looking at what we need to do from a customer perspective in terms of strategy and our vision in order to transform the consumer experience," McCabe told Computing in 2015.
Many of the organisation's systems had grown old and clunky as the organisation struggled to adapt to the changing climate, and a lack of integration between them made it difficult for both staff and customers to perform straightforward activities.
"If you were looking up a person who was part of our loyalty programme, you had to go into one part of the screen, then they may want to buy something online and you'd have to go into another part and place the order," said McCabe.
McCabe's digital transformation also meant supporting an online drive, after a decade in which the company's store count had dropped from 250 in 2003 to just over 40 today. Online was also intended to support international expansion.
McCabe's plan involved starting with the customer, improving all systems connected to customer relationships and the shop floor, and working back
Top of the list, McCabe told Computing, was a standardisation of long-ingrained business processes in order to make the implementation of new software quicker, easier and cheaper.
Implementing new enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) was also on the cards for McCabe, with Jaeger implementing three software packages from Omnico - a retail systems vendor coincidentally owned by Better Capital.
These included Omni Engagement, which will effectively form the basis of a new customer relationship management (CRM) system; Omni Basket, which will support a mobile point-of-sale system in-store; and Omni Stock, for tighter and more effective control of stock management.
McCabe envisaged that the new systems would enable sales staff to look up customer accounts, and check the distribution warehouse and other branches for stock in front of the customer, instead of scurrying into the shop's own back office to check out such details on a standalone PC - a practice that continued right up until the end of 2015, such was the parlous state of the organisation's IT systems.
Read the full CIO profile here: Jaeger plans front-to-back IT revolution to make retailer fashionable again
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