Innovation Key to Brooks Brothers Future
Brooks Brothers is best known as traditional brick-and-mortar retail brand that sells classic men’s styles, including suits, shirts, neckties and more. Therefore, it might be surprising to some that the nearly 200-year-old retailer (it was founded in 1818) is leading the way for others by investing heavily in innovation and technology to spur its future growth.
In a panel discussion at the SAP Retail Forum in Miami Beach last week, Sahal Laher, Brooks Brothers’ executive vice president and chief information officer, outlined how the brand is betting on innovation to help it stay relevant and top of mind with consumers in a rapidly evolving retail environment.
“Innovation needs to be aligned with business goals, not just the latest shiny object,” Laher told the audience. To help in that quest, Brooks Brothers has staffed its innovation lab with a cross-functional team that considers how a new technology or product rollout will impact all aspects of the retailer’s business, from supply chain to marketing to customer service, and more.
Deciding which projects to work on comes down to how relevant the ideal outcome would be to Brooks Brothers’ business — e.g., will it generate more sales, reduce customer complaints, drive customer engagement, etc. Those decisions are made by a group of executives from across the organization.
“Obviously, not all ideas are going to work,” Laher said. “The key is to fail fast and move on to the next.”
Follow the Leader
Brooks Brothers, like many other omnichannel retail brands, acknowledges that Amazon.com sets the tone for what consumers expect when it comes to a convenient online shopping experience, from its vast product assortment to its seamless checkout to its expedited delivery. Laher spoke specifically to order fulfillment.
“Brands must follow its [Amazon’s] lead and set a higher bar when it comes to fulfillment,” said Laher. “The supply chain sometimes gets overlooked with all of the customer-facing technologies that are out there, but it’s critical. A great experience upfront is forgotten if the delivery is botched.”
Brooks Brothers is working with SAP to help it break down the barriers in its supply chain, including giving it a real-time view into its inventory.
Store of the Future
When asked by the panel’s moderator — Matt Laukaitis, senior vice president and general manager, SAP Retail North America — about a prediction for the retail industry, Laher focused on what he called the “retail store of the future.” He believes that brick-and-mortar stores will occupy a smaller footprint and feature less product. They will essentially be showrooms, with consumers ultimately making their purchases online.
Therefore, an optimized supply chain to get products to customers quicker — i.e., same day or next day — will be critical, Laher said.
Brooks Brothers is investing in technology and a culture of innovation to ensure it’s around for another 200 years.
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