by Byron Connolly

CIO50 2016 #26-50: Joanne Stubbs, Bakers Delight

Nov 24, 2016
Technology Industry

Bakers Delight’s CIO Joanne Stubbs believes that if an IT chief doesn’t have the ability to collaborate and influence inside an organisation, they will simply not be hired.

“Whether the CIO believes this is important or not is not relevant,” she says. “It is the business that requires this as part of the CIO function and if a CIO cannot demonstrate skills in this area, then they simply should not be called a CIO.”

Stubbs has been with the multinational retailer since 2008. Just one of her unique challenges has been to find computing equipment that will last in a baking environment where there’s flour and water in the air for most of the day.

For this reason, the retail chain was very limited in the options it could use for its point-of-sale (POS) system for many years. But with the industrialisation of tablet technology, a much needed digital POS became a reality, says Stubbs.

Bakers Delight now uses proprietary POS units that do not have fans. They are so reliable and indestructible, “you could run a Hummer over them and they would still work,” she says.

Tablets and fan-less POSs are part of a technology transformation project, led by Stubbs, that has also involved the creation of a new centralised reporting system for bakeries to access via the Internet, the implementation of a global WAN, and the negotiation and implementation of integrated payments with payment providers.

Stubbs has also rolled out a change management program that manages the expectations of three different customer bases: the people that purchase products from its bakeries, its franchisees and its employees.

Stubbs and her team have now provided a stable and fit-for-purpose solution that allows bakeries to sell bread with little noise from hardware. Sales information from 705 bakeries in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States is fed back to a centralised server in Melbourne that then sends data to a dashboard that displays accurate sales information within 15 minutes of a sale taking place.

Retail innovation

Stubbs and her team have driven several innovations of the past 12 months; some related to the POS project and some individual initiatives.

Automated merchandising allows the POS system to determine at any point during the day what the highest cost of good products are still available for sale and starts to automatically rotate the advertising on the customer display screen for those targeted products.

Several bakeries were chosen to take part in a customer analytics trial where smart routers were placed in bakery counters or ceilings and configured to track customer foot traffic moving past a bakery and customers stopping to purchase products at any time during the day.

These devices tracked the MAC address of WiFi-enabled smartphones and recorded the data so it could be analysed at a later stage.

“The main outcomes of this analysis enabled bakeries to adjust their staff rostering, change their production schedules and in some cases extend their opening hours to ensure the customer demand was met based on actual foot traffic,” says Stubbs.

According to Stubbs, the cultural impacts of the customer analytics trial was the biggest issue as franchises were unwilling to accept the idea that data might be different to their ‘gut feel’ around customer behaviour at a specific bakery.

“It was simply a matter of convincing franchisees to be open to the possibility and then wait and see,” she says. “Once the devices had been installed for a month, the trends were noticeable and the data was used to convince the franchises that their expectations of what the customer behaviours were wasn’t correct and changes in behaviour were required to grow the business.”

Bakers Delight also has 11 pilot bakeries with digital signage installed that the company is tracking for sales impact.

“There the opportunity for us to save money on the cost associated with printing and distributing posters for every campaign that we run (10 each year). We are also realising the benefits of an uplift in sales based on the constant rotation of images and animations, which attracts customer’s attention as opposed to static images,” Stubbs says.

“We also have the ability to target messages to ensure they are contextually appropriate to location, day of week and time of day,” she says.

Byron Connolly