Name: Nathan AlexanderTitle: Chief Technology OfficerCompany: R.M. WilliamsCommenced role: July 2019
In the ever-evolving world of retail, renowned Australian bootmaker and clothing label R.M. Williams, has been overhauling its technology to transform its operations and enhance customer experiences.
Over the past two years, under the leadership of chief technology officer Nathan Alexander, R.M. Williams has introduced a comprehensive digital strategy that has revolutionised the way the organisation operates, delivering tangible value and reshaping its customer-centric approach.
Prior to the digital transformation, RM Williams faced numerous challenges, including fragmented systems, limited customer relationship management capabilities, and a lack of streamlined processes.
“We were providing customer service via email and basic telephone calls, we had no central customer relationship management capabilities. Our customer service teams would need to access over 30 separate systems to provide our customers with an update to the status of a particular order or repair service, “ Nathan Alexander tells CIO Australia.
“We had a spider’s web of systems with a lot of technical debt that impacted R.M. Williams’ ability to truly elevate the customer, employee and community experiences.”
Reimagining its digital DNA
However, with a vision to enrich customers’ journeys and elevate employee and community experiences, the company embarked on a journey to reimagine its digital DNA.
After conducting research into various options, R.M. Williams identified cloud-based SaaS technologies that could serve as the foundation for its digital ecosystem. The company partnered with Salesforce and Newstore, not only for their technological solutions but also for their active involvement in architecting and building the core infrastructure. This strategic approach ensured a seamless integration of various systems, enabling a connected customer journey across retail, customer service, and online platforms, according to Alexander.
The new digital architecture introduced several innovative technologies and capabilities across R.M. Williams’ operations. Key components included a new CRM delivered by Service Cloud, advanced marketing automation via Marketing Cloud, a mobile-first reference architecture delivered through Commerce Cloud, a customer data platform called “Tealium,” a product information management system named “Comestri,” and a cloud-first omni-channel mobile point of sale solution called “Newstore.”
Return on investment
By integrating these solutions, R.M. Williams achieved remarkable results. Secure payment options and enhanced shipping methods empowered customers with convenient and flexible purchasing experiences. The retail teams embraced the new mobile point of sale technology, providing a simplified and intuitive digital selling experience to customers. Furthermore, the introduction of chat and video selling capabilities further improved the online customer service experience, reducing barriers and friction at the point of purchase.
The digital transformation program was divided into three key releases, allowing for the accelerated delivery of customer and revenue-generating functionalities. This phased approach ensured early value realisation, building momentum, and fostering broad adoption of the new technologies across the organisation.
Remarkably, the program had paid back its initial capital investment before its completion, demonstrating the significant return on investment achieved within a short timeframe.
“The digital transformation program that was approved was modelled and businesses cased over a five-year period to support the Capex investment,” says Alexander. “The project had paid back the Capex investment before the program was actually completed. The program paid back in 1.4 Years and saw the IRR [internal rate of return] improve by 31 per cent.”
Alexander says that executive sponsorship, support and engagement were critical to the success of the program.
And he pays tribute to the team who delivered on what they set out to do.
“There are various cross functional heads of departments who have planned, ideated, budgeted and delivered this. Without their leadership and support this program would not have been delivered with the same degree of success, if they had not empowered and encouraged their teams to show up in the right light, all adding to the development of a high performance transformation culture.”