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Bringing it all Back Home

Hanover Direct aligns back-end systems for seamless front-end experience

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The days of independent silos, of when the Web, phone, catalog and store could be operated separately each with its own unique customer experiences and fulfillment processes, are behind us. Today’s “always connected” consumers demand a seamless experience from the retailers they shop, regardless of channel. And that seamless experience requires extensive alignment of systems on the back end as well as the front end.

Weehawken, N.J.-based Hanover Direct is a multichannel, multibrand retailer, which operates catalog, phone and e-commerce channels, along with five physical stores, under several banners: Company Store, Company Kids, Scandia Home and Undergear. Currently, Hanover is in the process of revamping back-end systems and processes to allow its customers as seamless an experience as possible, regardless of how they choose to engage with the retailer.

“When you think of separate sales channels, you fight on growing each point of interaction separately,” explained Jeffrey Rosenholtz, CIO of Hanover Direct. “When you look at the company as a whole, you grow each point of interaction holistically. You get one view of the customer and all the channels work in tandem.”

With this philosophy in mind, Hanover Direct realized that its previously existing homegrown back-end infrastructure, supported by a 17-year-old enterprise mainframe as well as a variety of disparate on-premise legacy software solutions, was not suitable for providing a modern, seamless customer experience. As a result, in August 2012, after a six-to-seven-month implementation, Hanover Direct launched NetSuite OneWorld to support customer-facing activities on a common Demandware front end that served as a platform for catalog, call center and e-commerce channels.

Real-time Order Management

According to Rosenholtz, one big advantage the NetSuite implementation offers is the replacement of a daily batch-processing order management cycle to a real-time cycle, which leads to enhanced promotional effectiveness. “We can put a promotion on the Web and see how it’s doing,” Rosenholtz said. “We can track source codes. If the promotion isn’t doing well, we can tweak it in real time and see if the changes are working.”

Masters of Store

Rosenholtz said Hanover Direct plans to implement a POS system from NetSuite in its stores so that the store becomes part of the larger seamless customer experience.

“Once stores are online, our goal is to be able to shift inventory from store to store to meet demand,” Rosenholtz added. “We want one combined experience so that when you swipe a credit card in the store, we can make a targeted offer based on what you’ve bought online.”

In addition to improving customer service, promotions and order management, the NetSuite implementation has allowed Hanover Direct to streamline its IT operation. By shifting enterprise operations to the cloud-based NetSuite platform, the retailer has been able to reduce IT resources, as well as scale back hardware from 46 to 25 servers and eliminating the cost of maintaining and operating the facility.

“We need to serve the modern customer who shops by tablet, smartphone and Web,” Rosenholtz said. “We couldn’t do that with 1990s technology, but we can do that now.”

© 2014