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How Fast Can You Go?

Pounding his fist on the long table in their boardroom, the CEO bellowed out to his top lieutenants “fast, fast, fast, we have to get faster at everything we do!”  This week I spent an invaluable day with a long time SAP customer as I participated in discussions on how we can jointly innovate for massive growth of their business. 


They are in the fashion brand business but have been expanding into Retail for the last five plus years. Retail is a fiercely competitive industry and this company has used their investment in SAP as a weapon to differentiate their business and gain operational cost advantages.  They truly exemplify how a customer can use technology to gain the edge in the market.   It’s immensely rewarding to see your customer plan for and achieve their growth and profitability targets!  They challenged existing paradigms and boldly combined software, processes, and people together to elevate their business to the next level.  The meeting this week was a milestone in our companies’ commitment to grow and innovate together.


SAP has been at the foundation of their success.  They started off running their wholesale business using the SAP Apparel and Footwear Solution. At that time they were only a $300M revenue company challenged in getting to the next level.  They wanted to streamline their operations, better service their retailers, and create the platform for future growth.  They realized they needed visibility into customer demand and through the supply chain, all the way to their raw material suppliers. Using SAP solutions they achieved these goals with flying colors, and more: significant improvement in profitability and order fill rates accompanied with considerable reduction in chargebacks.   They applied the increased profits to rapidly expand into the global market supporting their retailers with a global supply chain.


They weren’t done yet. They sought growth by extending their business model and going direct to the consumer.  Their retail division started with ‘outlet’ stores, as a way to increase consumer visibility to their brand and capture higher margins on closeout merchandise.  As the outlet store model gained steam and continued to grow their brand loyalty, they expanded into full priced retail stores in major shopping areas.  Consumers found their formula attractive: their products are aspirational yet affordable, creative designs are core to their collections, and were gaining appeal as a must have fashion accessory.  Their retail growth has been phenomenal. They are now in over fifteen countries across multiple continents, doing almost as much business outside the United States as within. Our Retail Wiki offers you a view to the many retail solutions available today. 


I don’t want to give away too much here, but they have their eyes set on a major expansion in a new geography and are working with us as a co-innovator to apply SAP HANA to their wholesale business processes to gain more speed in operations and decision making.  The CEO was pleased that the operational efficiencies gained from the SAP solutions helped fund their global growth, and now wants to be even bolder with the audacious goal of doubling their revenues over the next five years based on an expected $3B this year.   The underlying philosophy and approach that SAP HANA brings is very different from any other competitor. Working together and utilizing HANA, the next generation of the “fire breathing dragon”, we will help them get there faster, and faster, and faster!

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