Holt Renfrew is investing in IT to replace merchandising and finance systems, modernize point-of-sale systems and revamp e-commerce, as part of its four-year, wide-ranging overhaul costing 400 million Canadian dollars, or $308.2 million at current exchange.
In its latest tech initiative, Holt signed on with Joor, a digital wholesale marketplace and data exchange that enables buyers to order quicker, eliminate paperwork, see what other buyers are purchasing to better coordinate merchandise presentations and view real-time sales data. Brands on the Joor marketplace working with Holt include Balenciaga, Stella McCartney and Proenza Schouler, and the Neiman Marcus Group, Harrods and Printemps are among the two dozen or so retailers using Joor.
In the following Q&A, Robert Zeidel, Holt’s chief operating officer, explains why the retailer selected Joor to transform its buying process.
WWD: Why did Holt decide utilize Joor?
Robert Zeidel: Joor offers us the ability to exchange data with our vendor partners faster [and] will allow our buyers to streamline and digitize our merchandise buying processes, ultimately optimizing our brand partner experience.
WWD: Who at Holt utilizes the Holt platform?
R.Z.: Primarily, the buyers as well as the management team, who will have access to high-quality data and images, offering a broad understanding of Holt Renfrew’s merchandise. Approximately 40 buyers and assistant buyers are involved. Buyers will be able to create merchandized looks and track budgets in real time, ultimately leading to shorter and smarter appointments and allowing them to send purchase commitments faster than ever to brand partners. Joor also allows for financial budgets to be easily tracked and reported to senior management.
WWD: Is there a learning curve?
R.Z.: As with any new technology, there will be a learning curve but the mobile and desktop version of the Joor application are very user-friendly and intuitive.
WWD: How else is IT changing Holt?
R.Z.: In addition to Joor, Holt Renfrew is increasing ways to interact with customers via investment in other IT systems. We’ve just updated our online presence and will continue to see a number of substantial improvements over the next year, including various categories available for purchase through e-commerce. We’re also replacing merchandising and finance systems with SAP and are modernizing all point of sale systems beginning spring 2019.