The right fit: How one retailer accelerated their digital transformation amid a global pandemic

Magdalena Bornos-Paciorek, Dawid Papież / September 2020

The fashion business is all about change. From the runway to the checkout, the industry has adapted to and shaped the times we live in. But nothing could have prepared fashion retailers for the abrupt changes that came in 2020.

As store shutters were pulled down, digital sales rose across retail categories in Europe, including fashion. And the trend looks like it could be here to stay. 56% of European consumers say they bought three or more products online at the height of the crisis, compared to 43% prior to. And over a quarter of them will continue to shop online more.

The right fit: How one retailer accelerated their digital transformation amid a global pandemic

COVID-19 accelerated e-commerce

A sharp surge in e-commerce occurred as online ordering provided a safe haven for consumers. For many retailers, digital became the only form of contact when stores closed ⁠— leaving them with no choice but to meet shoppers online.

This rang true for LPP, the biggest Polish clothes manufacturer in Central and Eastern Europe. With five major brands, more than 1700 brick-and-mortar stores, and 31 online markets, e-commerce was already part of the brand’s repertoire. In the wake of the pandemic, online demand began to skyrocket and the company had to adapt fast.

Cloud storage is a way of meeting seasonal influxes and strains on sites. Think of it as the tech world’s version of pay as you go.

In April alone, LPP recorded a 251% increase in online orders compared to the same period last year. A sudden demand can put a strain on even the most robust e-commerce sites. And retail experiences like Black Friday have taught marketers that downtimes cost revenue and run the risk of losing lifetime customers.

(A)head in the cloud

Digital transformation was a hot topic before 2020, and many brands have known it to be essential. But the pandemic has underscored the important role that tech plays in how consumers live, work, shop, and play. It’s made digital a more necessary component of business strategy ⁠— and more urgently needed.

Before the pandemic, LPP already made a decision to invest in cloud technology, with a commitment to implement cloud solutions for all its brands’ online stores by the end of 2020. With this technology, the teams could reduce IT costs while simplifying workflow, increasing efficiency, and improving end-user experience.

Cloud storage is a way of meeting seasonal influxes and strains on sites. Think of it as the technology world’s version of pay as you go.

The move to the cloud helped LPP meet the new demand during the height of COVID-19. The company obtained an online copy of the website to minimise the risk of failure with its online stores. That way it could be there for customers, all year round.

The right fit: How one retailer accelerated their digital transformation amid a global pandemic

Beyond the technology infrastructure

Fashion retailers have to adapt to customer demand and provide safe and user-friendly shopping. This means much more than putting together an e-commerce site to respond to increased digital demand.

Beyond creating a reliable infrastructure, LPP group has tapped into artificial intelligence, performance marketing, big data, and machine learning to get closer to its online shoppers. The applied solutions have allowed the company to observe what customers are currently buying and have helped them decide what to stock, how to stock, and how to promote. All with a much lower time to market.

As the situation continues to evolve, these solutions will allow LPP to keep track of customer needs, how their preferences are changing, and personalise offers on an ongoing basis.

Looking to the future, whatever that may hold

With its successful digital transformation, LPP was able to keep up with demand ⁠⁠— and thrive ⁠— with 174 million site visitors between February and April, a 64% increase compared to the previous year.

Digital adoption will continue to be crucial as retailers adapt to consumer preferences shaped and transformed by the pandemic.

The online surge continued after many of the stores reopened in May. The new solutions allowed LPP to keep up the three-digit increase in e-commerce turnover. The company reached 364% in May and 110% in the third week of June, when most stores were open, compared to the same period last year.

“We managed to smoothly adapt to the new reality we found ourselves in ⁠— thanks to the strategy we’ve been implementing.” says Arkadiusz Ruciński, e-commerce director at LPP. “We focused on building a strong e-commerce department and significantly increasing investment in our technological facilities.”

Digital adoption will continue to be crucial as retailers adapt to consumer preferences shaped and transformed by the pandemic. Tapping into the potential of the cloud is all about speed, security, flexibility, and savings.

“Behind all great tools and solutions there is always the human side of the business. Agile approach, flexible strategy and lean management helped LPP to adjust to the changes easily. I believe this is what other companies can learn from LPP, especially now while navigating the ever-changing times." adds Magdalena Bornos-Paciorek, Industry Manager at Google.

Businesses that follow in the footsteps of LPP can ensure system stability and virtually eliminate the risk of failure of online stores, drastically increasing reliability of their sites, especially in peak sales times. You can develop e-commerce channels more quickly, efficiently, and securely, all while maintaining a high level of customer service.

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