Williams-Sonoma, the US-based owners of brands such as West Elm and Pottery Barn, is forging ahead with two-tier enterprise resource planning (ERP) adoption in an effort to expand globally. The furniture, utensils and kitchenware retailer changed focus when Laura Alber took over as chief executive officer in 2010, making a move towards opening stores internationally rather than focussing solely on America. Now, in order to keep up with expanding business, a two-tier ERP approach is being taken to ensure that control can be maintained.
Williams-Sonoma initially launched franchises in the Middle East; however, it has since starting opening its own stores in locations such as the UK and Australia. Moving outside the US meant that both front-end and back-end systems needed upgrading in terms of point-of-sale systems, ERP and websites. A lot of money has been spent in the US on on-site solutions, including meshing together technology offered by both Oracle and SAP. As international business began, Williams-Sonoma realised fast integration was required and decided to utilise NetSuite as its cloud-based vendor. Rob Bogan, the vice-president of international systems, said that the two-tier approach was decided upon as it was a low-cost option that allowed the company to expand quickly.
“We wanted company-owned stores, company-owned websites around the world – the time was right but we needed to move quickly. We looked at using the domestic solution we use in the US for this, but taking those systems global was going to be way too expensive and too slow to market,” Mr Bogan said, adding: “We also didn’t want a situation where the cost and the depreciation was going to cripple the international business where they were not going to see a profit for a decade or more. [We] needed the cost profile, needed something that was scalable. Following the decision to go with NetSuite we launched four websites in under 100 days; for those who have never done anything like that before, it’s huge.”
The fact that Williams-Sonoma decided to go down the two-tier route and managed to launch four international websites in just 100 days shows the significant advantages that can be gained by moving into the realm of cloud ERP. Meanwhile, with many global companies noticing that their current on-site systems are coming to the end of their lives and need bolstering, it seems that two-tier ERP solutions are set to become the way of the future.
This article was written by Montash.
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