28 Sep Yoox Net-à-Porter: innovation at its core
The Yoox Net-à-Porter group (YNAP) was born from the merger in 2015 of Italian fashion retailer Yoox and British luxury pure-player Net-à-Porter (which includes Net-à-Porter, Mr.Porter and TheOutnet brands). The group has a turnover of almost £2bn and plans a double-digit growth through to 2020. As a result, the group is focusing on innovation and tech to grow business. Let’s review the pillars of a tech-oriented strategy.
ONE CORE PLATFORM FOR ALL
YNAP’s headquarters take place in Bologna (Italy) – where Yoox is based and in London (UK) where YNAP is from. The global organisation now operates through 3 businesses described as follows: in-season, off-season and online flagship stores. The multi-brand in-season side of the business is represented by Net-à-Porter & Mr. Porter while the off-season line includes TheOutnet and Yoox. Prior the merger, Yoox used to also design, set up and run online flagship stores for leading luxury brands such as Chloe.com for example.
Following the merger, the group had to reorganise its operations and decided to implement in July ONE shared, global and scalable cloud-based platform – developed with IBM. The idea behind this implementation was to ease post-merger integration and run all of the businesses from one focal point.
This core platform is nourished by product information, warehouse data and back-end systems. YNAP’s goal is to centralise in one place all businesses information while enabling through a set of APIs each brand to use the same features but in different ways – in ways that meet their customers needs. Brands are able to differentiate in order to deliver a seamless shopping experience in line with local particularities. The tech teams develop general features as well as solutions for specific brands which are added into the plateform in order to become available to all.
THE THREE PILLARS FOR GROWTH
The YNAP tech hubs are focusing on three main pillars to support international expansion: personalisation, omnichannel and mobile.
- Personalisation refers on how YNAP will better understand each customer, its location and its shopping goal in order to create a truly personalised experience. YNAP is currently using IBM Watson to improve product recommendations as well as building natural language search tools. They are also working on an AI-empowered outfit builder that uses customer data (such as customer’s size, preferred brands, etc.) to suggest the most relevant outfit. Visual search is also a topic for YNAP as shoppers should be able in the future to simply upload pictures, find similar clothes and purchase looks.
- Omnichannel is at the core of YNAP’s strategy and by using IBM Sterling Order Management the group tends to build a omni-stock plan. It will give a single view on stock accross all distribution centres of the group enabling flexible fulfilment options. Customers will be able to order brands from Net-à-Porter and pick up items from brands own stores. It will also be possible for customers to get same-day delivery in several cities such as New-York, London, Milan, Dubai, Shanghai or Tokyo. And finally they will have the possibility to pick up items anywhere in the world and return them from anywhere (even from another store in a different country).
- Mobile is increasingly important for YNAP as mobile sales account now for 50% of all sales. YNAP intends to become a mobile-only company and invests heavily in iOS/Android apps and artificial intelligence (to enable natural language capabilities). The company recently added messaging via mobile apps as well as screen sharing, enabling then personal shoppers to share information directly with customers. As always, the new functionnality has been made available for all brands on the core plateform and can be featured by each brand to match their needs.
To conclude, as soon as technologies are tested, refined and approved, they will be added to YNAP core platform and available to all retailers and brands of the group. As all parts of the business will migrate onto the new platform, the synergies will appear bringing along process optimisation, permanent innovation and cross-group working facilities. This tech-oriented strategy will without a doubt support sales as well as post-merger integration.