How the stocking expert Kunert succeeds digitally
BY JANINA PIELKEN
Representing around a quarter of total online sales in Germany, the fashion industry is regarded as a metronome for online retail in general. Kunert Fashion GmbH, one of the leading companies in the hosiery industry, demonstrates how to create future-oriented conditions for successful omnichannel commerce.
According to the latest study by the German Retail Federation [HDE, Handelsverband Deutschland], the ‘fashion and accessories’ sector generated around 11 billion Euros in revenue in 2016, representing year-over-year growth of 1.13 billion Euros. But offline – meaning predominantly in bricks-and-mortar shops – the industry lost around 510 million Euros in revenue.
This raises a question: What is the sector currently doing for its online future? A survey conducted by w&co MediaServices offered some surprising answers to this question. As personal conversations at Fashion Week Berlin 2017 revealed, many retailers and manufacturers throughout the fashion industry are still a long way away from leading topics such as personalised customer appeal and genuine omnichannel commerce. Brand development and the reduction of sales costs remain the top priority in eCommerce. The reasons: outmoded system infrastructures in eCommerce. And practically all of the respondents – meaning 79 out of 82 – reported that a lack of or inadequate interfaces with other systems hindered data exchange, requiring duplication of work or making the eCommerce system error-prone.
Kunert Fashion GmbH, one of the leading companies in the hosiery industry, demonstrates how to create future-oriented conditions for successful omnichannel commerce. “Along with its B2B business through retail partners, Kunert Fashion is active with its own Kunert and Hudson brand web shops in the end-customer sector as well – and this creates complex demands for target group-specific marketing communication right from the outset”, says Stephanie Killinger, Head of eCommerce at Kunert. “To develop sustainable omnichannel commerce, our stated aim was thus to create a consistent, across-the-board process for B2C and B2B retail. This provides economic and tactical benefits, because we can make better use of synergies in content and campaign management; in marketing, it simplifies and accelerates campaign management across the various channels.” Kunert realised very early on that in the IT back end only a platform-oriented strategy can track the dynamic developments in online commerce and successfully position itself in the relevant communication channels. Its partner in modernising eCommerce systems was w&co MediaServices, a Munich-based full-service provider of media services.
Within its IT, the core for omnichannel commerce at Kunert is PIM (Product Information Management) based on the censhare system for content management in the enterprise setting. Based on the single-source concept, PIM serves as a ‘data hub’ combining the main and sub-systems for eCommerce and supports system-wide process control. The enterprise resource planning (ERP) system delivers the underlying product data to PIM, where they are further enriched. To promote a high degree of automation and minimise the sources of error, censhare employs workflows that determine which target system requires which data and in which cycles the data exchange takes place.
Orders received through Kunert’s own web shops or marketplaces are handled via eFulFilment as middleware to the ERP system, which communicates availability and inventories in return. Integration of different payment providers ensures customer-oriented payment transactions.
The web shops are programmed in responsive design, with templates based on the standard installation of OXID. This makes them flexibly adaptable – for special campaigns, for instance – and open for further developments. This ensures optimum maintenance and update capability at the same time. To provide dynamic image generation for mobile devices, w&co implemented an interface to its own image server, which in turn provides all the required image formats and variants in real time.
For across-the-board processes, w&co also created numerous interfaces to existing business systems for continuous back-end processes.
To provide a basis for the development of an economic system environment for omnichannel commerce, Kunert implemented a central IT platform as PIM in 2015. It serves as a central source of content for all sales channels, and, for consistent data management, it links the ERP system within the company with the target systems in eCommerce. These include the Kunert and Hudson web shops and connected marketplaces. The PIM also exports image and product data to the MobiMedia platform for B2B business. This sales solution for the fashion industry supports the sales operation on-site at Kunert with retail partners and ensures an across-the-board continuous digital process in order entry.
The Kunert web shops relaunched in 2016 on the basis of the latest OXID eShop Enterprise Edition. The front ends received a facelift in responsive design, and user guidance and SEO were improved. OXID links to digital marketplaces such as affilinet and Google Shopping; this increases the visibility of Kunert’s own range and its reach. As a media partner, w&co generates the necessary online advertising formats and landing pages and controls their export via the various platforms. CleverReach, the newsletter tool for target group-oriented e-mail marketing, is also integrated with OXID.
“With the web shops, the development capability was particularly important to us. Extensions with innovative features and individual customisations should not impede operation and future updates”, Killinger explains. “Furthermore, with the aid of the PIM in conjunction with the image server, we were able to achieve a clear optimisation of the image data displayed in our online shops. For us, PIM represents the heart of global data supply to our connected channels.”
As a partner for system consulting, implementation and operation, w&co met many of the requirements from a single source. “With these systematic modernisation measures, Kunert optimised two challenges for online commerce in particular: the central platform-oriented content management accelerates and simplifies the effort to communicate consistently with customers across all relevant channels”, says Robert Schneider, CEO of w&co MediaServices. “On the other hand, system integration permits a high degree of automation in the processes, and this brings significant relief for the teams. This creates the necessary space in which to successfully develop brand management and customer loyalty in online commerce.”
To which Stephanie Killinger adds: “The potentials that the central PIM platform offers us in connection with the future-oriented web shop system are still far from exhausted. Developments in the market are still ongoing. With our partner w&co we are certain to continue to successfully meet the challenges the future holds in store.”
w&co MediaServices is established as a full-service provider, with complete services for holistic omnichannel marketing. In addition to implementation of web shops or shopping apps, the offer of services includes photography, creative services, pre-media and media IT for holistic enterprise content marketing.
KUNERT Fashion GmbH
This article was published in The Produktkulturmagazin, issue Q2 2018. Picture credit © KUNERT