Steven Temares, CEO of the retail chain Bed Bath & Beyond, recently discussed the company's technology-investment strategy and the transition to a digital enterprise.
Since the company reported net sales for the fourth quarter of 2015 up approximately 2.4 percent over 2014, it’s interesting to explore the major areas in which the company has invested.
Investment in IT
The company increased its head count in IT by almost 500, with many new hires devoted to digital technology. The role of IT has also been expanded, with IT reaching across all departments to support the company's goals.
Most of the customer-facing applications have been replaced or upgraded as well as many of the back-end systems. Future goals include improving the multichannel view of customers through enhanced systems integration.
Investment in Analytics
The company created a structured analytics department and invested in hiring the best talent available. Data is consolidated into a central platform for better analysis and augments the data it has collected with third-party demographics to provide a more comprehensive view of the company's customers.
The analytics department proactively supports many other areas, including marketing, finance, store operations, merchandising and logistics. The company is committed to having a 360-degree customer view to support marketing efforts such as personalization.
Investment in Marketing Automation
Historically, the company's marketing program relied heavily on newspaper ads, postcards and circulars. Although the company has not completely abandoned traditional media, more marketing efforts are centered on online concepts such as page search, email, social media, texts and SEO. Marketing leverages analytics to create greater personalization and more precise targeting.
Investment in Store Technology
The company has invested in a variety of tools to improve customers' in-store experience. Some initiatives are already in place, others are currently being tested and the balance are planned soon.
For example, customers at the Brooklyn store can access product images, pricing and reviews using the "scan for more" tool. Interactive personalized catalogs will allow customers to access products selected just for them, while the advisor tool will ask questions to find the most suitable products for the customer's responses.
Associates will be equipped with wearable tech and/or mobile devices to improve their ability to serve customers on the floor. In 2016, the company will also launch its new point-of-sales system, the culmination of an investment that has spanned multiple years.
Investment in Digital
The company's website has been redesigned with better search capabilities, improved navigation and enhanced functionality. Customers can store and organize coupons in a virtual wallet for printing, or they can access digital coupons in the store or online. The company's mobile sites are undergoing revision to streamline them for improved customer experiences, and various mobile apps have also been created.
Soon, the company will increase the number of online sites that allow customers to upload images of products they have purchased to demonstrate how they are using them.
Despite the company's major investments in technology, Bed Bath & Beyond remains committed to customer service. The digital transformation is viewed as just another way to demonstrate its customer-centric philosophy by meeting the needs of shoppers.