Running Live While Living the Island Life

The motto of Seattle-based retailer Tommy Bahama is “Live the island life.” The brand’s values are “relax and just have fun,” according to CEO Doug Wood.

“We’re a happy brand,” he says. “Take us to your favorite vacation location or to your back yard. Whatever makes you relax, we’re your brand of choice.”

But like any smart retailer, Tommy Bahama doesn’t take a laid-back approach to competing in the marketplace. The company strives to continually improve its ability to innovate, optimize channels, deliver a superior experience, and connect with customers.

To achieve those goals, it relies on a constant stream of data that allows the company to run live – while enabling the company’s customers to live the island life.


Island Innovations

Now in its 25th year, Tommy Bahama designs and sells men’s and women’s clothing as well as a complete home collection, from dinnerware to beach chairs. It also operates 17 branded restaurants. It has 4,000 employees and over 160 stores in North America, Japan, and Australia.

To remain competitive, the company constantly re-evaluates how it does business. For instance, until 2008 the company’s business was 75 percent wholesale and 25 percent direct to consumer. But growing e-commerce sales revealed customer demand to develop a direct relationship with the brand. Today, the company is 75 percent direct to consumer and 25 percent wholesale.

The company has innovated to cement those customer relationships. On the Hawaiian island of Maui, in addition to a popular restaurant the company has also deployed a food truck that serves the entire island – and delivers the Tommy Bahama message to a broader audience.

In Florida, the company has augmented its store at Coconut Point by adding its new Marlin Bar concept. Sales have significantly exceeded expectations in both the bar and the store and additional locations are being evaluated.

And in New York, the company created the Cabana Room, an upscale shopping experience for women’s swimwear and cover-ups. This store-within-a-store combines swimsuit specialists with digital screens that display its entire swimwear line to help customers buy the perfect swimsuit with confidence.

Of course, Tommy Bahama faces the same challenge as all retailers: fewer people shopping in stores and connecting with the brand in person. Yet Wood feels confident the company can maintain strong customer relationships across channels.

I can make those experiences fantastic, and I’m going to have a relationship with that guest. … Whether it’s online, stores, restaurants, wholesale … you have to set up an environment so that the guest is going to interact with you any way they want to.”


Live Data for a Live Business

To continue innovating and connecting with customers, Tommy Bahama depends on live data. That data needs to flow in from the field, and it needs to be shared seamlessly among management of its retail, wholesale, digital, and restaurant channels.

“To have the connection between what’s going on with physical stores, what happens on the website, what happens with the restaurants, you have to have a very tight-knit executive team,” Wood believes. “We have to get a lot of information out, and we have to take a lot of information back in.”

The retailer maintains a dialog with customers and gains new customer insights with the help of SAP Hybris solutions. “SAP Hybris … is the foundation for our digital efforts,” Wood says. “It gives us stability, gives us the ability to keep adding scale, and allows us to keep innovating.”

Going forward, Tommy Bahama plans to leverage capabilities in SAP Hybris to personalize its interactions with customers. For example, the company will be able to fine-tune promotional e-mails based on the customer’s location and the exact items they’ve already purchased.

“That’s where personalization really comes in,” Wood explains. “The great thing about SAP Hybris is that there are so many ways that you can keep expanding what you’re offering to your guest.”

Ultimately, Wood says, SAP has become a partner in the business. And that has allowed Wood to experience a bit of the island life as a CEO.

“The way that SAP’s partnership has made my life easier is … I know that I’m with a company that has been doing this for a very long time, and is on the edge of the innovation that’s happening in our industry. So I can turn to a trusted partner that can help lead us into the future.”

Learn more about how Tommy Bahama’s Doug Wood and other
leaders are using SAP solutions to help their businesses run live.
Watch our exclusive “Leaders Are Live” videos.

This story also appeared on the Digitalist.
Images via Tommy Bahama