From the minute COVID-19 affected fashion business models, experts from SAP Services have been helping customers in the fashion retail industry keep their operations going while continuing their adoption of SAP solutions. This success is the result of our evolving project model, which includes off-site customer engagements and interactions.

Over the last two decades, very few industries have experienced the same level of success as fashion retail. As economic growth steadily increased, a natural rise in consumer demand emerged, and the industry caught the wave early enough worldwide to relish in growing sales volumes.

With trends popping up on a near-weekly basis and an exponential rise in the number of new collections each year, the industry was full of unlimited potential. Fast fashion became highly profitable. Leading brands opened stores all over the globe and dominated the streets of major capitals and megacities. Even designers of established labels have been anointed rock stars, endorsed by famous actors, celebrities, and many other influencers.

Since the beginning of this upswing, SAP has been working closely with industry players. Together, we have developed enterprise resource planning (ERP) back-end systems and core solutions for areas such as supply chain management, warehouse management, customer relationship management, forecasting and replenishment, and promotion management. And all this innovation has been accomplished over the last 15 years while fashion retailers transitioned from a purely online sales channel to an omnichannel approach.

The Pandemic Shook Up Every Industry Norm

Before the pandemic took full impact, most projects were already running with our experts, who were working closely on-site at our fashion retail customers’ headquarters worldwide. Some of our customers were preparing to go live, while others were either planning their implementation or setting up their solution investment to address business requirements.

But we reached a point where customer safety regulations and travel restrictions tightened, and people were told to work from home. Such mandates are not complementary with a traditional brick-and-mortar store approach. Without an outlet to engage customers, transact their purchases, and fulfill their needs, many fashion retailers would have stayed in the red financially.

Such a new development only heightened our customers’ sense of urgency around their omnichannel projects. Instead of halting initiatives to conserve cash during a time of economic uncertainty, these fashion retailers chose to continue – if not accelerate – their projects, even as their business experts and our technology and process experts were working from home.

To ensure the continuity of our engagements, the Services and Support organization at SAP reacted swiftly with clearly defined guidelines based on our 25-year experience with off-site work. This action allowed our team to deliver already started and planned services remotely. In cases where an on-site presence was essential, pragmatic turnarounds – such as switching from international to national teams – were considered, always adhering to the latest travel policies and legal requirements.

Our ability to continuously support our customers enables them to face every twist and turn of the pandemic with the assistance of SAP service experts. We help retailers manage their end-to-end processes with on-premise and cloud solutions from our fashion retail solution portfolio to achieve sustainable efficiency across production, purchasing, logistics, sales, marketing, customer service, HR, and finance. Plus, others leverage omnichannel marketing strategies to maintain and accelerate consumer interest in fashion lines across various target groups.

But more importantly, all the efforts of our fashion retail customers are securing their place in an ever progressing omnichannel fashion world.

According to Guido Schlief, senior vice president and head of Services in Middle and Eastern Europe at SAP, the digital transformations that our customers are pursuing are essential to their success. “Services experts from SAP have the skills our fashion retail customers need to flexibly react to challenges and enable business continuity in an always-growing and dynamic omnichannel world.”

Service offerings from SAP can help your fashion retail business seize your edge in an always growing and dynamic omnichannel world. Find out how here.

This is the first part of a three-part series “The Omnichannel Fashion Retailer.” Next week, explore how COVID-19 is changing the future of fashion retail.

Dirk Dreisbach and Harald Ritter are chief business enterprise consultants for the Business Transformation Services group at SAP Germany, focusing on consumer products and retail industries.