What do hard workers on the job site have in common with A-list celebrities? Carhartt. From construction workers and farmers to firefighters and tradespeople, some of the hardest-working people on the planet rely on Carhartt. Now, perhaps surprisingly, rappers, movie stars, and models are also choosing Carhartt to make a fashion statement.
“When a celebrity wears our product, it certainly creates a buzz around the company,” said Carhartt CIO John Hill. “It raises brand awareness and exposes products that some consumers may not be aware of.”
Behind the scenes, technology transformation became crucial for Carhartt to keep up with fast-paced growth. So, after more than 130 years in business and continued growth in popularity, it became imperative for U.S.-based company to transform both its apparel offerings and its business foundation.
“It’s important to realize that Carhartt was as far away from a virtual company as you could be,” Hill said. “We quickly realized that not only did we need to transform our technology, but also the processes that the technology was enabling. We identified hundreds of pain points that existed across that value chain. And if we can get rid of those pain points with SAP technology, ultimately we were going to provide a better experience for our associates and our customers.”
After thoroughly researching different options, Carhartt realized tapping the power of SAP’s intelligent enterprise was the best solution. Yet this hugely innovative upgrade coincided with one of the biggest challenges of our time; believe it or not, Carhartt went live during the worst of the pandemic.
Closing Shop Was Never an Option
It was a top priority for Carhartt to remain open and provide a frictionless shopping experience for customers, ensuring there was no downtime and no negative impacts on business. “At the end of the day, the brand needs to be able to react to the demands of those customers. Ultimately the customer doesn’t care what it takes to deliver,” said Hill.
With his office closed, Hill’s technology team prepared to go live while they worked from their homes.
“You can’t underestimate the challenge of doing a large scale of digital transformation, while you’re growing the business at the pace we are, and still serving customers,” said Hill.
Yet, he shares that bringing SAP technology online proved easy.
“Frankly, the harder thing in dealing with a pandemic has been there’s no blueprint of how to plan,” Hill shared. “We were taking down our revenue on a weekly basis, and then increasing it the next week. So it was a very difficult year from that perspective. The actual technology transformation felt like a more normal course of business during the year.”
Strained Supply Chains
Businesses across the planet share Carhartt’s forecasting challenges.
“People know what they want and they want it when they want it,” said President of SAP North America DJ Paoni. “And they know how they want it. Every customer in every industry has acknowledged that COVID-19 has put the maturing of the global economy on fast-forward. So those companies that have a more sophisticated digital technology are certainly able to pivot faster and connect with their customers on a whole new level.”
Carhartt believes further investment in digital technologies is a winning strategy that will also provide a fantastic experience for customers.
“So far, we implemented SAP solutions to support our retail businesses,” said Hill. “This year, we will be implementing solutions to support our wholesale and our direct-to-consumer e-commerce business. I believe that the marketplace has continued to reward those customers that deliver not only a great product, but also a digitally native experience.”