Ralph Lauren calls ecommerce audible, bets on Salesforce

The retail and clothing maker was planning to launch a new ecommerce platform in the next year, but needs to move faster. Salesforce gets the nod over an internal system as e-commerce sales falter.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Ralph Lauren said it will switch gears on its ecommerce strategy, as it decides to migrate to Salesforce's Commerce Cloud over a custom system.

The apparel company, which has struggled to hit financial targets amid inventory issues in recent quarters, outlined its latest ecommerce plan.

Ralph Lauren said it will close its flagship store at 711 Fifth Avenue in New York City and integrate operations with its seven stores in the city. The company is looking to save $140 million in annualized expenses to fund additional investments. Those savings are in addition to the $180 million to $220 million a year outlined at Ralph Lauren's investor day in June.

Like other retailers and clothing companies, Ralph Lauren is facing multiple challenges such as fast fashion models, ecommerce, and brick-and-mortar assets.


At its June investor day, Ralph Lauren outlined a plan called Way Forward that would revamp ecommerce and streamline operations. In its annual report last year, Ralph Lauren said it was migrating its company to a global SAP instance. SAP would cover US and North American operations with features like procure to pay and auto replenishment. On the ecommerce front, Ralph Lauren said in its annual report:

"We are also in the process of building an in-house global e-commerce platform as part of our plan to further enhance our omni-channel capabilities. Rollout of the new global e-commerce platform is expected to be completed in 2018."

Here's the Way Forward effort in two slides:


It appears Ralph Lauren dropped that in-house system for Salesforce. After all, Ralph Lauren couldn't wait another year to build out its ecommerce platform. In its most recent quarter, Ralph Lauren said ecommerce same store sales fell 10 percent while brick-and-mortar fell 3 percent in its fiscal third quarter. In June, Stefan Larsson, CEO of Ralph Lauren, said:

"When it comes to the shopping experience, the online experience is disappointing today. We don't show up strong enough in terms of being a flagship destination and we don't have the functionality that makes it easy and convenient enough to shop."

In February, Larsson noted that the ecommerce pressure would continue into the next fiscal year. By switching gears, Ralph Lauren is hoping it can revamp faster.

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