Can a high-end retailer offer a digital customer experience that matches the personalized service it’s known for in-store? Can a decades-old company undergo digital transformation and stay true to who they are?

Harry Rosen did just that, with the help of IBM Cloud and Kubernetes.

Founded in 1954, the high-end Canadian men’s clothing retailer is known for its personalized in-store experience with expertly trained clothing advisors. “Our advisors are not salespeople. Our advisors are experience makers,” says Steve Warriner, CTO of Harry Rosen. “They know everything about our products and everything about our customers. We heavily invested into a CRM that allows us to cater to our clients’ needs.”

The founder’s grandson, Ian Rosen, has been the driving force behind the move to digitally transform the business. About five years ago, they began the move to IBM Cloud, migrating their marketing analytics database to target the right customers with the right email campaigns.

They quickly realized the benefits of being in the cloud; with the click of a button, they could spin up a new server as needed. So when their legacy systems needed a refresh, they shifted away from procuring new hardware to using IBM Cloud. The plan was to modernize their apps and re-platform their e-commerce site — but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Website traffic spiked, but they couldn’t support it. The site was too slow and payments weren’t always going through. At the same time, COVID changed consumer buying behaviours — there was more demand for sportswear (and deeper discounts) than expensive suits. Ian Rosen decided to fast-track their DX plans, doing a year’s worth of development in six months.

“The heartbeat of our ecommerce platform sits in IBM Cloud. We couldn’t keep up with demand on our CRM, so we started to use containers for different microservices within CRM using Kubernetes. As demand spiked, we were able to add more containers,” says Warriner. “As a result, the speed of our website has increased at least 100-fold.”

The site also features vastly improved search capabilities and, thanks to an upgrade of the warehouse management system, can trigger inventory updates in seconds. But Harry Rosen still offers personalization: its new advisor app called Herringbone, which resides on IBM Cloud, allows advisors to create a personalized wardrobe or ‘laydown’ for a customer directly within the app — mimicking what they could do in-store.

With the help of IBM, Harry Rosen has undergone a true digital transformation — from the warehouse to the customer’s home. “We’re in the customer service business,” says Warriner. “Shopping online at harryrosen.com should also be an experience and deliver the same level of service that our customers expect.”

Find out more about IBM Cloud options on Cloud Central here.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada