About the Customer
Carhartt manufactures premium clothing known for exceptional durability, comfort, quality of construction and fit that you can feel in the fabrics and see in the performance. Established in Detroit in 1889, their corporate headquarters is today located in Dearborn, Michigan and our U.S. facilities are located in Kentucky and Tennessee. They have company-owned retail locations throughout the U.S. and their flagship store is located in Midtown, Detroit. They are proud to be making best-in-class apparel for the active worker. Their work environment is friendly, business casual, family oriented and welcoming to all.
Scope and Challenges
In the world of fashion, trends can surge up and subside in a matter of days. For leading retailers like Carhartt, the challenge is to connect every customer with the products they’re looking for.
Anna Cole, Director of E-Commerce at Carhartt, explains: “To drive conversions, our goal is to get the right product to the right customer at the right time. Superficially, that sounds easy, but in practice, it’s extremely difficult.
“In the past, we relied heavily on a spreadsheet-based approach to determine how our digital merchandising strategies were performing. However, because we had to pivot between so many different systems to collect the data we needed, it took at least a full working week to build our reports. If we needed to dive deeper into one of our categories, creating a granular view could take even longer.”
When a Carhartt jacket featured prominently in the Academy-Award-winning film Interstellar, the company realized that it needed to move faster to identify spikes in demand.
“Carhartt is about authenticity, and for that reason, our products often appear in movies,” Cole continues. “Before Interstellar was released, the jacket that Matthew McConaughey was wearing wasn’t one of our bestselling items—but as soon as people started seeing the movie, the look blew up. It took us a week to identify that trend, and we knew we’d missed out on a significant opportunity. To help us get in front of fast-changing customer preferences, we looked for a way to accelerate and enhance our analytics processes.”
As part of this new digital landscape, Carhartt deployed a wide range of enterprise solutions, and their portfolio includes IBM WebSphere® Commerce, IBM Watson™ Insights, SAP Apparel and Footwear ERP, SAP Business Warehouse, SAP Process Integration and Salesforce CRM.
Outcome and Implications
With an AI platform constantly monitoring its business data for emerging trends, Carhartt can act faster than ever to capitalize on new opportunities.
“The next time that one of our products goes viral, Watson Commerce Insights will be able to spot that trend and point it out to our merchandisers,” explains Cole. “Our team can then quickly identify the source of a surge in our website traffic, and quickly adapt our marketing and merchandising strategies. By taking timely actions like making the in-demand product the hero image on our homepage and purchasing related search terms, we can make it as easy as possible for customers to buy—driving our revenues.”
Like many leading retailers, the holiday season is Carhartt’s busiest sales period. With IBM Watson Commerce Insights, the company is harnessing AI to help accelerate its decision-making at times when every hour counts.
Cole notes: “We do significant business in November and December, which means it’s vital for us to make well-informed merchandising decisions rapidly. Previously, if our merchandisers needed to find out what percentage of a SKU was available, they needed to go directly into each product detail page in IBM WebSphere Commerce. Based on that information, they would make manual adjustments to move products running low on stock to the bottom of the list on our site—a time-consuming process.
“We started using Watson Commerce Insights a few months before our peak winter season, and the results have been exceptional. Using the solution’s intelligent sequencing capability, we designed rules to automatically move products that are trending to the top of their page and reposition products where inventory is running low further down their page—saving valuable time that we can spend on deeper analytics. We measured record-breaking conversion rates during the holiday period, and IBM Watson Commerce Insights played a key role in that success.”
Deeper insight into inventory is helping Carhartt to deliver better experiences to its customers.
Cole comments: “In the past, we were frequently forced to act on data that was at least one week old, which meant there was always the risk of promoting a product that had started to go out of stock—leading to disappointed customers. Today, we can see the quantity of each SKU in stock in real time, which empowers our content and marketing teams to focus their work on the right products.”
Based on its success with IBM Watson Commerce Insights, Carhartt is already looking for ways to extend its use of AI.
“We measured record-breaking conversion rates during the holiday period, and IBM Watson Commerce Insights played a key role in that success.” Said - Anna Cole, Director of E-Commerce, Carhartt
“At the moment, we’re using a range of separate analytics systems throughout the business, many of which have AI capabilities. The more effectively we can harness our data, the better we can learn what our customers want and find the best way to offer it to them. In the future, we would love to feed all our data into IBM Watson—delivering a single source for analytics insights across our business, and the ultimate personalized experience for our customers.” Said - Anna Cole, Director of eCommerce, Carhartt
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