Williams-Sonoma Leverages Cloud Commerce to Take Its Business Global

Posted by Adrian Bridgwater, Guest Blogger

Initially wary of the cloud, high-end home products retailer Williams-Sonoma is now embracing next-generation commerce systems as it expands its business internationally using NetSuite to manage all transactions with its consumers and partners worldwide.

“We knew though that we could not go forward with some ‘controllable dream’ and just replicate our own stores in every global location,” said Rob Bogan, vice president, International Systems. “Having to work with some more regional distributors and create franchised operations of different sizes in different locations produced all sorts of international economic obstacles.”

Williams-Sonoma targeted the English speaking international market first, beginning with Australia and then expanding to the U.K. It sent out RFPs for IT operations firms that would be able to help it create what it called retail-in-a-box.

Essentially it was looking for an integrated commerce platform to support end-to-end customer and commerce relationships. The firm also tried to leverage existing in-house systems for content, data and images as much as possible so that it could make use of these assets such as product photos wherever possible.

“We are also nurturing relationships with our customers by engaging them in an interactive, personalized and intuitive shopping experience whether it is in our stores, through our websites or our catalogs,” Bogan said.

NetSuite allowed the company to create a business proposition that offered what the firm calls ‘click-to-brick’. It implemented NetSuite and then successfully integrated the product with Oracle, Lawson, TIBCO and other systems that were needed.

The result was that, as its Southern Hemisphere operation kicked into gear, Williams-Sonoma launched four Australian websites from contract to go-live in under 100 days.

“Some of this move to cloud was scary in terms of getting the buy in that we needed from management,” Bogan said. “Now that we are up and running, NetSuite has played a key role in our international expansion through support for a variety of currencies, tax jurisdictions and financial structures all while offering a pixel-perfect experience to our website users that our customers have.”

Using tools like SiteBuilder, Williams-Sonoma is continuing to “add maturity” to its IT systems now that it regards its business model as mature, Bogan said. With NetSuite underpinning its IT strategy, Williams-Sonoma says that it is capable of being “multi-channel out of the gates” and so the firm is poised and ready to leverage its assets and think about approaching new revenue streams at all levels. The firm has other countries, websites and stores in the pipeline now.

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