Why All Saints killed email

Is email dead? Traditional retail systems can be slow to communicate, and it’s lengthening the time it takes to get products to market. So is there a faster, better way to unite a global multichannel organisation?

That was the challenge fashion retailer All Saints took to Google when it launched an ambitious project to create a socially networked enterprise.

Speaking at RBTE 2016, James Wintle, All Saints’ Global Director of Digital and Technology, explained that the company wanted to bring a social mentality to the way they communicated as a business. In the consumer world, nobody needs an instruction manual to operate an iPad or training to master Twitter, so why does business communication involve such great complexity?

All Saints wanted a more collaborative means of operating; a system that could easily connect its 3,000 network users across 16 countries, and make it easier to share ideas and give feedback. Transparency was absolutely key to achieving this.

The retailer partnered with Google to create a social media-style community platform through Google’s enterprise app. Now, its 150-page visual merchandising manual for stores has been scrapped in favour of how-to videos; in-store stylists have a direct feedback loop with the visual merchandising and design teams; and All Saints’ Global CEO has a communication channel with every member of the company, and every single partner. The system is no longer laborious or hierarchical.

“Email creates a lot of opportunities for things to fall down the back of the sofa,” James commented when discussing project management. The process is now much quicker and less admin-intensive – in December alone, each member of the company saved an average two hours’ time, which could be spent on customer-focused activities.

And embracing a familiar technology brand like Google meant the switchover was intuitive for users, many of whom used Gmail personally. The complete rollout to 3,000 company personnel took just 100 days, and it has truly revolutionised the speed and quality of decision making throughout the business. Now, All Saints is a truly collaborative global fashion brand.

Since its roll-out 18 months ago, social engineering has enabled All Saints to enhance the customer experience, and get product to shoppers faster. It’s increased productivity will also support business growth – and with ambitious plans to open a further 60 stores over the next 12 months, this liberation couldn’t have come at a better time…

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