Inside Gildan’s Digital Transformation for B2B Ecommerce

Started in 1946 in Montreal, Canada as a children’s apparel manufacturing company, Gildan has gone on to become one of the world’s leading vertically-integrated manufacturers of apparel, socks and legwear.

Gildan is well-known for the high quality of its products but it is also known for its program for social, environmental, and governance (ESG). Because of its long history of ethical manufacturing practices and sustainable production, Gildan was named one the ” 100 Most Sustainable Companies” by The Wall Street Journal for 2020.

The company’s portfolio includes brands such as American Apparel, GOLDTOE and others. Gildan also has a Board of Decorators website. This is an inspiring community of decorators, created by and for decorators. Recently, Gildan combined six sites into one and launched wholesale website gildanbrands.com.

We sat down with Kees Olthof (senior manager for consumer experience at Gildan) to learn more about the company’s ecommerce journey.

Interview Gildan on B2B Ecommerce Growth

How much is your business direct-to consumers (DTC) and business-to business (B2B), respectively?

Kees Olthof : “I would suggest that the majority of wholesale is B2B. DTC is for us a sales channel but it’s so much more. DTC allows us to interact directly with our customers, which allows us to be more customer-centric. The DTC websites allow us to have complete control over our brand and the customer experience.

What was it that motivated you to make the switch from paper to an online catalogue for wholesale?

KO “As a brand we realized that paper catalogues were an obsolete medium. They only allow us to interact with customers in one dimension. We realized that an online catalog could offer a richer and more interactive experience. This was what drove us to move from a printed catalog and go online. It was also part of our sustainability program because it has been a great way for us to save paper while continuing to reduce our carbon footprint.”

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What are you doing to grow your B2B ecommerce business and make the switch to BigCommerce?

KO “We’ve been in B2B ecommerce for more than 15 years. However, we used legacy systems that could only be accessed by very large clients. We were not able to use certain capabilities, and it was extremely expensive to maintain. It was not perfect, but it worked.

“We needed an ecommerce platform that met all our requirements when we compared different platforms. We needed to consider the following: culture fit, product roadmap, total costs of ownership, business requirements. Are we able to see ourselves working with this company for the long-term?

BigCommerce was a state of the art platform that could create a better customer experience and scale globally. That was crucial. The best part is the low cost. That’s why we switched from legacy systems to BigCommerce.

What features are necessary for product fit on an ecommerce platform B2B?

KO “In our case what we really appreciated is the API-first approach. BigCommerce was the core of our ecommerce system . However, it is not a one-size fits all solution. Your ability to seamlessly integrate with other solutions was a great asset.

Could you tell me more about your mobile app and the way you use it?

KO “The mobile app was originally designed to be an inventory finder. Although customers could search inventory online, it is much easier to use a mobile phone if they’re on the move or have someone at their store. The app will tell customers where the distributors are closest to them based on their location. They can then use the app from there to call, email, or request the product.

“Now, there are so many more things you can do with an application, we’re expanding its function to include a swatch scanning option. Customers can scan one of our swatch card with all the colors and fabrics using their smartphone’s camera and find out which styles are available.

“Previously, customers had to consult a table in order to determine the available colors. This feature is something that customers have requested for a long time and it’s one we are excited about.

How do you create a seamless customer experience with all of these sites?

KO. “Returning to your question, BigCommerce was chosen to be the foundation of our digital ecosystem. It houses our DTC retail websites, B2B brands sites, Board of Decorators website, and mobile app. These initiatives should not be separated, but have one experience. BigCommerce is that back-end.

BigCommerce stores all our product information. This means that customers can search on both the website and the mobile app the same way. It’s easier for our internal team to innovate and maintain with one platform that covers every channel.

“Basically, BigCommerce allows us to connect these initiatives in a way that we couldn’t before. No matter where you are on your customer journey, you’ll still receive the same seamless, smooth experience.

Are there any DTC best practices you would like to include on your wholesale B2B site?

KO “We are integrating social media onto the site, so that you can see user-generated content. Social proof is still relevant to B2B, taking a cue from consumer websites. Many DTC practices are beginning to gain acceptance in B2B. We believe there are many important lessons to be learned, even though not all DTC practices work the same.

“We also want to have more two-way conversations, which is something we can’t do in print. Customers can leave feedback via the website whenever they wish. In our FAQ section, for example, it asks if this question was helpful. “Yes or no?”

What advice or suggestions would you offer other B2B businesses going through a digital transformation process?

KO “I would tell any B2B company that when you move your business online, take advantage of the opportunity to be more data-driven. This is something that you can do online, but not offline.

Quantitative data refers to the “what” you can gain from your web analytics. The qualitative data, on the other hand is the “why” that you can get from your web analytics. This can be learned through onsite surveys and feedback. Next, shift your culture to open-mindedness and validate your assumptions.

“Also make sure everyone in your company has access to the wealth of data you collect through online interactions. This could be on your website, social channels, or mobile apps. These insights should be shared beyond your digital team to help you make business decisions.

“I believe that this is key for any manufacturer, because first-party information is something you don’t always possess without direct access to customers. These direct customer insights are crucial for any manufacturer in order to optimize processes and create better products.

Start your B2B Ecommerce Solution with BigCommerce

Are you ready to make the leap and sell online using a B2B eCommerce platform that will help you succeed? Check out . All the features necessary to simplify B2B selling will be found here.

5G will be a key enabler for digital transformation in the public sector

5G will be a key enabler for digital transformation in the public sector

Digital transformation is an important lever for changing the functioning of government. Digital technology is increasingly being used to support government priorities such as increased citizen engagement, better productivity, and stronger economic expansion.

Most governments will soon experience tight budgetary conditions after COVID-19. 5G investments may not be a priority. In the medium and long term, however, 5G will be a key technology infrastructure at both the national and government levels.

Public education and training, government facility management and defense, blue-light and smart city services are just a few of the areas where 5G could be a significant asset to public services. 5G, a general-purpose technology will play an important role in government technology conversion

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  • 5G will set the tone for government tech transformation. 5G rollouts within the public sector are slower than in other sectors. Despite this, 5G’s impact in society and the economy will be multiplied if 5G is adopted by the public sector.
  • 5G is a technology that can be used for many government solutions.. 5G is often used in conjunction with mobile edge computing to enable enhanced mobile broadband, massive machine type internet-of-things communications and ultrareliable, low-latency communications.
  • Many 5G use cases will be defined by public-private partnerships in the public sector. 5G will be driven by ecosystems partnerships between the public and tech vendors, regulators, academic institution, and international institutions.

To be Future Fit, We Need to Move Beyond Digital

Free Forrester WebinarThis is especially important for manufacturers and tech providers that serve manufacturing companies.

European manufacturing companies must become more sustainable to meet changing demands of customers, suppliers, partners and suppliers. While incorporating sustainable technology into your organization is a good place to start, it is equally important to evaluate your products through the lens of sustainability, longevity, and to involve employees, customers and partners in large-scale organisational changes.

This webinar is designed for senior executives in supply chain management, manufacturing, automation, operations and digital office.

The key takeaways

  • Learn how new technologies like the Internet of things, augmented reality (AR), and additive manufacturing (3D printer) can be used to help with both immediate organisational changes as well as long-term sustainable solutions.
  • Instead of traditional silo-based work practices, understand the importance of an ecosystem-based approach for organisational transformation.
  • Learn how manufacturers are changing to be future-fit enterprises, and learn more from industry leaders.

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Covid-19 Accelerates Retail’s Digital Transformation

The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has significantly and, possibly, irreversibly changed the way the retail sector solves complex business and communication issues, increasing dependence on electronic technology.

Retail’s digital transformation, that’s the idea of using new digital technologies to address business performance, has been continuing for decades. Ecommerce is potentially the most crucial retail electronic transformation ever.

Covid-19 has forced retailers to invest more money into new technologies and implement those technologies far faster than otherwise planned.

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Ecommerce Expansion

Possibly the best example of how Covid-19 has quickened retail digital transformation is that the range of brick-and-mortar shops that included ecommerce during the lockdown.

A poll of 200 merchants conducted by Software Advice, a testimonials platform, found that 25 percent of surveyed companies added an ecommerce revenue channel because of the pandemic. The poll, while relatively small, makes the point that retailers who hadn’t yet begun to market online quickly transformed their companies.

Software Advice’s survey found that 50 out of 200 respondents started ecommerce operations because of Covid-19.

Retailers that hadn’t previously taken ecommerce seriously or dedicated much funds to it had been closed and had a way to create cash. What is more, those exact retailers saw reports about the enormous increase in online ordering and wanted to take advantage.

It’s worth remembering that ecommerce has been growing, pre-Covid.

“Ahead of the pandemic, ecommerce sales already represented the majority of overall retail sales growth in america. Some $600 billion in online sales accounted for 56 percent of total retail growth in 2019,” composed Agnes Teh Stubbs at the opening of the aforementioned Software Advice report.

The coronavirus hastened ecommerce’s growth trends significantly.

“U.S. ecommerce penetration jumped to more than 25 percent in April 2020 from 15 percent in year-end 2019, pulling forward a few years of adoption,” according to a June 2020 report by Prologis Research, which also estimated that ecommerce would reach a”penetration of almost 20 percent for 2020 as a whole vs. a pre-pandemic prediction of 16.9 percent.”

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Communications

“Over the past few months, we have seen years-long digital transformation roadmaps compressed into weeks and days to adapt to the new normal as a consequence of Covid-19. Our customers in virtually every industry have been required to recognize new ways to communicate with their clients and stakeholders — from patients to pupils, to shoppers, as well as workers — basically overnight,” said Glenn Weinstein, chief customer officer in Twilio, the text and communication platform.

Weinstein’s comments accompanied the launch of a big digital transformation survey Twilio conducted in June 2020 that included responses from 2,569 decisionmakers in enterprise-level companies globally.

The poll found that, normally, Covid-19 had hastened businesses’ strategies to implement new communications systems and stations by about six years across all businesses addressed and a few 6.1 decades especially for the retail and ecommerce businesses. With 95 percent of the responding businesses looking for new ways to communicate with and engage clients in light of the pandemic.

To deal with this need to communicate and participate, some 35 percent of those companies Twilio surveyed additional live chat, irrespective of business, and 33 percent additional interactive voice response solutions.

All told, Twilio discovered that 70 percent of the retail and pure-play ecommerce companies it surveyed in June had popped up their electronic transformation in communications.

What’s more, when asked about increasing the use of electronic channels already in place because of Covid-19, retailers said they boosted live chat by 52 percent, email by half, video calling by 46 percent, and SMS (texting) by 49 percent.

Supply Chain

“The pandemic has exposed how vulnerable distribution networks throughout the planet are. Many retailers are affected due to their inability to forecast and meet customer demand for their products. Retailers will need more transparency of stock to plan their offline and online client experience,” wrote Vishnu Nallani Chekravarthula, head of innovation with Qentelli, a consulting company, in a May 2020 article in Total Retail.

Supply chain issues throughout the pandemic will almost surely result in new solutions, which in turn, are likely to need a digital transformation.

Small-and-mid-sized retailers might want to warehouse relatively more stock of important products and position that stock closer to customers. This may mean, for instance, that a retail ecommerce SMB that was shipping from one warehouse should add several fulfillment centers across the nation either by incorporating their own warehouses or Dealing with third-parties.

As fulfillment becomes dispersed, companies will need new stock and order management systems.

What’s Next

At the time of writing, some states and cities were rolling back their opening programs, including mask orders, and still suffering from the pandemic. It’s becoming more challenging to envision a v-shaped recovery.

When the coronavirus is a thing of the past, the investments retailers have made in hastening their electronic transformations will still pay off. The companies which become better at communicating and engaging with clients will probably benefit long-term.

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