Edgewell Sharpens Its Focus on Digital TransformationBy Samuel Greengard
Making the leap to a digital enterprise is no simple task. It involves myriad technologies and enormous changes in business processes. Along the way, more than a few companies have found themselves overwhelmed by the task.
At Edgewell Personal Care, a $2.4 billion global corporation with brands like Schick, Wilkinson, Banana Boat, Hawaiian Tropic, Stayfree and Playtex, the need to take the business into the 21st century was nothing less than critical. "We face growing competition from new channels and major retailers such as Amazon and Alibaba," says Tony Bender, CIO and VP of Global Business Services for Edgewell Personal Care.
About 60 percent of the company's business is in North America, and the rest takes place internationally. So, the company's focus on digital transformation had to occur both in the global marketplace and online. "We were facing a situation where things were changing. A lot of products traditionally sold in brick and mortar stores are now available online. Subscription-based models have also emerged. We had to ensure that we have a solid position globally and that we could transition to direct e-commerce with minimal challenges and disruptions," Bender explains.
About two-and-a-half years ago, Edgewell separated from Energizer Holdings. At the time, senior executives recognized a need to take the company's e-commerce strategy to a new level. The company selected SAP's Hybris Commerce to build a foundation for business-to-business and direct business-to-consumer capabilities. In May 2017, the company rolled out an e-commerce site that allows consumers to order products directly from Edgewell. The initiative encompasses North America, Europe and Asia through the company's Shickhydro.com website. "Making the transition from a manufacturing company to a retail company and selling products through a subscription model was a very complex undertaking," Bender says.
At the heart of the initiative was creating a storefront, marketing products, managing inventory and handling fulfillment. The company had to address issues ranging from credit card authentication to third-party logistics. Edgewell also had to develop a system to accommodate returns. "We really had to focus on how to care for the customer from end-to-end. We had to take a customer lifecycle approach," Bender explains. This, in turn, required sophisticated analytics capabilities, including metrics like click-through rates. It was a complex undertaking that took about nine months to complete, he says.
Edgewell went live with the SAP Hybris Commerce system in May 2017. In addition to a website storefront, customers can make purchases through a mobile app. Bender admits that because it was the company's first direct-to-consumer experience, it was a test-and-learn situation. "But we've already made significant progress in terms of sales and how customers are responding." The company is now eyeing the global marketplace. "The goal is to scale and deploy the e-commerce capability quickly for any given market," Bender says. "We now have enterprise strength e-commerce capabilities that are suited for today's business environment."
The biggest challenges revolved around designing and optimizing the site to deliver a highly appealing experience. "We really had to rethink things from the ground up," Bender explains. Ultimately, Edgewell turned to a systems integrator to ensure that all the IT systems were connected correctly and the e-commerce capability worked seamlessly. However, the initiative also required the firm to redesign consumer packaging for online sales and completely revamp marketing efforts.
Concludes Bender: "We really had to think about how to drive traffic to the site. An e-commerce initiative isn't only about the technical elements involving hardware and software; it's how you inspire the customer to go to the site, interact and buy your products."