The digital imperative

Kiabi’s success is based on a visionary digital transformation. Seeing their marketplace on the cusp of disruption—due to accelerating technological advances, increased competition from web-based start-ups, and newly connected and empowered consumers—the company saw a strategic advantage if they could deliver a seamless and compelling omni-channel customer experience. The key to it all would be to create greater connections: Integrating devices, applications, networks, content, channels and interactions.

A tall order on its own, executing this vision was particularly difficult because of Kiabi’s consistent growth of nearly 9% annually. Many of their new customers were Millennials, a group unlike anything the company had encountered before—constantly online, in-touch, and communicating. Kiabi’s legacy systems simply couldn’t keep up, their website slowed to a crawl, and their data was riddled with errors. IT had to align to the company’s business functions—and fast—for Kiabi to turn themselves into the omni-channel business they had envisioned.

Love at first integration

From the moment Kiabi saw how the Digital Business Platform allowed them to visualize and re-structure their processes, and speed up and extend their customer contact, they knew they’d chosen the right partner to realize their vision. The independent platform would enable them to be service-oriented and event-driven, increase their flexibility, and make changes to their systems without downtime or making compromises.

“The Digital Business Platform gave us the power to drive the changes we needed in our e-commerce business, to deliver greater value to customers, and to respond to the future demands of our customers as they arise. The project was up and running in just a few days—and on our own terms!”

— Christophe Alie | CIO, Kiabi

The most pressing need was to overcome a 40% increase in data volume and a laggy website. So in 2012, Kiabi implemented Terracotta In-Memory Data Fabric, Software AG’s in-memory data platform. By keeping databases loaded in memory rather than on traditional hard-drive servers, Kiabi reduced web page load-time by 300%, from 3.6 to 1.2 seconds. The platform was adopted in months, and had an immediate impact on revenue as digital natives, easily frustrated by delays, were no longer abandoning their online shopping carts.

In addition, by linking all of their retail channel experiences through a single, unified platform, Kiabi saw its online revenue skyrocket to €130 million a year.

Omni-channel demands omnipresence

Kiabi took the next step just two years later with a full transition to omni-channel retailing. To do this meant digitalizing all their processes, and building a system agile enough to respond to the behaviors of their Millennial customers.

“Co-innovation is the key to our success and with Software AG as a partner we worked together to exploit the opportunities we knew existed, but lacked the technology to capitalize on.”

— Christophe Alie | CIO, Kiabi

This meant targeting customers who hopped from trend to trend faster than their predecessors, and who made purchasing decisions based on convenience and price. Personalization and real-time price and availability comparisons via mobile were the name of the game.

Kiabi needed an end-to-end chain for integrating and connecting applications, and the ability to add features on the fly. They also needed to get products to market more quickly. Cue: Digital Business Platform integration connecting several IT applications.

Acting as an integration layer, webMethods Integration and webMethods API Management enabled different systems storing, editing and distributing data to communicate with one another—without developing data flows or point-to-point connections. And thanks to Terracotta BigMemory, it could happen faster than ever before.

“The simplicity and speed of the webMethods APIs let us build an app for retail staff to check inventories with hand-held devices quickly. It literally changed how we operate at the lowest possible level.”

Using webMethods API Management meant Kiabi was able to assemble and update internal applications twice as quickly as it had in the past.

Even Kiabi’s external relationships benefited. Since B2B partners like suppliers were now able to seamlessly and securely access data that Kiabi earmarked to share with private API keys—new B2B connections that used to take up to four months to set-up were now being enabled in as little as a week.

No wonder that just a year later Kiabi brought ARIS Business Process Analysis into the fold. They needed to increase process agility, reduce implementation times and increase process efficiency—and ARIS was the perfect fit.

IT project managers couldn’t believe it. Suddenly they were shaving three weeks from the lead time of half-year projects by using ARIS BPA to share holistic views of customers, products, processes, and suppliers. IT and the business were on a winning trajectory. Kiabi’s CIO was a hero. But for him the decision had been a no-brainer:

“Unlike the alternatives, Software AG’s platform was the only one that provided all five of Kiabi’s requirements: business and IT transformation, in-memory data, integration, process, and analytics & decisions. This eliminated the risk of inconsistencies right from the start, and greatly simplified support.”

Today Kiabi is more agile than they’ve ever been, both internally and externally. They have just been ranked third in the “2017 Great Place to Work,” seeing them placed for the forth consecutive year.

Their independent platform offers endless possibilities. And their customers? They’re happy right where they should be—at the center of Kiabi’s attention.