Harry Rosen, Canada’s leading luxury menswear retailer, prides itself on the strong relationships it’s built with customers since 1954. In each of the 17 stores across the country, Harry Rosen associates have long built trust with shoppers by offering one-on-one personalized, concierge-like service, and experience.
As legendary as Harry Rosen’s in-store experience has been, until recently, its online channel had yet to be integrated or modernized — an initiative which was initially projected to be a multi-year undertaking. But the pandemic quickly upended those plans and instead inspired leadership at Harry Rosen to reexamine its digital transformation roadmap and timeline.
The vision for Harry Rosen’s digital transformation was rooted in its brand points of difference — impeccable service combining deep product knowledge with personalized styling advice — and earning customer loyalty over time by delivering on that promise. For Harry Rosen, bringing the vision to life meant creating seamless, connected offline-to-online experiences.
This proved to be a tall order on their legacy ecommerce platform, where modifications were costly, complex, and took too long. Even presumably straightforward upgrades like adding an additional payment method, required a few months of development time and great expense. Further, site performance was challenged during peak sales periods, resulting in lost revenue and disappointed customers. These constraints were exacerbated by the inability to adapt to evolving customer needs due to platform limitations.
Bringing personalized advice and curated looks to life online called for a flexible, open architecture that would allow the brand to weave technology solutions together — including content, search, loyalty, commerce capabilities, and more. Turning to headless commerce and curating a modular tech stack was an obvious choice.
Headless commerce experiences enable business leaders to select “best of breed” partners and stitch these services together, with individual components accessible via APIs. Harry Rosen also recognized the value of limiting the number of solutions they worked with, ultimately aiming for a lean and manageable tech stack.
The other reality taking hold in Spring 2020 was the impact of the pandemic and resulting store closures or limited hours on retailers. As store traffic plummeted, the digital experience became the first customer touchpoint for all shoppers. The availability of preferred payment methods online, the level of personalization applied to the digital experience, and the ease of buy online pick up in store (BOPIS) was now setting the tone for the overall brand experience. The commitment of Harry Rosen to pivot immediately to empower staff, and move swiftly to begin their digital transformation was evident. Together with their agency partner, Myplanet, the replatforming timeline to headless ecommerce platform commercetools, was compressed from to six months from the initial nine to twelve month plan.
"The biggest driver of the decision to move to headless commerce was whether we could forecast ourselves growing out of another solution or growing into a more flexible, agile commerce ecosystem. I think we really believe in the idea that headless commerce is going to allow us to think elegantly about the customer journey and what we didn’t want to do is focus on a platform that met our needs today but that we were turning into a Frankenstein."
Harry Rosen began bringing its vision to life: architecting one of the most personalized omnichannel customer experiences in the retail industry. The phased unveiling began with accelerated first steps to connect in-store and online experiences while reimagining the role of checkout — both of which would prove critical in unlocking revenue opportunities during Covid-19 and beyond.
In architecting a new tech stack, Harry Rosen recognized the importance of a high performing, flexible checkout to deliver their omnichannel vision at scale. They identified the role of checkout going far beyond transacting payment. Instead, it would deepen the opportunity to create a convenient, frictionless experience that serves as the foundation of some of the retailer’s most mission-critical operations and value propositions.
As a first step — and to meet the compressed time to market requirement — Bold Checkout delivered a customizable, high-converting solution for Harry Rosen with an optimized single-page checkout flow styled seamlessly for a branded experience. It incorporated multiple payment methods as well as custom plugins to allow for gift cards and loyalty points as payment.
"Bold helped us get to market quickly with a high-converting, stable checkout that processes transactions really quickly. We had zero downtime over peak which is a huge competitive advantage. It provided stability. It helped me sleep at night."
Shortly after launch, Bold provided additional APIs to rollout a more elegant and user-friendly BOPIS experience, enabling logic within Bold Checkout to hide and substitute fields, directing the user experience based on selections and inventory availability. BOPIS has now become a fundamental delivery option for retailers, with convenience contributing to increased conversion, along with upsell opportunities at pick up. The service gained immediate traction for Harry Rosen and climbed to 20% of online orders picked up in store during peak holiday season. In addition, BOPIS capabilities enabled Harry Rosen to begin to optimize inventory investment by location.
Personalized shopping experiences across all channels are now also available, and in ways that go well beyond what has been achieved by other retailers. Clothing Advisors create curated looks based on known customer needs, occasions and preferences, and send hand-picked selections to their individual clients as part of an expanded web experience. With customer profiles integrated into the online experience, shoppers are able to buy exactly what their stylist planned for them, down to the size and color, adding all selections to cart with just one click — rather than having to select each item individually, indicate their preferences and input shipping and payment information. Bold Checkout powers this custom, more intuitive, and personalized checkout experience.
Delivering improved customer experiences wasn’t just limited to online channels, but also extended through to stores with the integration of Bold Checkout directly into Jesta I.S., Harry Rosen’s ERP. Previously, online orders shipped from multiple locations needed to be processed through multiple return transactions in store, leading to lengthy waits and impacting the customer experience. Jesta enhanced their system to handle multiple ecommerce returns into the same transaction and then integrated back to Bold Checkout to retrieve the information for the return.
"What once took 15 minutes for a complex return in store now literally takes a minute. It’s hassle-free and contactless, processing the return back to the original method of payment, along with real-time system updates to reconcile inventory. It’s just such a nice elegant process at the point of sale — a great experience for our clients."
Harry Rosen continues to innovate and adapt to changing customer needs, and doing so with the agility to test and experiment in ways that were never possible on their legacy ecommerce platform. Next steps include new payment methods that cater to their customer’s preference for specific global digital wallets, along with installment payments which can boost conversion on high-priced items. For Harry Rosen, their commitment to legendary service fuels continuous innovation across the customer journey, and their modular technology stack provides a much more efficient and effective ability to integrate and evolve.
"Fast-tracking speed to market with a pre-optimized checkout solution from Bold, and moving just as quickly to further improve performance through additional integrations and customizations, has not only delivered immediate value, but given us incredible extensibility that reaches far into the future."
Harry Rosen continues to prove that refinement is a timeless approach, curating one of the most sophisticated, personalized omnichannel customer experiences in the retail industry. Powered by Bold Checkout, the retailer reported record online sales growth and stable, consistent performance even through peak season. In fact, Harry Rosen surpassed its online Boxing Day Event sales target before noon with no degradation in service from the spike in orders.
Further, Harry Rosen is now acquiring new customers to the brand with a digital-first experience that measures up to the legendary service standard of Harry Rosen. The ROI on Advisor-assisted shopping has become immediately evident: online sales generated from Clothing Adviser relationships grew from 3% to 15% in the fourth quarter. Additionally, more than 20% of the company’s sales are now through digital channels, compared to approximately 5% in 2019.
While many retailers experienced a lift in online conversion rates spurred on by in store shopping restrictions during pandemic lockdowns, Harry Rosen’s online conversion rates have doubled year over year with their new tech stack in place.
"Achieving record results through peak season was validation of all the hard work that our team, together with our partners, had put into the transformation. The combination of improved search, catalog and content enhancements, advanced personalization, and an optimized checkout elevated the experience, and our customers responded."
Harry Rosen worked with various partners to initiate a transformation that leverages the benefits of headless commerce. With Myplanet as their agency partner, they assembled the “best of need” solutions to fit their business goals, including Amplience as their CMS, Algolia for search, Bold Commerce for their checkout experience, and others, all integrated into API-based headless commerce platform commercetools.
"Previously when we were on an all-in-one traditional ecommerce platform, we were putting a lot of time, energy and money into mandatory upgrades to stay current — and really not getting a lot of value out of it. Even small changes were taking six to eight months, and now with this plug and play architecture we are making big moves in two months often with five or six initiatives on the go at any one time. It's night and day compared to where we were."
Harry Rosen had a vision to modernize their tech stack and integrate online and offline operations to deliver better, seamless customer experiences. As the pandemic forced quicker digital change than they expected to roll out in 2020, Harry Rosen understood the new dynamic retailers face to survive and thrive, and understood that when opportunity knocks, the door has to open.
"We will come out of this with more consumers who are introduced to our brand on a digital basis first and will shop with us in different ways, and we are excited to continue to reimagine what that journey looks like for the shopper, and to deepen customer loyalty in the process."