Bata Slashes Inventory Update Time by 99% with Automated Fulfillment Powered by Vinculum on AWS
Relying on manual processes for marketing and fulfillment, global footwear retailer Bata found itself unable to keep up with the rapid rise in online orders at the start of the pandemic—and with its own ambitious growth goals. With the help of AWS Retail Competency Partner Vinculum and its Vin eRetail solution powered by AWS, Bata automated these critical processes and integrated its disparate legacy systems into a cohesive technology stack. By focusing its resources on business strategy rather than on time-consuming manual processes, Bata has improved key marketplace KPIs and grown nearly 100 percent in the last year.
Keeping the Pace with Online Orders
Inspiring the world to put its best foot forward since 1894, Bata designs and produces comfortable, stylish, and affordable footwear. Many children start school in a pair of Bata shoes, and brand options range from fashion-forward designs to practical workwear. Bata is the world’s second-largest shoemaker by volume, selling more than 180 million pairs of shoes annually in 5,800 company-owned retail stores. To drive brand innovation, the company produces what it sells through a global manufacturing operation that includes 22 facilities across 18 countries.
Although Bata began to expand its online retail presence in 2018, the company faced significant challenges with being able to rapidly accelerate, scale, and improve its ecommerce and digital experiences at the start of the pandemic. The problem was two-fold: a legacy technology stack made up of disparate systems that didn’t work well together, and a reliance on time-consuming and error-prone manual processes for marketing and fulfillment. As Jasper Anand, IT Director Asia Pacific at Bata Group described it, “We had the brand, we had the catalog, we had the product range our customers were looking for, but we couldn't move as aggressively as we wanted because our systems and processes couldn’t keep pace.”
The lack of agile systems and processes presented a particular problem when it came to order fulfillment. Without an automated system for making inventory available to marketplaces in real time, the Bata team had to manually prepare the inventory lists of items, prices, and quantities and then allocate the inventory to each regional marketplace based on preference or volume. Once the inventory was divided, it was then uploaded manually marketplace by marketplace; in a single country, this could mean three or four separate marketplaces. “This manual upload process could only be completed five times a week, which was simply not sufficient,” said Anand. “The lack of real-time visibility into our inventory caused us to miss SLAs, miss orders, and miss opportunities to grow.”
"Other providers we evaluated required more custom integrations to streamline multiple platforms. Vinculum’s Vin eRetail offered a complete range of functionality we needed in a single SaaS platform."
- Jasper Anand, IT Director Asia Pacific Group, Bata Group
Marketing and Fulfillment that Fits
Realizing its aggressive growth plan relied heavily on a revamped marketing and fulfillment process, Bata began to evaluate experienced retail omnichannel independent software vendors (ISV). While Bata looked at many companies with strong capabilities, Vinculum, an AWS Retail Competency Partner, offered a winning combination of marketplace integration, order orchestration and fulfillment, and warehouse management capabilities in one solution to help Bata vastly improve its brand experience. “Other providers we evaluated required more custom integrations to streamline multiple platforms,” noted Anand. “Vinculum’s Vin eRetail offered a complete range of functionality we needed in a single SaaS platform.”
Stepping into Integration and Automation
Although choosing Vin eRetail meant not having to integrate separate retail management solutions, the platform still had to be integrated with Bata’s legacy ERP system and brand website, as well as with its marketplaces and webstores. Built on AWS, Vin eRetail includes out-of-the-box integrations to more than 150 of the leading webstores and marketplaces, and the Vinculum team was able to quickly integrate Vin eRetail into Bata’s marketplace. Vinculum’s pre-integrated i-adapters automatically push Bata’s catalog to its marketplace and then bring orders back into the system for fulfillment.
More work was required to integrate Bata’s legacy ERP systems. In the integrated solution, master financial and sales transaction data from the legacy system is automatically brought into Vin eRetail, where it is used throughout the order process. Once an order is fulfilled, the transaction is closed, and the data flows back into the legacy system. Similarly, the Vinculum team created an integration with Bata’s front-end platform, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, to seamlessly orchestrate orders and returns. “Although there were quite a few integration touchpoints across this project, we were able to complete it in only two months,” said Deepak Singla, Co-Founder and Head of Sales Strategy at Vinculum. “Because Vin eRetail is a SaaS product, it’s our responsibility to maintain those integrations, which comes in handy for customers like Bata that sell on multiple marketplaces or multiple platforms.”
Because Vin eRetail is powered by AWS, Vinculum’s solution for Bata takes advantage of several key AWS cloud products. Using direct integration, Vin eRetail connects seamlessly with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). This enables rapid reporting, in which all exports are uploaded by default on Amazon S3, and links to downloadable reports are automatically shared with the Bata team. Amazon ElastiCache also boosts performance by slashing the time it takes to boot up screens and delivering faster responses to Vin eRetail integrations.
As a retailer with fluctuating sales volumes, Bata required a highly scalable solution it could power up or down as sales demand. Vin eRetail uses Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (Amazon EC2) instances for running applications, which auto-scales to smooth the user experience during times of unpredictable loads. Amazon EC2 also makes it simple to configure security, storage, and networking on those instances.
"Vinculum enabled us to improve on key marketplace KPIs, such as order cancellation and time to fulfillment, where we knew we had a big opportunity for growth. We are seeing satisfying results now and working on even more improvements, such as click-to-connect and same day delivery in certain countries."
- Jasper Anand, IT Director Asia Pacific Group, Bata Group
The Path to Improved Customer Satisfaction
Based on the success of the initial Vin eRetail implementation, the project was expanded to include three additional locations. Central, real-time inventory for these locations is now automatically pushed to all relevant marketplaces every 15 minutes, reducing data update wait times by nearly 99 percent. “This is a huge gain for us. By centralizing and automating orders on one global platform, Vinculum’s retail solution has given us full visibility into our Digital Warehouse operations and significantly improved our inventory process,” said Anand.
Vin eRetail has also produced gains for Bata’s customers. “Vinculum enabled us to improve on key marketplace KPIs, such as order cancellation and time to fulfillment, where we knew we had a big opportunity for growth. We are seeing satisfying results now and working on even more improvements, such as click-to-connect and same day delivery in certain countries,” Anand said.
“By bringing automation into the process, we’ve made Bata’s operations more efficient, which will help them grow,” added Singla. “When you add that to the scalability and security of AWS, you have a solution that helps retailers sell faster and fulfill faster.”
Racing toward Opportunity
Bata’s business has grown significantly since the launch of Vin eRetail, prompting the company to move from Vinculum shared SaaS to dedicated hosting. This move also supports Bata’s current IT modernization plan, which includes major projects in Indonesia and Thailand to implement Vin eRetail as the dedicated order management system. Once those projects are completed, Bata will turn its attention to improving the experience for in-store shoppers by extending its wider catalog to its retail locations.
“We want our resources to focus on our business strategy, not on day-to-day transactional processes,” concluded Anand. “Automating our operations has freed the resources we need to turn opportunities into sales.”
Published May 2022