Running core applications and infrastructure support for a leading UK fashion retailer

Driving digital transformation in retail

| minute read


  • Supporting the transition from traditional to digital first
  • Combined onshore-offshore delivery model
  • 24/7 IT service and support to manage trading peaks
  • Industry best practice standards, processes and software versions
  • Introduction of ‘predictive’ technologies
  • Focus on continuous transformation improvement

The challenge

Our client a multiband UK digital fashion retailer, was undergoing the biggest transformation in its 140-year history, transitioning from a direct mail-led to digital-first retailer and was seeking a partner to support this strategic direction and to drive business transformation across its multi-channel operations. With major change needed in its IT function, the business also wanted help both with leveraging new technologies and with bringing about the required changes in process and culture. Its aim was to move IT from being reactive to a proactive supplier of services to the organisation in support of the ongoing business transformation.

The solution

A leader in digital transformation, Sopra Steria has been running the retailer’s core applications and infrastructure support service since 2016. Our transformative solution for the retail group combines ongoing IT support that keeps systems up and running day in, day out, along with a focus on growth and continuous improvement enabled by new and emerging digital capabilities. Acting as an IT Service Integration & Management (SIAM) partner for mission-critical customer facing systems, we are responsible for the management of IT service sub-contractors, data centres, servers and mainframes. Alongside the business as usual support (legacy applications and infrastructure), we provide application development, integration and security services.

The results

  • Implemented professional, industrialised processes, instilling a ‘preventative measures’ culture that enables operating risk to be reduced
  • Supported the company’s expansion into new markets by transforming service capabilities with the introduction of ‘predictive’ technologies
  • Used on/off- shore resources to deliver a 24x7 digital service
  • Driven growth by reinforcing the customer’s mission-critical systems and enhancing  existing applications to enable trade on third party marketplaces.

In the highly competitive fashion retail sector, our solution provides the retail group with round-the-clock services enabling it to sell and despatch products 24x7.

How we worked together

Sopra Steria and its customer have worked in a highly collaborative way from the onset of the contract. As a trusted strategic partner, Sopra Steria is driving digital change by advising on and executing an IT strategy that is steering the retailer towards a digital future. In essence, this solution supports the retail group’s entire central nervous system, with Sopra Steria assuming responsibility for operational and commercial systems, de-risking operations to support the retail group’s ambitious growth plans.

Key to this is the support framework Sopra Steria has in place. The size of the Sopra Steria team has doubled to more than 130 since the contract began, with services run largely co-located with the customer, supplemented by two shared services sites in the UK and one in India. Additional change activity support and expertise in retail, security and the SAP Hybris technology are delivered from centres across Europe.

With its entire team encouraged to ‘think as the customer’, Sopra Steria has gained deep insight into the demands of the retailer’s business. This ‘one team’ approach was crucial during two unprecedented events that saw Sopra Steria responding rapidly to relocate people and protect the IT estate during large-scale flooding and the Manchester Arena terror attack.

The benefits 

Being at the heart of the retail group’s strategy and organisation enables Sopra Steria to anticipate change, be agile and deliver a great experience to the retailer and, ultimately, its customers. Having strengthened people, process and technology, Sopra Steria is providing them with a strong team of skilled professionals 24x7, underpinned by a strong service management team.

The solution is propelling the retail group towards its vision of being a digital-first retailer. The business is more agile, responsive and, most importantly, focused on customer experience due to the following:

  • Enhanced existing applications enable trade on third party marketplaces to drive further revenue
  • Reduced operational risk through the introduction of a truly digital 24x7 service model (blended onshore and offshore service) and new innovative technologies, supporting growth into new markets
  • A more stable IT estate due to the implementation of industry best practice standards, processes and software versions
  • A resilient, secure and compliant IT estate enabling demand flexibility and providing disaster recovery
  • An increased support team and coverage, removing single points of failure in the legacy applications support team
  • Reduced incident resolution time through enhanced monitoring and preventative measures.

Looking to the future, Sopra Steria’s ambition for its partnership includes continuous transformation improvement, enhanced monitoring and alerting, more agile ways of working, and the introduction of automation (robotics) in areas such as the Call Centre and Product Sourcing.

This collaborative partnership is pivotal to our business growth strategy. As our trusted digital transformation advisor, Sopra Steria is steering us towards a digital future by advising on and executing a robust and transformative IT strategy, while providing a continuous forward-looking focus. Group Head of IT Service & Infrastructure




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