In a multi-year project, Asics is improving its online ecommerce sites across the globe. Omnichannel benefits, such as consolidated inventory and the ability to quickly make upgrades, are some of the key benefits.

Asics Corp. is in the middle of a years-long plan to shift away from several legacy ecommerce platforms to Salesforce.com Inc.’s ecommerce platform Commerce Cloud. The retailer expects the move will help it more easily alter its ecommerce sites.

Japan-based Asics launched in 1977 with the name ASICS, which stands for Anima Sana In Corpore Sano (the Latin phrase translates to “a sound mind in a sound body”). Over the years it built region-specific websites for each of its largest markets:  North America, Europe, Japan, Australia and South Korea, Kreena Mehta, lead software engineer at Asics Digital, told Internet Retailer at the Salesforce Connections conference in Chicago. That approach made it difficult for the retailer to upgrade site features.

Roughly two years ago it shifted its approach by moving to the Salesforce platform. The change will make it easier to tweak its sites as technology advances and customer expectations change, Mehta said.

“We needed to move in an agile fashion,” she said. “We need to speed up, and that’s the key driver for us.” For example, the change should allow it to bolster its omnichannel features, such as real-time inventory visibility for stores and online, she said. It also plans to deploy buy online pick up in store for the larger regions within the coming years, Mehta said.

The shift is a complicated process because each site is specific to that region. For example, each region offered payment systems local to that region and the retailer sells different products to different regions throughout the year, so it was unable to upload all of its SKUs to each region. “Each region really is a standalone ecommerce business,” Mehta said.

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Asics embarked on this project in October 2017 first with its European region, which encompasses 15 country-specific sites. The retailer started in Europe because it knew it would be challenging and force Asics to think about scalability. Asics wanted to ensure it could reuse its application program interfaces, or APIs, Mehta said.

For example, Asics would need to engineer the system for multiple languages for Europe, something it wouldn’t have to necessarily think about if it had started with Australia. Plus, once Asics thought through that process and started working on its Japan site, it could easily add another language, like English, since it already built up those learnings and APIs, she said.

The European sites launched with Salesforce last October. One of the main benefits with this launch was an employee-facing tablet app for Asics to use in its stores to order products online.

“A main challenge was if a customer was looking [in a store] for a certain product that she saw online, but it was not stocked in the retail store, we would end up losing the sale and not meeting customer expectations,” Mehta said. “The driving force to build an application and deploy it in store was so the customer can browse the online catalog and make use of the online inventory in the store to satisfy expectations.”

Asics has tablets with this app available in 21 European stores, and so far it is producing positive results. Asics attributes 5% of retail sales growth directly to this app in the first quarter, Mehta said.

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Asics’ team then shifted to upgrading its Japan site, which it hopes will launch before the holiday, Mehta said. The North American region will be next, starting in the fall, with Korea and Australia to begin in 2020.

After all the upgrades, Asics expects digital revenue to grow from the improved customer interface and new features; however, Mehta did not share specific goals.

During this process, Asics also built up its technical team from fewer than five people to about 10-12 engineers.

Asics America Corp. is No. 492 in the Internet Retailer 2019 Top 1000. Salesforce has 409 retail clients in Internet Retailer’s Top 1000.

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