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NRF 2024: Cole Haan links all channels in-store with unified commerce

Cole Haan is pursuing a unified commerce strategy.

Lifestyle footwear brand Cole Haan is ensuring availability of merchandise for brick-and-mortar shoppers.

In a session at the recent NRF 2024 "Big Show" in New York, Ray Etzo, VP, North America Retail and Michael Hines, VP, Direct to Consumer Digital Technology, Cole Haan, discussed the company’s unified commerce strategy that provides a seamless customer experience across all sales channels and customer touchpoints.

Hines offered a more detailed explanation of how Cole Haan views unified commerce.

"It basically means we are giving customers what they need, when they want it, and the technology that we put together to make that happen, including shipping from store and sale opportunities," said Hines. "If a customer comes into the store, especially now, they certainly don't expect you to say ‘Sorry, I don't have your size. You'll have to go elsewhere."

To support this seamless retail capability, Cole Haan utilizes technology from Aptos, including the microservices-based Aptos One unified commerce platform and iPhone-based POS terminals running Aptos One POS software.

Hines and Etzo also discussed several other store technology topics during the session.

Artificial intelligence (AI): "I think the most important thing that's going to happen in terms of AI as far as stores are concerned is going to be whatever Google and Apple decide to do with the technology," said Hines. "It's not a stretch to imagine that they're going to come out with an AI-powered agent you could ask, ‘What's new for me? What boots are available for me in black in my size? And the agent is going to put all of that together and tell me here’s the store hours, go here. Maybe put stuff for me in my online cart, and hopefully we've gotten unified commerce to the point we can see what's in their digital cart at the store."

RFID: "We tried a pilot when AppleID come out with ability to read RFID directly on the phone for a bunch of operational issues,” Hines said. "It was pretty clunky; not only for us from an operations standpoint, but the customers didn't quite get it. Then COVID-19 hit and then it turned out that the real digital-to-analog interface was QR code. We haven't made any new forays into that area. But if we were to, it would be QR code, not RFID."

Store Experience: "Our philosophy is to enable the employees to create a meaningful experience in store," said Etzo. "We have ongoing strategic meetings. We do three-year planning every six months and lay out our strategic imperatives and tie it to what the company is expecting. Then we look at how do we bring that to life in the store and what's the technology that is going to help enable the process? It starts with a business plan and then the consumer experience plan. And the information technology plan is the device to help bring that to life."

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