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CIO interview: How River Island is using cloud to fend off its fast fashion competitors

  • River Island CIO Doug Gardner has shared details of how the high street fashion retailer is using cloud and mobile to improve the in-store experience it offers the nation’s digitally savvy shoppers.
  • The family-owned fashion brand operates around 300 stores, and – like many other bricks and mortar retailers – has spent the best part of the past decade trying to build an online presence that compliments, rather than competes with, the shopping experience customers enjoy in-store.
  • Accordingly, this has seen the size of the technology team at River Island increase from 80 to 90 individuals around six years ago, when Gardner joined the firm, to a high of around 300 people now “It is continuing to grow, and is signalling a dramatic shift that technology is…
  • Gardner described this part of process as “incredibly painful” and “tremendously traumatic”, as the company sought to migrate its traditional, on-premise ERP system to a hybrid cloud setup, ahead of the website migration mentioned earlier.
  • On the back of this, the company resolved to begin the process of replacing its datacentre-based infrastructure by moving to the AWS cloud, and drawing on this to start adopting some of the emerging technologies other digital retailers are building businesses on.

River Island CIO, Doug Gardner, on how embracing cloud, online and mobile devices is driving sales in its high street stores.

River Island CIO Doug Gardner has shared details of how the high street fashion retailer is using cloud and mobile to improve the in-store experience it offers the nation’s digitally savvy shoppers.

The family-owned fashion brand operates around 300 stores, and – like many other bricks and mortar retailers – has spent the best part of the past decade trying to build an online presence that compliments, rather than competes with, the shopping experience customers enjoy in-store.

Speaking to Computer Weekly at the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Transformation Day in London at the end of October 2017, Gardner described the process above as being one of the biggest challenges facing heritage high street brands today.

In the case of River Island and its high street contemporaries, pressure to get this right has markedly ramped up over the past five or so years, as the number of online-only fashion outlets (such as ASOS and Missguided) has grown.

“We’ve always adapted and changed [to what’s going on in the market], and River Island was an early adopter of websites, apps and all of that, but – looking back five, six, seven years ago, no-one was really sure about the impact [online] would make to the business overall,” says Gardner.

“Then these pure-play [online-only] retailers were emerging, born of a new era, and it was apparent the general shift…

CIO interview: How River Island is using cloud to fend off its fast fashion competitors