Openly client case study: Clarks

How Openly rescued the shoe giant from spreadsheet hell

Clarks is a British family business gone global - and it's still growing. Nearly 200 years after it was founded in Somerset by brothers Cyrus and James Clark, the company has more than 1,000 branded stores and franchises around the world and posts profits of around £150 million a year. Clarks is now the fourth-largest shoe company in the world and the 29th-largest private company in the UK in terms of sales. Not bad for boot seller.

But until Clarks started working with Openly in 2013, its wholesale sales reps were still relying on printed catalogues and Excel spreadsheets to show the shoe ranges to clients. OK, so the catalogues were glossy and the spreadsheets were packed with information, but they were laborious to create and inefficient as a sales tool.

There was, briefly, a Clarks catalogue app. It was a hurried fix for a very specific problem. Several factories were set on fire during 2014's anti-China protests in Vietnam, and Clarks was among the companies affected. Whole stocks of sample shoes were lost. So a basic catalogue app was rushed out to let the team show shoes to clients. The app was slow and didn't work very well, but it bridged a specific gap when needed.

Long term, Clarks needed a digital solution that would not only cover them in such emergencies, but would make their people's jobs easier and enable them to sell more, faster. So they asked Openly to help.

One tap power

We chatted with the sales team and other staff who'd be using our new platform, to understand their frustrations and hear their ideas. They wanted a much better content management system that allowed them to manage all their images, along with a faster, more reliable iPad app.

We took the catalogue data from the existing app and put it on a catalogue server that the team found much easier to access and maintain. Then we created a powerful iPad app that the staff could update with content from the catalogue server. With a swipe of the screen, a sales rep can create a customised list of products their client wants to buy - and then, with one more tap, export it as a PDF for the client.

"It's a better, richer experience for the customer and a lot easier for the team to do," says Openly CTO Rich Summers. "It's much more efficient for the salespeople."

We've now created an API for Clarks, which means we can start producing other apps for other parts of the business. The platform grown into a mature ecosystem that's made a measurable difference to the company's efficiency.

Do you want freedom from the tedious tyranny of spreadsheets and bad apps? Get in touch with Openly for a 15-minute chat

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