About the Company
Levi Strauss & Company (LS&Co.) is one of the world’s largest brand-name apparel companies and a global leader in jeanswear. The company designs and markets jeans, casual wear and related accessories for men, women, and children under the Levi’s®, Dockers®, Beyond Yoga, Signature by Levi Strauss & Co.™, and Denizen® brands. Its products are sold in more than 110 countries worldwide through a combination of chain retailers, department stores, online sites, and a global footprint of approximately 3,000 retail stores and shop-in-shops.
We have a ton of tools. What we needed was a partner. Syniti came with a promise of what they were going to deliver and they delivered."
After nearly twenty years on the SAP Apparel and Footwear Solution (AFS), LS&Co. was looking to implement SAP S/4HANA Fashion management to run both the wholesale and retail business. Looking to unify its operating platform and model, LS&Co. launched a program to deploy the single SAP S/4HANA environment across its global business. The program, labelled “SOLAR”, started with a global template definition phase and has deployed to some of its largest markets. Functional areas of process transformation included finance, order to cash, inventory, management and planning, direct-to-consumer, and wholesale operations.
At the time, LS&Co. had three SAP instances; one for US, one for Europe, and one for Asia, Middle East, and Africa, while other regions operated smaller ERP’s and other non-SAP related systems. To take full advantage of their new ERP, LS&Co. needed to be able to upgrade to the latest release of S/4 regularly, with minimal downtime for the business.
Just as with any large-scale, global data migration, one of the initial challenges can be just figuring out where to begin. LS&Co. decided to start with the affiliate that best represented the global retail operating models, such as wholesale, O&O, concession, commissionaire, or shop-in-shop model. Because this was also one of their fastest growing markets, project timelines were swift, and archaic systems and manual processes had to be sunset quickly.
The infrastructure and data architecture of a fashion retailer such as LS&Co. can also be another major challenge. Perhaps more so than most other industries, fashion and retail have innumerable systems, and complex integrations to consider; there may be WMS at each DC, a retail system, POS, reporting and analytics systems, third party logistics, and so forth.
Fashion retailers juggle a mass amount of material master data, and balancing out what is in these systems against net new products coming in is critical – especially during a multi- phased implementation. This becomes exceedingly complex at the scale global fashion retailers such as LS&Co. experience, where one affiliate alone may easily have half a million materials or more spread across multiple distribution centers, and hundreds of retail sites.
To compound the complexity, master data records are often created up to a year in advance of users transacting against them. This can often increase data quality issues that can in turn affect downstream processes such as purchasing and sales.
LS&Co. partnered with Syniti to migrate various systems to S/4 Fashion globally. And while data volumes, materials data, and large swaths of legacy systems were an obvious challenge, no aspect of the migration could disrupt operations or revenue. Go-lives had to be planned with high traffic sales periods and financial or go-to-market calendars in mind to allow internal teams enough time to ramp up in the new system. Migration efforts must be aligned with the current materials data management system so as not to affect the global use of materials coming from those systems.
Syniti’s best practices and repeatable methodology also allowed LS&Co. to successfully upgrade to the latest version of their SAP instance throughout the entire migration. For example, by applying minimal customizations to the SAP system, but instead optimizing the existing, default functions, upgrades can be done as frequently as needed.
The complexity and scale of LS&Co.’s multiple migrations required an implementation partner willing and able to roll up their sleeves and produce real impact. “We have a ton of tools,” observed Chris Conrad, SVP & CIO at LS&Co. “What we needed was a partner. Syniti came with a promise of what they were going to deliver, and they delivered.
Syniti’s team of data experts played a crucial role in the success of LS&Co.’s immense, multi-year digital transformation initiative. They have been a trusted partner and we’re thankful for their support.”
Despite its many complexities, Syniti successfully implemented LS&Co.’s multi-year, multi-phase migration project on time and under budget. The globally deployed cloud environment, hosted through SAP RISE, has provided new benefits and capabilities around harmonized processes, standardized data, and the ability to view retail and wholesale inventory in one place.
“Syniti’s team of data experts played a crucial role in the success of LS&Co.’s immense, multi-year digital transformation initiative,” said Conrad. “They have been a trusted partner and we’re thankful for their support in this project which is critical to delivering new business efficiencies and data insights.”