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By Retail Technology | Monday September 13 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic led sports giant JD Sports to close many stores in Europe within just a few days and quickly adapt their fulfilment strategy.Here’s how they did it..

JD is now the largest omnichannel sports retailer in the world with over 2,600 stores across 19 countries, and over £6.1B in revenue.

Driven by a customer centric philosophy, it identified the need for an Order Management System (OMS) that could both handle this complexity and make it easy for the business to reuse fulfilment rules and processes across their brands, but still tailor those rules and processes to meet the needs of each individual brand. In early 2017, they chose the Fluent Order Management platform for the job.

The ability to share location and networks, as well as catalogs and inventory across all territories and brands has enabled JD Sports to do cross region fulfillment and cross brand merchandising. The impact on their ability to adapt, as well as on their customers’ convenience and shopping experiences was significant.

Customers are clearly appreciate JD Sports omnichannel offering, resulting in continuous sales growth. This was especially apparent in 2020, a year where most retailers struggled to survive, let alone grow.

Rapid Expansion

Speed was a key factor in JD Sports’ expansion plans. With Fluent Order Management they could create reusable templates for business rules and processes and use them as the base for each new location or brand. The templates were then easily modified to suit each division.

And then, a curveball…

Like many retailers, in 2020, COVID-19 threatened business like nothing had before. With only days’ notice, JD Sports stores across Europe were forced to shut. JD Sports had to adapt its fulfilment strategy, fast.

The close working partnership with Fluent Commerce enabled JD Sports to respond rapidly in the following ways:

Ship from Store

With Ship from Store, JD Sports was able to fulfil orders using stores as delivery depots. This let them move store stock despite closures by turning physical stores into dark stores that could ship goods directly to customers. Critically, Fluent Order Management gave JD Sports total visibility of their entire inventory. It also provided the flexibility to add or remove stores from their distribution network as needed. As a result, stock was released from stores instead of sitting on shelves and growing stale. This led to more sales and more revenue for JD Sports.

Rapid Click & Collect Adjustments

Circumstances around store closures varied greatly by region, country, and city. JD Sports was able to respond quickly. Using Fluent Order Management they were able to turn Click and Collect on or off for individual stores in minutes.This flexibility allowed them to respond to both customer demands as well as a changing trading environment at an unprecedented speed.

Digitised In-Store and Online Returns

While JD Sports saw a large increase in ecommerce sales, it also resulted in more

returns of online orders. To make this process more efficient JD wanted to improve their return process. Using Fluent Order Management, JD Sports was able to implement an automated seamless returns solution. This meant customers could initiate returns online without the need for a printer, and it offered them a better in-store returns experience.

Cross Brand Merchandising

With an increased demand for sporting equipment such as bicycles, JD Sports saw an opportunity. They could sell bikes stocked by one part of their business on the website of another. Because all their stock locations can be shared across all brands, they were able to update their fulfilment logic to support cross brand sales in a matter of weeks. This enabled JD Sports to maximise sales and better meet their customers' needs.

Ready for future growth

JD Sports have adapted their business at record speed and they’re ready for future growth. Using a template driven approach, they can now rollout new brands or regions on Fluent Order Management in just 5 weeks, and rollout Ship from Store in 2 weeks. What’s more, the flexibility of Fluent Order Management means they adapt and refine their fulfilment strategy over time, whatever the future holds.

“By using rapidly scalable and cloud native technology from Fluent Commerce, we were able to maintain customer loyalty and secure customer value during a challenging time. We now have a scalable system which will support our growth, and the flexibility to play the curve ball, wherever it may come from next.” Dan Finley, group multichannel director at JD.




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