Last year, Swarovski unveiled its new LUXignite strategy, which is designed to consolidate its position in the luxury segment and expand its presence in the fine jewelry market. According to the jewelry and accessories brand, the “Created Diamonds” business is developing particularly promisingly. Swarovski already offers the lab-created, sustainable diamonds to its U.S. customers.
Swarovski says it wants to offer high-quality experiences that draw on the its long heritage in luxury. Particularly, the company wants to make its presence felt in the top cities of this world. After all, that is where trends are created and culture is shaped.
Swarovski is due to open a new flagship store on New York’s Fifth Avenue this year, and with U.S. model Bella Hadid as the current brand ambassador and rapper Doja Cat, Swarovski is very much a part of the cultural conversation. Swarovski wants to enchant customers with unique savoir-faire in creativity, craftsmanship, and quality, which have been perfected in the company’s 128-year history.
Digital as a Key Resource for LUXignite
Digital plays a key role in the implementation of the new LUXignite strategy. Innovation has been in the company’s DNA since it was founded by Daniel Swarovski in 1895. Dr. Lea Sonderegger is responsible for the digital heart of Swarovski today. She started making money programming Web sites while still in school − back then in the Plain Text Editor. Sonderegger has been with Swarovski for 13 years and has held several leading global positions in digital new business development and e-commerce.
Sonderegger first suggested opening a mobile store at Swarovski in 2010. At the time, however, her ideas were met with skepticism. “Today, 70% of visits come via mobile devices, 70% of digital sales are mobile, and in China it’s almost 100%. That was not considered possible at the time,” she comments.
Since early 2022, Sonderegger holds the title of chief digital officer/chief information officer (CDO/CIO) and, as a member of the international Executive Committee, she is responsible for the global digital business, global IT, and data and analytics.
New Way of Leading and Teamwork
“Today, we live in a time of digital Darwinism,” she says. “A time when technology and society are evolving faster than companies are able to adapt.” As a result, she says, it is crucial to respond quickly, strategically, and pragmatically to innovations. “The new era also requires a new kind of leadership and teamwork,” she adds.
In her CDO/CIO role, it is important to Sonderegger that IT no longer thinks in terms of modules and software solutions as it used to, but in terms of creating value. “IT is no longer just an enabler, and technology no longer a pure means to an end. IT must optimally support the core company processes – create, make, and sell – and generate value itself. Only in this way can digital become a competitive advantage,” says Sonderegger.
At Swarovski, the digital leaders plan their strategies together with the functional heads. “So that we all row in the same direction,” says Sonderegger. After all, the technologies are only as good as the people behind them. That is why their ability to use data and technologies to create value – the human “digital dexterity” – is a pivotal pillar of Swarovski’s digital strategy.
“Entrepreneurial thinking in every little action is the key to success,” Sonderegger claims. The fact that she is also responsible for the profit and loss of the global e-commerce business in her CDO/CIO role ignites the digital transformation strategy with entrepreneurial spirit.
40 Years of Partnership with SAP
Swarovski has embarked on the path of cloud transformation to remain competitive. In doing so, Sonderegger is building on a long-standing relationship with SAP. In fact, the family-owned company from Wattens in Tyrol, Austria still has an old contract it signed with SAP 40 years ago. “The signature of SAP Founder Hasso Plattner is under the contract,” says Sonderegger. At that time, Swarovski bought “RF – Real-Time Financial Accounting.” It was the beginning of a long and successful partnership.
“This journey, which began 40 years ago, connects us,” says Sonderegger. In the next chapter, SAP will work with the heritage brand on the next stage of its digital transformation, supporting its global expansion and diversification with technological innovation in terms of products and customer experience.
To achieve this goal, Swarovski chose RISE with SAP and SAP Commerce Cloud. “We want to move our entire SAP software-based digital backbone and e-commerce landscape to the cloud,” says Sonderegger. Figures that illustrate the scope of the RISE with SAP project include 15 terabytes of productive systems and 17 system landscapes including e-commerce.
“The strategic partnership with SAP is fully aligned with Swarovski’s LUXignite strategy. We need a scalable platform to develop and operate competitive business processes,” says Sonderegger.
Technical Innovation as a Competitive Advantage
RISE with SAP offers Swarovski the future-proof digital basis for the implementation of its own cloud strategy and the flexible and secure support of innovations in the cloud. “With our cloud transformation, we are able to not only support the LUXignite strategy; we are also able to increase our efficiency, reduce costs, and become much more flexible through the model agreed with SAP,” says Sonderegger.
SAP Commerce Cloud will also help support unique customer experiences across all channels. This is because omnichannel sales are important for Swarovski. Many customers shop online but pick up their purchases in the store or use the “endless aisle.” This way, customers have the option to buy in store what is not available on-site. Ordered immediately online, the products are delivered to the customer’s home in few days.
“We want to bring the latest customer experiences and features through the cloud. Because our customers are our queens, we must ensure they receive the best possible service,” says Sonderegger. “Their experience with the brand and the products must be perfect in all respects. For this, we need the right technology and, of course, the right people behind it – people who understand how to create value for our customers and our company.”
Photo courtesy of Swarovski