AOKI swiftly launched new subscription business "suitsbox" with CI&T and Magento
AOKI, one of the leading suits & fashion retail chains in Japan, is a company that embraces continuous innovation. With its nationwide store network and vertical merchandising system, AOKI offers a wide variety of business wear and accessories covering the needs of a wide range of age.
Having seen the disruptive and exponential growth in the subscription services market and the cultural changes in what customers value as seen in the recent share economy market, AOKI identified the opportunity to develop and operate an online platform for renting its business wears as a monthly subscription to young elites in Japan. For such a challenge, they reached out to CI&T to understand how Lean Digital could deliver the productivity and collaboration needed to turn the business idea into a reality.
Given its strong end to end digital capabilities, CI&T was quickly chosen as the service design and technology partner after the initial consultation.
Develop a cloud-based subscription platform that enables young elites in Japan to rent business wear in full set for their day-to-day work as well as special occasions.
AOKI was committed to utilize a cloud solution to launch suitsbox by the end of April 2018. Multiple platforms were assessed for their compatibility for this challenge. To ensure the successful launch in a tight schedule, CI&T proposed and brought Magento Commerce Cloud as the key platform for this solution, which vastly contributed with its reliability and versatile out-of-the-box features.
Magento’s standard features such as order, product and customer management along with its modern back-office interface enabled CI&T teams to touch the ground running, immediately focusing on the customizations needed for the suitsbox platform. Also, Magento extensions' ecosystem were paramount in streamlining the project, especially during the integrations and localisations phase, confirming how mature Magento is even for the Japanese domestic market.
How CI&T executed
Early in the process, CI&T conducted an intense product inception phase with key AOKI personnel, through design thinking workshops and user research, including a crowd-fund market validation. After that, CI&T took the lead on the UX/UI design with a mobile-first approach, followed by implementing the platform leveraging CI&T's Lean-Agile process.
Being a platform fully developed in Magento meets AOKI’s integration demands with Stripe, Salesforce and Amazon Connect. In particular, system integration with Stripe’s payment APIs brought critical payment security, as well as the robust subscription management feature which facilitates a seamless user experience and increases the probability that customers will continue their subscription.
As the project progressed, it became increasingly apparent to AOKI that CI&T’s Lean methodologies were critical to the success of the project. By utilizing Lean, the team was able to have quality code in production within 4 months. Not only was this code being produced, but it had already been through User Acceptance Testing, so AOKI knew the code being produced was exactly what it wanted.
WIth our lean and agile approach supported with project management practice, we were able to lead and collaborate with AOKI to focus on user stories and features that created business value. Also, the bi-weekly scrum schedule made it possible to gradually build up the mobile-first user interface and the back-office capabilities, along with discovering technical challenges and risks that were managed with confidence.
Released in April 2018 in Japan, suitsbox (suitsbox.com) platform carries apparel in different sizes, offering 3 different subscription plans. Renting out an economy box with 1 suit, 1 shirt and 1 necktie costs ¥7,800 a month, for example, and goes all the way up to ¥24,800 for over 10 items. With an additional ¥5,000, customers can get unlimited swaps within the month. Rental prices include shipping, dry cleaning, and ironing of the garments.
CI&T took the lead on the inception, design, implementation and rollout of suitsbox. Cloud services were fully leveraged with Magento at core integrating Stripe, Salesforce, Amazon Connect, and minikura (WMS), which lead to short development time and reliability.
With this program, CI&T’s Lean-Agile process was proven to be highly effective for the new startup-like service development by the Japanese enterprise. AOKI team was able to confirm and test the actual moving site in a bi-weekly period, which enabled the agile and iterative approach necessary for such innovative but still fragile business concept to become a reality.
“We are delighted to introduce this innovation called suitsbox to the suits industry in collaboration with CI&T and Magento. We hope that young business persons and millennial customers will enjoy fashionable and professional attire more easily with suitsbox,”
- Daisuke Naganuma, suitsbox Business Director
Reference link: Press release
Suitsbox was launched successfully with stability. Added was a surprise of advancing the launch date, despite the tight deadline set as a corporate and the complex business requirements and integrations necessary for a subscription service, which includes coordination with product warehousing and shipments.