With colorful caps stacked floor to ceiling, Lids has recently celebrated its 25th anniversary as “the hat store in the mall.” Approximately 1,100 retail shops cater to sports fans and fashionistas alike with an endless variety of caps and other official licensed fan gear, including jerseys that aren’t available anywhere else. A recent acquisition added another 80 shops, bringing Lids closer to its goal of having at least one shop in every mall in the United States. The acquisition also offered a chance to reevaluate the technology solutions that were powering the enterprise, from supply chain to financials to the front of the store.
Duct Tape and Rubber Bands
For more than two decades, the company had built a patchwork of siloed solutions to support different parts of the business. “We’ve always been a duct-tape-and-rubber-band kind of company,” said Chief Financial Officer Nick Corthier with a laugh. “When you keep tweaking and stacking on new tools, it gets to be inefficient.”
Coming under new ownership was a chance to rethink all of its technology. “Our first priority was to find a financial solution that would offer growth and the ability to integrate with multiple products,” Corthier said. As the company began the process of overhauling its financial solution, it entered into talks with Blue Horseshoe, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network based in Indianapolis with a strong local reputation.
Blue Horseshoe suggested that Lids think more holistically to consider the growth potential and data-driven insights offered by Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance combined with Dynamics 365 Commerce. “We were excited to learn about how we could connect multiple systems,” Nick Corthier, CFO
After 20 years of constantly reconciling the data from siloed solutions in different parts of the business, Lids was ready for a single version of truth that aligned the sales system, buying merchandising system, and general ledger. “We’re very excited about the opportunity to find something that works with not only different software solutions throughout the company, but different solutions within the store,” Corthier said.
Personalized Experiences Through Technology
Having a modern point of sale (POS) solution is not only part of the fashion-forward image the store projects to its young customer base, it’s also important for recruiting and retaining the best sales talent. “Our greatest assets are our store employees and managers,” Corthier said. “They care about the POS, and they want technology. When they walk into the store and see something that’s not a touchscreen, they kind of disconnect.”
We want to make sure that we can adapt and move. That’s what Dynamics 365 Commerce brought to us from the get-go: an opportunity to make sure that we could take something well into the future" - Nick Corthier, CFO
Dynamics 365 Commerce is the solution that powers the entire POS, including platform-agnostic mobile capability that can work on most handheld devices. A mobile POS untethers employees from behind the counter, allowing them to offer more seamless customer service from the floor. With so many product variations available—a single Yankees hat might come in 14 sizes and 30 different colors—transactions are smoother when the employee can work with a customer and look up what’s in stock right from the floor.
Ready for What’s Next
Lids has worked closely with Blue Horseshoe and Microsoft to make sure the solution suite meets its needs. “Nothing is out of the box in retail, and Microsoft has been very willing to listen to us and help us find what works for our business, whether that’s implementing our customer loyalty program or finding the right setup for our SKU count,” Corthier said. “And because we were already using Teams, we were able to keep moving this project ahead when everyone went remote without missing a beat.”
Tom Ripley, Chairman and CEO of Lids, has been personally involved in the decision-making process, as he sees today’s technological decisions as “the gateway to the future” of the company. The full rollout of the POS is slated for February of 2021, with the goal of being fully operational for the next holiday season. At the same time, Lids is moving forward with a data migration to Azure. The company is also planning to integrate Microsoft Power BI to gather more actionable insights from its data.
“We want to make sure that we can adapt and move,” Corthier said. “That's what Dynamics 365 Commerce brought to us from the get-go: an opportunity to make sure that we could take something well into the future.”