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Luxury retailer taps Wal-Mart CIO amid customer analytics push

Clint Boulton | Oct. 14, 2015
Looking to upgrade its technology platforms, including SAP enterprise software and HANA customer analytics, British fashion retailer Burberry recruited Walmart Asia CIO Fumbi Chima.

Burberry sees tremendous opportunity on the customer analytics front, according to a preliminary presentation regarding the company's financial results ending March 31, 2015. Chief Customer Officer Steve Sacks noted in the report that the company is tracking customer interactions in stores, through digital channels such as online and mobile devices, as well as through social media services. It's also compiling a "single global view of the customer," which includes what customers purchased, with what, and when they purchased from the company; customer browsing activity on Burberry.com; and whether customers interacted with the company via social media, customer service channels, or email marketing campaigns.

Chima’s remit includes helping the company use technology to make sense of this data glut, which could help Burberry refine existing sales channels and boost its conversion rates.

CIO hire hints at Asian expansion plans

Forrester’s Burris says the hire also signals Burberry’s intent to capture more market share in Asia, where the company has been steadily expanding in China and Japan. Chima has spent the past 18 months aligning Walmart Asia’s ecommerce strategy with technology solutions in Hong Kong. “I suspect there is a connection between hiring the CIO for Walmart Asia and the fact that Asia is the fastest growing region of the world for middle class and upper middle class,” Burris says. “They’ve found a CIO that knows how to make retail work in Asia … and this may be another way for Burberry to extend its operations insight about Asia.”

Chima joined Wal-Mart as vice president of corporate application development in 2010. She was promoted to corporate vice president and global head of international integrations in March 2012, and then to corporate vice president of global technology services and strategic partnerships in September 2013, before getting the nod for the CIO role in March 2014. Prior to joining Walmart, Chima worked as CIO of regional global finance at American Express for more than four years, and previously worked as a senior vice president of JP Morgan Chase.

She starts her new role next month, reporting to Burberry Chief Operating Officer John Smith.

 

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