CustomerAlexander McQueen
ServiceCloud Automation

Building a sustainable data workflow for Alexander McQueen

Meet Alexander McQueen

Lee Alexander McQueen was a British fashion designer and world famous Couturier. Since his fashion label was founded in 1992, it has continued to strengthen in popularity, aided by garments and fashion pieces being worn by celebrities such as David Bowie, Bjork, Nicole Kidman, Lady Gaga and many more.

For more than three decades, the Alexander McQueen label has been credited as bringing drama and extravagance to the catwalk, pushing the brand to sell more high street lines, such as trainers, perfumes, menswear options and accessories. It is now a globally recognised fashion powerhouse, shipping high-end clothing worldwide and offering exquisite service, through one of it’s many capital city standalone stores.

10 day

Turnaround from manual to cloud automated process.

Business Challenges

As a high-end retailer, Alexander McQueen (AMQ) designs, orders and creates, tens of thousands of individual pieces every year. As they are a British fashion label, a wide majority of their garments, dresses and ensembles are made by hand within the United Kingdom. This means that they have to work with approximately 120 suppliers worldwide, sourcing materials and fabrics to craft the diverse selection of pieces.

This high quantity leads to thousands of requests, internal communications, emails and dreaded – Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. AMQ were looking for a cloud specialist to help build a more sustainable, scalable and efficient data workflow for these supplier communications and garment details.

Why us?

Alexander McQueen has worked with Firemind on numerous cloud projects in the past. This strengthened relationship meant that we remained the number one pick, when it came to partnering with a cloud specialist on this exciting sustainability project.

Firemind has always viewed automation, and the move away from manual and laborious tasks, as being instrumental in the succesful value add (and evolution) of all businesses. We have the specialised team, as well as experience in automations and well architected infrastructures in the cloud, to complete this project quickly.

Firemind took a multiphase approach to enable a more automated, less manual process for AMQ.

Phase one consisted of identifying and understanding the varied templates, forms and datasets in use by AMQ and their range of suppliers. Once identified, we were able to create new templates with more specific inputs and outputs for both supplier administration teams and AMQ’s internal team.

We took their Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and split the one into many, ensuring that each supplier could successfully provide garment costs, weights, eco-details and more, without the confusion of a ‘one-for-all’ style submission. This granularity within form types ensured that each supplier received a form to fill that was custom to their business, not generic. Thus increasing the level of detail and accuracy within submitted fields.

Phase two is where the cloud submission, storage, retrieval and smart automations would kick in. A frontend end user interface was developed to allow the AMQ staff to login and upload their Excel files (in XLSX) format. The files would then be validated and used to update a PostgreSQL database, hosted in Amazon RDS. The frontend website was built to query the database, whether on a schedule, or by user’s request, to generate the supplier reports (in the same XLSX format).

Considering the nature of the document templates (which often included; costs, locations for shipping, storage areas, business names and owner details etc), security within each step was a priority. Each file upload would dynamically generate a pre-signed URL to a secure Amazon S3 bucket. Additionally, all logins for both AMQ and their suppliers would be uniquely authenticated upon every visit by using Amazon Cognito.

These phases combined ensured AMQ could lead a more sustainable business practice, reducing the need for their skilled team to complete necessary, but heavily manual and laborious tasks. The nature of the document types and impact to their suppliers and end products will also have long reaching effects on AMQ’s continued product sustainability, ensuring the end product for their global customers is sourced ethically, shipped in an environmentally friendly way and with minimum impact to local environments.

Added value

Alexander McQueen needed to stop committing valuable resource to complete laborious tasks. They knew that automation and a ‘smarter’ use of cloud technology, specifically Amazon Web Services (AWS), would save their team time, reduce the headache of updating thousands of rows and columns in Microsoft Excel, and also free their customers to spend less time submitting templates. Firemind were delighted with the success of our cloud process, in partnership with AMQ, and know this simple, but important cloud automation, will lead to many new and exciting modernisations within their workflows.

3 to 1

Reduction in internal resource needed, as the automation removes significant manual steps.

Time well spent

As with most of our customer projects that revolve around automation, AMQ wanted to let their team work on more important projects, rather than focusing on necessary, but laborious manual tasks. With this solution in place, their team could do just that. Effectively turning a three person job into a more relaxed one person checkover once a quarter.

Secure and scalable

As AMQ enhance their product line and diversify further, they’ll have the option to add more and more suppliers, avoiding any risk of congestion or cloud cost overpricing, as their data scales and grows with their business and number of access requests.

Maintenance and support

This new infrastructure is, like all others, built to the highest standard, using the latest tools and services that Amazon Web Services (AWS) have to offer. For AMQ, this ensures a more managed, supported and well maintained cloud infrastructure – forever.

Client Satisfaction

“Excellent project management and high quality deliverables. Firemind was able to resolve our needs under tight deadlines and the team was also flexible with the final deliverables. I look forward to continuing to work together in the future.”

Dania Sauza

Sustainability Manager - Alexander McQueen

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