IBM Expands Cloud Partnership With Shop Direct

Shop Direct taps IBM Cloud to power its effort to personalize services for its retail customers as part of its digital transformation.

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IBM today announced it has signed an agreement with UK retailer Shop Direct as part of the retailer's $70 million plan to redesign its financial services platform, hosting and managing applications through IBM's hybrid cloud model.

The new platform will provide Shop Direct customers with a range of personalized financial services products to help make the retailer's brands even more affordable to customers.

Today's announcement extends the existing digital transformation partnership between IBM and Shop Direct announced last February, which saw IBM Cloud and the company's consulting services help Shop Direct react to shifting customer demands in a mobile-connected, cloud-enabled world. That 10-year, large-scale services agreement moved the digital retailer to a hybrid cloud model.

IBM officials said that deal was a significant milestone in the deployment of enterprise cloud for both Shop Direct and IBM itself.

In announcing its new Personalization Partnership with IBM, Alex Baldock, group CEO of Shop Direct, said, "We already work closely with IBM in areas such as data security and the way we personalize the retail shopping journey. This deal will broaden that relationship as we work with IBM to give Shop Direct groundbreaking capabilities to use our unique understanding and relationship with our customers to offer financial services products tailored to them."

The move to the cloud has already helped Shop Direct provide customers with agile experiences across various digital touch points. The retailer is now working with IBM to provide customers with more personalized service as well as a much more engaging and immersive customer experience.

"Consumers now expect an increasingly personalized and flexible user experience across all of their digital interactions, personal or professional," David Stokes, chief executive of IBM UK and Ireland, said in a statement. "There has been a boom in cloud computing to meet the demands of this marketplace, offering access to unlimited computing power as required and easier ways to process large amounts of information. Cloud is no longer an IT trend. It's driving businesses like Shop Direct forward. The real winner in all this is the Shop Direct consumer as they are being provided with a much more engaging and immersive customer experience through the cloud."

Shop Direct Financial Services is one of the largest non-bank lenders in the UK. The new platform will help Shop Direct build on its successful strategy for cloud technology. Shop Direct will transform its credit offerings and work with IBM to provide customers with a broader set of financial services options, a more personalized experience and more options to self-serve.

Moreover, the new project will separate the Shop Direct financial systems from the retail systems and provide a new financial platform on IBM's hybrid cloud. The platform will help Shop Direct bring together applications and data from public and private clouds and across multiple sources so it can deliver a range of flexible credit product offerings that meet customer needs, respond quickly to new offers that come into the market and launch new credit offerings faster and at better cost. The new financial platform will also streamline processes and enable quicker responsiveness to regulatory changes, IBM said.

Earlier this week, in a similar cloud deal, IBM announced that Chumbak, a large lifestyle products retailer in India, selected IBM Cloud to support its business processes as the company positions itself for accelerated growth.

The retailer said IBM's cloud computing environment will enable Chumbak to better manage its critical data across multiple locations. As part of the agreement, Chumbak will host and run its enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications on IBM Cloud.

Chumbak offers a wide range of products across an assortment of apparel, home and accessories. The company runs more than 40 stores across India and also has large format flagship stores in six cities, IBM said.

"Over the last five years, Chumbak has grown over 300 percent year on year," Rajath Kedilaya, CIO of Chumbak, said in a statement. "As we plan to scale our presence both online and offline, we wanted a technology partner who could support us over the next phase of our hyper growth. The IBM Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, with its unique combination of virtual and bare metal features, has helped us streamline our operations seamlessly."