When Hollywood powerhouse Reese Witherspoon founded her Draper James clothing, accessories, and home apparel line in 2015, it was with the mind to make everyone from from Greenville S.C. to Greenwich, Conn. feel as though they could utter a friendly, “y’all.”
The retail startup was launched, in fact, as a tribute to her grandparents, William James Witherspoon and Dorothea Draper, who taught Witherspoon the ways of gracious Southern hospitality. When it came to style, Witherspoon’s grandmother never left the house without her pearls or wedding ring. And when she drove her white Cadillac it was always complete with the proper driving gloves.
Since its launch, its irresistibly preppy, yet fun dresses, t-shirts adorned with phrases like “howdy” and friendly, power blue gingham stationery have been in wild demand across the country. In this way, Draper James is more than a brand – it’s an experience, promising to bring a touch of that gracious charm and style that is uniquely Southern to even the most hardened Northerner tricked out in its wares.
“We hope you will stop in to see us often—our door is always open,” Witherspoon writes on the brand’s website.
Well, shortly after the launch of its online brand, customers were stopping in and seeing Draper James often. So often, in fact, that it became very apparent that they would like to open actual doors and step into physical spaces where they could shop.
So, Draper James started to plan for growth, seeking to expand from ecommerce to selling items in its own brick and mortar stores, and those of partners like Nordstrom. But the disparate systems Draper James had in place – which included QuickBooks and ApparelMagic and ultimately resulted in a business being run in Excel – held it back.
Without integrated financial, inventory and order management processes, employees spent valuable time rationalizing numbers in Excel to ensure accurate inventory and order timelines. It didn’t leave much time for truly getting to know the customer – and enabling the types of experiences that would allow the brand to live up to its namesake.
Draper James started its journey to enabling innovative customer experiences by ensuring that the most important step was fulfilled – ensuring it had what the customer wanted, when they wanted it, in whatever channel they shopped. That was an imperative made more difficult by the fact that its founder was an internationally acclaimed movie star and producer – and that products could sell out in mere minutes after she was spotted wearing them.
“We really needed to have the unified data to blur the barriers between the channels,” said Melissa Baird, VP of Systems and Procedures for Draper James. “If a customer shopped in the Lexington store, and there was one dress left in the network but it was located in Nashville, we wanted to allow the customer to purchase it on an iPad.”
To get to that point, Draper James had to overhaul its back end systems. By replacing its Excel-based processes with a modern cloud-based system, it can now manage its business across ecommerce, wholesale distribution and brick and mortar channels in a smarter way, maintaining flexible inventory and avoiding stock-outs. Efficient, lean operations allow Draper James to keep a laser focus on listening to customers, detecting patterns and focusing on adding value to the customer journey across its different retail touch points.
The company has recently forged wholesale distribution partnerships with luxury retailers like Nordstrom and Net-a-Porter, and opened brick and mortar stores in Nashville, Dallas and Lexington. The business is headquartered in New York, with a warehouse in Greenville, S.C. and much of its manufacturing done in the South.
“Since we’re so young in our lifecycle, we needed a vendor flexible enough to allow us to morph and grow as a company,” Baird said. “We wanted a good partner for the long run — a like-minded vendor that understood what we were trying to do as we scaled as a company.”
Learn more about how retailers like Draper James are using NetSuite to transform their business.