Established in 1994, Salsa entered the crowded jeans-wear market with a disruptive mission–to design the best-fitting jeans in the world. Twenty-five years later, Salsa is going from strength to strength, and since 2005 they’ve used OutSystems to ensure their IT systems provide the perfect fit for their disruptive business model.
Today, OutSystems is being used to power a collaborative ecosystem that spans design, manufacture, retail, and eCommerce to shorten time to market, drive efficiency and provide Salsa’s customers, not just the best-fitting jeans, but the best customer experience as well.
40% Decrease in Supply Chain Errors
30% Decrease in Out-of-Stock Events
20% Faster Product Time-to-Market
Top Omnichannel Retail Index, 2017 - MHE
“The solutions developed with OutSystems give Salsa more flexibility and agility. They complement and extend our standard software applications and help us work more effectively with our business ecosystem.”
IT for a Fast-Moving Fashion Brand: Off-the-Shelf or Made to Measure?
Challenge - Salsa designs the best-fitting jeans in the world and sells them through a wide variety of distribution channels, including online, over 100 of their own stores and franchises, around 100 department stores and more than 2,000 wholesalers in 35 countries.
Having staked their reputation on providing the best fit for all customers’ shapes and sizes, optimizing stock availability across all stores and sales channels is a critical capability.
Equally, in the fast-moving fashion industry, speed-to-market is a significant competitive advantage. So, Salsa was keen to optimize the entire design, manufacture, and fulfillment process.
In the early days, delivering these capabilities was proving something of a challenge for Salsa’s off-the-shelf software packages. “Our default position is we don’t write software,” says Rui Oliveira, IT Director at Salsa. “If our ERP and retail applications can meet the need without customization, then we avoid bespoke development.”
But Salsa has learned over the years that success depends on collaboration across their ecosystem, and that collaboration often needs a helping-hand, over-and-beyond the out-of-the-box processes provided by packaged software solutions.
Rui explains further, “We try to avoid heavily customizing our SAP ERP and Cegid retail/POS systems. Firstly, such changes are slow and expensive to achieve, and secondly, the cost of ownership can quickly increase when upgrades come along.”
So, Salsa went in search of technology that could help them fill the gaps.
Low-code Proves the Perfect Fit
Solution - Several factors led Salsa towards low-code application development. Flexible integration was a top priority to ensure they could fill the gaps and augment the capabilities of SAP and Cegid Retail Systems.
Moreover, considering that most of their use cases involved streamlining collaboration—between Salsa and third-parties like manufacturers, supply chain partners, and retailers—speed and agility were crucial considerations. The speed and flexibility of low-code would enable Salsa to respond quickly and cost-effectively to the myriad integration requirements of different partners, and their differing software systems.
Given these requirements, OutSystems was the perfect fit for Salsa, and the two companies have been working together since 2005.
Best-Fitting Collaboration Across Salsa’s Ecosystem
Results - Fourteen years later, the systems that Salsa has developed and deployed on the OutSystems platform are integral to their collaborative business model. Here are three short examples of the benefits they are enjoying.
Salsa DNA - Product Lifecycle Management solution
Although Salsa’s ERP system offered extremely powerful PLM capabilities, it was considered too complicated and rigid for use by Salsa’s fashion designers. So, Salsa custom-built their PLM solution on OutSystems, focusing precisely on the creative needs of its designers.
This solution, called “Salsa DNA,” originally went live in 2012 and has continually evolved over the past seven-plus years. That evolution has been crucial to success, as explains Rui. “Salsa DNA is a much more powerful solution today compared to when we started. Iterative development ensured we got closer to the needs of users, and always had their buy-in. A big bang approach would have been high-risk, taken too long, and would have overwhelmed the users.”
Key capabilities of the system:
- Supports the end-to-end collection design and sourcing process, from prototyping, to sourcing, and fulfillment
- Easy to use system is 100% tailored for designers
- Integrated with SAP, and avoids SAP customization
- OutSystems business rules validate all data, to ensure SAP integration never fails
- Supplier portal allows subcontractors to access production orders – eliminating communication effort and delays.
- Reduced time to market
- Eliminated manual SAP data entry and corrections
- Improved timeliness and quality of data
- Improved collaboration across the production ecosystem
Salsa SlsBroker – Franchise Retailer Integration
Around 40% of Salsa’s retail is through a network of “shop-in-shop” franchises, many of which are in department stores. In the past, the lack of real-time POS integration led to frequent stock outages.
Salsa has solved this by building an integration hub on OutSystems, called “Salsa SlsBroker.” Now it is easy and fast to connect any new franchise partner, whatever POS and retail software they use.
Key capabilities of SlsBroker:
- Transform partner’s POS sales data into a standardized format for integration
- Supports multiple protocols and file formats
- Quickly configure new connectors with a low-code approach
- Frictionless onboarding of new franchise sales partners
- Closer collaboration across the retail ecosystem
- Real-time stock information and faster replenishment
- Fewer stockouts, better customer experience, more sales.
The Salsa Retail portal provides own stores, department stores and franchises users, a range of features that augment what is possible via the point-of-sale terminals.
Key capabilities of Salsa Retail:
- Inter-store article rotation
- Price label printing
- Customer complaint management
- Customer support
- Better stock availability
- Streamlined administration—so retail staff can focus more on customers
- Better running stores
- Superior customer experience
The Salsa App Dev Perspective
With 14+ years of OutSystems development experience in Salsa’s IT team, application development is running like a well-oiled machine. “We have two fulltime developers that work on OutSystems,” explains Rui. “But over and beyond this, it’s a collaborative, multidisciplinary effort involving stakeholders across the business.”
“Developer productivity is considerably higher compared to hand-coding.” says Rui, “Nowadays I’d say compared to hand-coding, we’re around three times faster with OutSystems. That’s not just down to faster visual development; we also get a lot of reuse across modules and projects, or by using pre-built components from the Forge app store.”
The DevOps capabilities like one-click-deployment and the code management features of the OutSystems platform are also crucial for Salsa’s app dev team’s productivity. As Rui explains, “Those kinds of efficiency improvement were what originally led us to OutSystems. Fourteen years later, we’re still going strong.”