Founded by French tennis legend René Lacoste, Lacoste is a fashion brand recognizable by their famous embroidered crocodile on its shirts, shoes, and sports clothing.
In 2019, the brand employed over 8,500 people with operations in 98 countries and 1,100 physical stores around the world.
- Industry: E-Commerce, Retail, Fashion Clothing
- Company Size: 10,000+ employees
- Process Vertical: Finance, Customer Support, Accounting
- Process(es) in Pipefy: Reimbursement Request, Accounts Payable, Customer Support
Manual processes hinder increased sales
In addition to over 1,100 physical storefronts on all continents, Lacoste also has e-commerce operations in over 30 countries focused on offering their customers a digital, self-service experience.
Their digital presence began to grow rapidly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and they quickly saw their online sales increasing significantly year over year.
Specifically, in their Brazilian e-commerce operations, the increase in sales opportunities also meant new challenges for their team. For example, when a customer requests a product return, Lacoste’s Customer Support team needs to receive the product; then, the Finance team reimburses the value to the customer. This process needs to be quick and error-proof to ensure an optimal customer experience.
For credit card purchases, this process is simple: bank partnerships allow Lacoste’s Finance team to reverse payment rapidly. However, debit card purchases require the Finance team to kick off a long process of collecting and running the client’s information (such as name and bank account) through internal approvals until it can be handed off to the Accounts Payable team.
Before the pandemic, this process was organized through email, spreadsheets, and printed documents. The approval flow was the most manual part, as the Finance team would gather physical signatures before processing the reimbursement payment.
Working remotely and increasing online sales began to impact deadlines for customer reimbursements directly. The Finance team needed to find a digital and agile solution to gain efficiency in this process and replace their manual workflow.
A solution for scaling finance processes
Already worried about the scalability of Finance processes, at the beginning of 2020, Vinicius Castro, Projects and Digital Operations Manager at Lacoste, was ready to take steps to improve their internal and external e-commerce operational workflows.
Vinicius and the Finance team needed to solve many operational issues — including process reimbursements taking too long to process. One was lacking the ability to track the status of each reimbursement request. Their team often couldn’t locate specific requests since this information wasn’t centralized in a single place. This lack of standardization also kept managers from being able to track their team’s performance indicators.
After previously working with Pipefy at his former employer, Vinicius began Lacoste’s journey to implementing this platform. Less than one month after their first contact with the sales team, Pipefy was already onboarded and implemented.
In order to digitalize the reimbursement process, four teams began using Pipefy: Customer Support, Fiscal, Accounting, and Accounts Payable. Their reimbursement workflow begins with the support team filling out a Pipefy Form when a reimbursement request is received. After this, all teams follow the standardized flow inside the software.
The level of effort from each team member has greatly diminished — especially after having to search for data in several different communication channels. Currently, whenever a reimbursement request comes in, each department knows what procedures to complete for the process to be concluded. The flow of information between teams is more clear and standardized than ever before.
Scalability and efficiency with great results
After Pipefy’s implementation in February 2020, Lacoste underwent a drastic change. Pipefy helped Lacoste scale their reimbursement request processes without needing to increase the team’s headcount and keep up with their increasing online sales.
Another essential gain to Lacoste’s operation was the control of indicators. With the process standardized, they were now able to generate reports: managers could now measure each team’s efficiency and make smarter decisions moving forward. Lacoste’s managers calculated that around 1,300 reimbursement requests via bank slip were processed in 2020 — a number they probably wouldn’t have been able to find before implementing Pipefy.
The average time to process a reimbursement decreased by over 50%, another essential indicator for the sector. Before Pipefy, their team took around 45 days to close each reimbursement request; currently, the same process takes 20 days on average from start to end.
Beyond standardizing workflows, another aspect that explains the team’s efficiency gain was the use of process automation. Lacoste’s team saved over 1,000 hours of manual labor, considering only the time saved with automation rules — such as sending emails to customers and handing off information between teams.
Upcoming challenges for digital transformation
According to Vinicius, Pipefy is helping Lacoste’s team every day in reaching their goal: to achieve excellence in customer support. With standardized processes and automated manual tasks, the team can be more efficient in offering the best to their customers.
The possibility of controlling operational indicators in real-time means Vinicius and other company leaders can make important decisions based on accurate data.
The increased efficiency Pipefy provided to the reimbursement process caught the attention of other departments in the company, such as HR and Finance. They also intend to incorporate their processes into the tool and expand their journey towards digital transformation in Lacoste.