The fashion and lifestyle company, Breuninger, was founded in 1881 by Eduard Breuninger and is today one of the leading omnichannel department stores in Europe. For 140 years, Breuninger has set high standards in the areas of fashion, beauty and lifestyle with an exclusive selection of international designer brands and selected newcomer brands. The online shop www.breuninger.com, launched in 2008, is one of the most successful in the premium and luxury segment and is represented in ten countries. Within Germany and Luxembourg, Breuninger now has 13 stores with around 6,500 employees.
Breuninger and pentacor
Breuninger and pentacor have been working together since 2018. As an established partner for enterprise architecture consulting and individual software development, pentacor supports the company in optimally aligning its IT landscape with its digitalisation efforts.
Within the framework of enterprise architecture consulting, we work together with Breuninger’s architects to keep an eye on the company’s capabilities and develop various architecture views using different methods (e.g. from strategic DDD) in order to make the effects of the company’s initiatives on Breuninger’s IT landscape discussable. Overarching goals such as omnichannel fulfilment and customer centricity will be pursued and enterprise architecture principles will be observed. The principles were initially developed jointly and are now being continuously refined. They include: Guidance instead of Governance, Best Solution Principle (Make or Buy), Omnichannel and Autonomy in the development and operation of a functional domain.
Enterprise architecture work at Breuninger is an important discipline because the company has decided to put the customer at the centre and to cut the organisation into autonomous verticals along the customer journey according to domain pruning. Each vertical is responsible for a clearly defined, self-contained discipline and continuously optimises it for the customers.
The implementation of strategic projects usually affects not only one vertical, but rather the entire customer journey or large parts of the value chain. It is therefore essential that a holistic view – a target architecture – emerges that documents the development decisions regarding the location of capabilities and solutions.
These architecture discussions provide guidance for the whole organisation and support the verticals in delineating their expertise. Their autonomy with regard to the solution architecture is taken into account. The enterprise architecture supports the verticals in their context only for make-or-buy decisions or integration issues that go beyond the vertical.
In addition, the architectural principles developed by the enterprise architects ensure the autonomy of the verticals throughout the software development cycle (design, build, run). These include:
- Loose coupling
- Share nothing
- Separation of concerns
- Open-Closed principle and Anti-Corruption Layer
A key strategic initiative was the expansion of the online shop into a marketplace for traders without logistically collecting their goods or shipping them to customers when they sell. In order to turn the online shop into a marketplace, an extensive architecture phase was necessary, which analysed skills in controlling, financial accounting and billing as well as logistics and in the online shop itself. As enterprise architects, we worked out the effects on the various domains and thus on the IT landscape in this phase through scenario-based discussions. In the process, the following activities were carried out, which we always shared or discussed with various stakeholders in the company:
- Creation: Capability Map Heat Map – description of the new or changing capabilities in the company as a result of the marketplace.
- Creation: High Level Business Processes – scenario-based discussion of the business processes and their business functions that will change as a result of the marketplace. This included a detailed discussion of the impact on the value chain, the location of capabilities and guidance on cost estimation by the teams.
- Evaluation of standard marketplace software providers to implement merchant integrations (item master and content, pricing, inventory, orders) and active make-or-buy decisions.
- Integration of a marketplace platform into the IT landscape
The Breuninger EA team was supported, among other things, by an experienced consultant from pentacor for the marketplace initiative.
Since 2018, Breuninger and pentacor have been successfully working together in enterprise architecture to manage complexity. The EA team follows a pragmatic enterprise architecture approach based on the TOGAF method. Based on this method, strategic initiatives are continuously discussed and mapped to the IT landscape, and architectural principles are questioned and improved.
The architecture work during the launch of the marketplace has shown how important it is to create and discuss architectural views in the run-up to a major initiative in order to implement it successfully in the company and also to make it scalable for the future. A future-proof extension of the online shop into a marketplace was created. The expansion makes it possible to make more fashion and lifestyle brands available at Breuninger or to create more depth with top sellers.