Belk hires Accenture to improve e-commerce

Belk hires Accenture to improve e-commerce

Charlotte-based Belk Inc. has hired consultant firm Accenture to improve its online retail systems, mobile shopping and in-store customer service, the department store company said this week.

Belk suffered a high-profile misstep during Thanksgiving and Black Friday — some of the busiest online shopping days of the year — when its website was inoperable for hours due to high traffic.

“Increasingly shoppers are demanding a seamless experience across multiple shopping channels but for most retailers that is not something they can establish overnight,” Nathaniel Fry, managing director for Accenture’s retail service, said in a statement. “We are pleased to work with Belk on this important program to deliver on its customers’ expectations.”

In recent years, Belk has spent millions of dollars updating its e-commerce offerings to keep up with rivals. The company updated its website with online shopping options in 2008, and in 2010 said it would spend $150 million to upgrade its information technology and e-commerce options. The company has also expanded its order fulfillment distribution centers.

Accenture executives said the company will improve the user experience on Belk’s website and expand Belk’s ability to analyze customer data. The consulting company will also help Belk show customers that products are in stock, both in warehouses and in stores, “reducing the possibility that a sale is missed because the product appears to be out of stock in a specific location.”

Belk didn’t disclose how much Accenture will be paid, but president John Belk said Accenture will “help us deliver these new features faster and at a lower cost than we could have achieved alone.” The company operates 301 department stores, and is the largest family-controlled department store company in the nation.