Growing With Workday: Retail and Hospitality Leaders Share Their Stories

At a Workday digital event, Conversations for a Changing World, leaders from Sprouts and Shake Shack shared how Workday supported them through pandemic disruption—and is helping them move forward with a positive outlook.

While many industries continue to adjust their business models and practices to respond to ongoing pandemic-related changes, two spaces that may never be the same are retail and hospitality. And while the struggles have been painful and disruptive, there is a forward-looking hopefulness in retail and hospitality. The lessons learned are likely to spark constructive changes for consumers and the front-line workforce for years to come. 

At a Workday digital event, Conversations for a Changing World, retail and hospitality leaders from Deloitte, Shake Shack, and Sprouts joined Indy Bains, vice president of industry solutions marketing at Workday, in a session called “Building a Foundation for Growth in Retail and Hospitality With Workday Enterprise Management Cloud.” They shared what their industries have learned and how Workday is helping them move forward confidently. Here are a few highlights from the session.  

Digital Acceleration Moves to the Top

Justin Guimond, senior manager at Deloitte, kicked off the session reflecting on what retail and hospitality companies are learning and focusing on moving forward. A few key themes emerged: digital acceleration, supply chain flexibility, and the power of automation. 

“The real differentiator for Workday was the partnership that we saw long term, with such a heavy focus on growth in the retail space and growth with the financials module.”


Jenny York Senior Director of IT for ERP & PMO Sprouts

The pandemic greatly increased the volume of digital interactions, propelling digital acceleration to the top of many companies’ priority lists. Organizations made huge investments in e-commerce and contactless shopping options to accommodate the rapid and continued change in consumer habits. Supply chains continue to be tested because of the shift in consumer spending patterns. Instead of their primary focus being on filling entire stores, retail stores have to ensure that they can fulfill digital orders quickly and accurately. And automation continues to be a priority, with artificial intelligence (AI) playing a starring role. With more demand for personalization, AI can identify buying patterns and help build a smarter approach to stocking shelves. 

Retail on an Enterprise Management Cloud

Jenny York, senior director of IT for enterprise resource planning and project management office at Sprouts, and Brian Seely, senior director, enterprise systems and solutions at Shake Shack, joined in the conversation with their answers to the question, “What was your catalyst for change?” that led them to choose Workday Enterprise Management Cloud

For Seely, a solid tech foundation to underpin future growth was essential. His team started by focusing on financial systems and then expanded into a full platform. And it led to strong results, reducing close time from 10 to 15 days down to five days. At Sprouts, York said fast growth caused the company to outgrow back-office systems, and leaders wanted to get financial information to the right people more quickly.  

So why Workday? York shared this: “The real differentiator for Workday was the partnership we saw long term, with such a heavy focus on growth in the retail space and growth with the financials module. We felt that we would have a voice in that conversation with Workday.” 

For Seely, the partnership was also key, along with the knowledge that Workday truly wanted to understand Shake Shack’s business. And in terms of having finance and HR on one platform, both York and Seely shared that the full integration makes everything much simpler, since they aren’t spending time reconciling data. 

Automation was a critical part of Workday’s role in supporting Sprouts and Shake Shack during the pandemic. For Seely, Workday’s automation made going remote much easier, and having every employee on Workday Human Capital Management was key. York and the Sprouts team were also able to go remote “without skipping a beat” with automation. 

Looking forward, Seely and York shared a few things they’re excited about in the next few years in retail. Seely and his team have learned they can still serve their guests on all sides of the business, even during disruption, and find ways to grow and thrive. And York shared a similar sentiment, as Sprouts innovates to meet the needs of its customers in safe, convenient ways. 

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