The Benetton Group

Fashion forward with iPad.

Benetton is internationally known for its lively fashions and memorable ad campaigns. From the company’s headquarters near Venice to the furthest reaches of the fashion world, Benetton requires reliable, easy-to-use mobile technology that transcends all boundaries of culture and geography. Naturally, they chose iPad.

With a network of 6,000 stores in 120 countries, the Benetton Group — which includes the casual United Colors of Benetton line, the high-style Sisley label and leisurewear brand Playlife — produces 160 million garments every year. With that amount of production in the works, this fashion giant relies on iPad to better communicate and stay connected.

“When iPad came out, the company was quick to see the device’s potential, and decided to adopt it immediately,” says Aldo Chiaradia, Benetton’s Chief Information Technology Officer. “The ease of use, the attention to detail — these are things you don’t see in other devices. Today, our entire sales force and all our C-level executives and managers use iPad.”

iPad makes it simple for Benetton employees to stay connected regardless of their location. “They have Mail, Calendar, Contacts,” says Sylvia Re, IT Service Manager. “They have all the documents and information they need travelling around the world. And the information flows in an encrypted and secure way.”

Transforming Sales

For Benetton’s sales team, iPad changes everything. Before iPad, the company distributed printed catalogues to its sales staff four times a year, 15 days before the launch of each collection. Besides being bulky, expensive and time-consuming to produce, the hard-copy catalogues couldn’t be altered to reflect last-minute design revisions or changes in stock. And since the printed images couldn’t show all the details, Benetton representatives also carried samples of each garment — about seven kilos of clothing — on sales calls.

So Benetton created a customised iPad catalogue app that gives sales staff a lightweight, lightning-fast visual interface and streamlines the entire sales process. Salespeople can quickly navigate through the collections and zoom in on garments for a more detailed view. Products are displayed with complete colour accuracy on iPad, and the catalogue content can be updated in seconds to reflect changes. As a result, the company saves 60 days a year in preparing its sales materials and is able to adapt instantly to changes.

“With the video resolution and calibrated colours on iPad, we can instantly display things that used to be much harder to show,” Chiaradia explains. “People can see and share details of our collection at a speed that would have been unthinkable before.”

“With the video resolution and calibrated colours on iPad, people can see and share details of our collection at a speed that would have been unthinkable before.”

Aldo Chiaradia, Chief Information Technology Officer, Benetton Group

Another in-house app that Benetton designed for retailers illustrates how the company’s clothing can best be placed in stores. “It shows ways to display the collection, and lets you navigate through in 3D,” says Re.

In addition to providing valuable business resources on the go, Benetton’s iPad apps keep proprietary information secure. “On iPad we have encryption, security and authentication,” says Re. “The applications won’t work if the user is not authenticated.” Users can easily download and update apps via an in-house app centre, she notes: “They can see the versions in the iPad browser, and just click an icon to download an app.”

The Apple iOS SDK includes all the essential resources for easy in-house app development. “We found that it’s very easy to write apps and integrate them into our other systems,” Chiaradia says.

True Colours on iPad

Colour means the world to Benetton — it’s a key component of the company’s five-decade international success, a language everyone understands. And with iPad, the company can show its truest, most vivid colours to colleagues and customers around the globe, whether it’s corporate communications, images of the latest designs or retail display materials.

“iPad is a driver for the company to modernise and still maintain its fundamental values,” Chiaradia says. “Basically, it’s a device that allows Benetton to grow.”

“We used to think of iPad as a device from the future,” Re adds, “but now we practically can’t do without it! Our salespeople, our executives — they’d be kind of lost without iPad.”

“We used to think of iPad as a device from the future, but now we practically can’t do without it! Our salespeople, our executives — they’d be kind of lost without iPad.”

Sylvia Re, IT Service Manager, Benetton Group

Company Snapshot

  • Founded in 1965
  • Based in Ponzano Veneto, Italy
  • Annual revenues exceed two billion Euros

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