Since 1999, Shutterfly has been empowering customers to create products and capture moments that reflect who they uniquely are. Acquired in 2019 by Apollo Global Management, the current Shutterfly family of brands — organized into three divisions: Consumer (Spoonflower, Snapfish, and Shutterfly), Lifetouch, and Shutterfly Business Solutions — forms the leading e-commerce and manufacturing platform for personalized products and custom design.

Enabling mass personalization for millions of customers is no easy task, especially amid the social distancing, supply chain, and e-commerce disruptions we have all experienced in recent years. In addition, unifying the business practices and technology platforms inherited through multiple acquisitions in recent years had also posed challenges for the company.

Shutterfly has been swift in implementing a range of SAP products, becoming a pioneer in cloud-first technology adoption. “We have brought everyone together onto a single SAP platform,” said Andres Suarez, Senior Director for Enterprise Applications at Shutterfly, who recently sat down with ASUG to discuss the company’s transformation story.

A Complex Consolidation

Encompassing SAP solutions such as S/4HANA, SuccessFactors (Employee Central & Payroll), Ariba, Extended Warehouse Management, Integrated Business Planning, Concur Travel & Expense Management, BlackLine Solutions for, Business Technology Platform, and Governance, Risk & Compliance, Shutterfly’s technology ecosystem also incorporates SAP partnerships such as OpenText Vendor Invoice Management (VIM) and OpenText Extended Enterprise Content Management (xECM). 

“We’ve migrated from Workday, Lawson, Oracle EBS, Epicor, and NetSuite to SAP, and that has enabled important synergies for our company,” said Suarez. “Beyond the technology aspect, it has driven alignment and organizational change.”

The past few years have involved multiple platform consolidations across the company. Shutterfly CIO Michael Robinson calls it “simplifying the quilt,” a key pillar in Shutterfly’s technology strategy to build a foundation for scale. The effort also entails deprecating legacy systems and migrating historical documents for retention.

“The value is not just in the product functionality, but in the synergies we’ve achieved,” said Suarez. “Employee Central is now our HR system of record. It gives us visibility to all employee data that we didn’t have before, and we pay between 12,000 and 19,000 permanent plus seasonal employees from Employee Central Payroll.”

“Shutterfly also uses SAP Procurement, Extended Warehouse Management and Integrated Business Planning,” Suarez added. “Our operations team takes huge pride in meeting and exceeding customer expectations, and they have continued to do so as they’ve adopted these tools in spite of the massive supply chain challenges that have plagued the industry in recent years.”

“In Accounting,” he said, “we have improved transparency and efficiency with S/4HANA and BlackLine. These solutions provide cross-company visibility to our financials and a month-end close that’s been reduced from 10 to 5 days, which our team is committed to streamlining further through automations and other accelerators.”

Although SAP solutions to date have served primarily as Shutterfly’s internal operating platform, Shutterfly’s BorrowLenses business unit also rolled out the customer-facing SAP Hybris Commerce Cloud portal and shopping cart experience in 2022 for its photographic equipment rental business; now, other use cases are being explored across the company.

The road ahead

Digital transformation does not come easily to most companies. While SAP prioritizes user experience in its software design, customers transitioning from custom-built systems inevitably encounter learning curves with new solutions. Suarez acknowledges that such obstacles are to be expected, and that Shutterfly’s adoption of SAP has taken time, but his data shows that the number of enhancements requested by the business is reducing over time. “We’re not perfect yet, but we’re leagues ahead of when we operated disparate systems by business unit,” he said.

Shutterfly has long embraced innovation and change. “It’s made us who we are and keeps us relevant in the market,” said Suarez, “so we plan to remain agile and leverage the evolution of the SAP cloud strategy and product roadmap.”

An example of that is the current effort to migrate integrations from SAP Process Integration/Process Orchestration (PI/PO) to SAP Business Technology Platform. “We are early in our BTP journey,” according to Suarez, “but there’s a significant level of investment from SAP to make it more powerful and extensible, and to help customers realize benefits.”

Opportunities to extend and leverage the solution further abound. “The user experience can be enhanced through analytics, chatbots, robotic process automation and AI,” he added, “but technology isn’t the only answer; we are always working on process improvements and user adoption which can have a big impact, too.”

What’s next

Suarez is especially excited about increasing the agility of the company's platform hosting operations. Shutterfly runs on SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) today and is evaluating a move to RISE with SAP S/4HANA, Private Cloud Edition against alternative options with multiple hyperscalers.

Once migrated, they’ll continue with an S/4HANA version upgrade so that teams across the business can leverage the new capabilities. “We want to have with our enterprise systems what has already become second nature for users of cell phones and electric vehicles,” said Suarez. “They get regular software updates and expect to benefit from the improvements. We look forward to this being a real possibility as the platform and hosting services evolve in the months and years to come.”

Overall, Suarez is optimistic about the journey. “Shutterfly’s SAP experience has been positive, and we’ve learned along the way,” he said. “It requires a lot of work, everyone’s committed to it, and we’re moving in the right direction.”

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