Headquartered in Middleton, Massachusetts, Orchard Brands is a direct-to-consumer retailer of name brand and private label merchandise with a portfolio of 11 consumer lines serving the boomer and senior demographic, generally considered age 50 and over. Orchard Brands include Blair, Tog Shop, and Appleseed’s, among other enduring names. Orchard Brands sells apparel, accessories, shoes, and home, garden, and health products through its catalogs and e-commerce sites.
Orchard Brands is an IBM® i shop, powering its IT systems and operations around three AS/400s located in data centers in the northeastern United States. The IBM i systems host picking/shipping, ﬁnancial operations, and the Oracle CommercialWare order processing application, among other critical business processes. The target persona for the call center is a woman over 50 years of age who prefers to place orders by phone and speak to a human rather than purchase merchandise online. To fully meet the needs of this persona, the call center starts hiring temporary telephone employees in August to support seasonal surges in business over the holidays. During these peak call-in times, the number of call service representatives (CSRs) increases from 500 to 1000. Training for these seasonal hires is critical. Orchard Brands estimates it takes approximately three weeks to get a temporary CSR proﬁcient in answering the phone and processing orders.