It’s the quintessential San Francisco startup story. Two entrepreneurs have a challenge and can’t find a solution on the market. So they set up their own company to fill the gap. But this isn’t a story about a high-tech high-flyer.

The year was 1969 and the problem was that Don Fisher couldn’t find a pair of jeans that fit. Fast forward to 2021, and The Gap—founded by Don and Doris Fisher—is a household name selling its unique brand of casual clothing online and at its stores around the world.

Since the Fishers opened the first store in San Francisco, Gap Inc. has expanded to a family of brands—including Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta, Intermix and Janie and Jack—while remaining at the forefront of customer experience innovation. The company debuted online shopping at in 1997, and today offers the ability to shop across channels with Find in Store, Buy Online Pickup In-Store and the multi-brand mobile app.

Partnering with VMware is a key to Gap Inc.’s omnichannel success. The retailer uses multiple VMware infrastructure and modern app solutions to deliver the innovative apps that delight customers as they shop online. Meanwhile, VMware digital workspaces enable store associates to help customers quickly find what they need in stores.  

What Is Workspace ONE?

A digital workspace gives remote workers or store employees easier, more secure ways to access essential apps and resources.

Discover VMware vSphere

This industry-leading virtualization platform can drive application modernization with integration of native Kubernetes. 

Explore VMware NSX

A complete networking and security virtualization platform lets you connect and protect your apps across on-premises and cloud infrastructure.

The convenience of mobility 

In 2017, Gap Inc. began equipping store associates with mobile devices to enable better customer service on store floors. Because associates use mobile devices and mobile printers to complete customers’ transactions, shoppers no longer need wait in line to open store credit cards, pay for items or place home delivery orders.

Inside the stores, customers use wall-mounted Android devices with scanners to check prices. Some are mounted in dressing rooms, so customers can enjoy the convenience of scanning a product tag and requesting a different size or color be delivered to them in the room. VMware Workspace ONE—part of the VMware Anywhere Workspace—helps Gap Inc. manage and secure all of those devices. The secure digital workspace platform, which is offered as either an on-premises solution or a SaaS-based VMware Cross-Cloud service, enables Gap Inc. to deliver and manage any app on any device.

Developing more apps to delight more customers

The mobile device initiative has spurred Gap Inc. to develop new apps to further empower store associates. For example, its in-house-developed app named “In Stock On Shelf,” managed by Workspace ONE, alerts associates when an item in a certain size or color is running low on the sales floor. The app tells associates the location of extra stock in the backroom so they can quickly react and replenish. Associates have praised the app as “brilliant,” “remarkable” and even “life-changing” for customer service and for the business, according to Gap Inc. 

Gap Inc. developers continuously test ways to help customers discover new products and experience delightful, easy shopping. For example, all Gap Inc. brand websites recommend products to online shoppers based on items they’ve browsed or purchased in the past. And holders of the GapCard credit card can manage their accounts and rewards directly in the consumer-facing app. Currently, developers are adding a feature enabling customers to scan a bar code to read reviews, find more sizes and colors, and quickly order online for home or in-store delivery.

Behind the scenes, Gap Inc. relies on VMware solutions for building, running, managing and securing apps. For example, VMware vSphere server virtualization software provides a foundation for running apps in a private cloud environment across data centers. VMware NSX networking solutions connect and protect both apps and data across cloud environments. And VMware Tanzu Application Service, delivered as a VMware Cross-Cloud service, provides a runtime environment for modern apps.

Securing customer data

While delighting customers is important, it’s also essential to keep their data secure. So Gap Inc. leverages the micro-segmentation capabilities of VMware NSX to protect its network, apps and customer data with a Zero Trust security model. With micro-segmentation, Gap Inc. can isolate key servers and applications in its data center and cloud, making it safer to process or transmit sensitive data. This approach not only enables a fundamentally more secure environment, it also ensures compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

Amazing experiences

As any shopper knows, it’s a delight to easily find and buy just the item you’re looking for. Gap Inc. aims to enable that experience seamlessly across locations, channels and devices, whether in stores or online. With its commitment to retail innovation and a digital foundation built on VMware, the company is doing just that.  ▪