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IRX 2016 INTERVIEW David Williams of Deckers on digital transformation

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Ahead of this year’s Internet Retailing Expo (IRX 2016) we’re running a series of previews focusing on event highlights, from the conferences and exhibition to interviews with key retail speakers. Today we speak to David Williams, senior director, digital omnichannel – EMEA, at Deckers Brands

Becoming agile

Internet Retailing: Your presentation is about how UGG Australia and Deckers Brands are transforming their global digital business. Why change – what factors have driven that transformation?

David Williams, senior director, digital omnichannel – EMEA, at Deckers Brands: Deckers has traditionally been a wholesale business, with retail and ecommerce relatively new to the mix. As was the norm, this led to successful, but siloed, businesses. There has been a concerted push over the last couple of years to put the consumer at the centre of everything we do – the dreaded ‘omnichannel’ word – and as such digital is now recognised as an enabler across all channels, not just the ecommerce one.

With my regional team very much a centre of excellence for our multiple European markets, we’re at the vanguard of driving this change. Specifically within the digital space, we’ve also had incredible growth in all our regions – North America, Europe, APAC – which has meant we have to constantly consider our structures; ways of working, what is centralised, what is regionalised, sharing best practice, interacting with our various brand marketing teams. And, of course, the consumer’s changing expectations with the growth of mobile, and the use of multiple devices at home or when shopping adds more complexity that necessitates change.

IR: Can you tell us about one challenge that you’ve come across during the work and how you have or are resolving it?

DW: There have been many – driving digital initiatives in store and getting staff to adapt to it has been particularly tricky – but my presentation specifically touches on the complexity of trying to grow a multibrand, multiple market, multiple device business; it was clear that the traditional structure of digital management by function – website manager, merchandising, online marketing, social – was slowing us down, with replication of responsibilities and inefficiencies.

It was becoming impossible to make the best of our infrastructure as it stood. We needed to change our way of working. A great example is the shopping basket and checkout processes being slightly different for all our brands in each market. It was clear that if you were in France, your experience on whatever device should be the same for all our brands, whichever device you are using. It became clear that we needed one owner of this who was accountable for the basket to checkout process.

We decided that moving to the agile methodology, with the use of SCRUM, was going to help us make changes faster and more efficiently, when making enhancements. We’ve incorporated some waterfall metholodogy to solidify our requirements gathering – a SCRUM-FALL hybrid if you will – which allows us to value work more quickly and have much more solid requirements but allowing for the more fluid development that the agile methodology allows. Plus we’re building out a user experience team who are involved at the beginning and end of the process so that we incorporate real user experiences. There are so many tools out there that are very cheap, which can be incorporated into your processes. And we’ve ensured that ‘test and measure’ is one of our mantras.

IR: What’s been a big win for you as a result of the changes?

DW: Well, in a challenging year for fashion overall, we’ve managed to maintain our growth and a lot of this we can put down to transformation we’ve done. We’ve seen some major improvements in macro conversions on all devices, but especially on our smartphone. Where we’ve introduced some major initiatives such as our Click and Reserve project, we’ve seen a huge reduction in technical debt – that is ‘phase 2’ works, or changes that occur post launch. That is nearly zero, compared to the traditional waterfall projects which always veer from change management to doing additional post launch works, and means we are much more effective. Plus we’re in a good position to challenge the HIPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) effect with the way we are structured. Take on board comments, but iterate and test and measure them with the consumer first in mind.

IR: How do you see digital commerce continuing to change in the future?

DW: I’m no futurist, and I hate buzz terms, but the ‘internet of things’ is clearly going to be changing the way we do everything especially in more regular shopping places. Digital commerce is going to be more integrated with retail but I am hoping we will solve the conundrum of the moment where digital commerce is simply a service enabler in store – Endless Aisle, Click and Reserve, Ship from Store – to being truly experiential, with the smartphone at the centre of it all.

David Williams, senior director, digital omnichannel – EMEA, at Deckers Brands, is speaking in the Digital Sales and Marketing Conference on April 28 at IRX 2016. His presentation, Becoming Agile – how UGG Australia and Deckers Brands are transforming their global digital business, is at 11.15am.

Find out more about IRX 2016 here. Register to visit the show for free here.

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