Bags of potential: Db’s path to digital transformation
Over the past few years, as the world worked, studied, exercised and shopped from home, retailers saw a spike in digital sales which for many necessitated a transformation in their online operations to keep up with demand.
It’s a challenge that the digital team at Db Journey – the travel luggage brand favoured by action adventurer types – likens to “doing open heart surgery while running a marathon”.
So how can firms nimbly transform their operations to keep up with market forces?
This was the issue discussed in a webinar jointly hosted by Jonathan Summerfield, CEO of digital transformation consultancy Xiatech and Rafael Orozco, CTO, and head of operations of Db Journey.
The need to upgrade online retail’s digital operations increased during the lockdowns brought on by the pandemic. To cope with this surge in demand, the Scandinavian retailer needed to build a robust back end and Orozco says that the firm is now at the phase where it’s “leveraging data in ways that we didn’t even think possible in this timescale”.
A perfect storm
Prior to its transformation journey, the award winning ethical luggage retailer had been struggling with external factors such as a tough economic outlook due to a lack of customer loyalty.
“Because of the shift to online, customers who have more choice are less loyal to certain brands, particularly in Gen Z,” Summerfield explained.
The online store also faced other challenges, including a lack of digital skills, an inability to keep up customer demand and the rising cost of distribution – which again fed into the issue of customer loyalty.
“In retail, being able to respond to increasing costs in distribution, or basically the extended lead times of new arrivals, is something you really need to be able to respond quickly and anticipate,” Orozco stressed.
A lack of live actionable insights on the analytics front was preventing Db from being able to address this issue and was a result of poor data quality across the organisation, which, in turn, disrupted efficient business reporting of costs and profitability.
According to Orozco, one of the biggest issues of Db had been its high cost of outdated software with systems that needed “a lot of patchwork”. The CTO added: “It’s just so easy to get cornered into setup that is actually hindering you – and we saw that with some of our legacy systems.”
In previous years, Summerfield’s career in supporting digital transformation within retail has seen him work with the likes of Tesco and M&S on technology programmes with delivery times of two years.
Now however, he claims that retailers simply can’t wait that long. For Db, Xiatech leveraged its ‘Hyper-Integration’ platform within a matter of weeks.
“Hyper-Integration for us is all about how you align leadership, the people, and processes within an organisation, with the technology, with the data, and with the integration that needs to occur in order for [a business] to be successful,” he said.
For Db, this meant it had to re-engineer the entire back end of its company’s systems so that it could scale fast in the future, according to Orozco.
“That meant a very big change for everyone in the company as it meant learning new systems and whole new integrations and processes,” he added.
Db’s transformation project included building real-time monitors for data quality, integration and order flow which enabled it to create a comprehensive suite of analytics for its operations.
The result, according to Orozco, is that the retailer is “able to look at exactly what’s happening in the business and predict what’s going to happen – which is a very special part of that adoption curve of technology and data”.
Hyper-Integration also meant connecting Db so that it could use live data to make real time decisions, create personalised experiences to drive customer loyalty, add new channels to market, offer new services and anticipate what customers want next.
Db’s operational teams such as supply chain, sales and marketing can now see real-time analytics of order lifecycle for both B2B and B2C analytics, which allows it to improve its merchandise planning and forecasting processes.
“Now, we’re looking at much more complex ways of analysing our inventory, our sales and our warehouse performance,” Orozco claimed.
He added: “We see all the stuff that’s happening right now with data and the speed and we’re able to develop insights. That’s really what we use now day-to-day to respond and we’re able to act much faster than we did before.”
According to the retail CTO, around 70% to 80% of employees now frequently visit the company performance dashboard: “That’s really when you start democratising data – and people are able to relate their work to the company – so that transformative element of information is crucial.”
Subscribe to our Editor's weekly newsletter