MarketingSherpa Video Archive

Omnichannel Marketing: Optimizing digital content efforts to maximize growth in ecommerce

Courtney Eckerle, MECLABS, and Tom Davis, Puma

In a recent MarketingSherpa webinar, Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content, MECLABS, was joined by Tom Davis, Global Head of Ecommerce, Puma, to discuss how the company embraced an omnichannel marketing strategy to thrive in the global marketplace.

Puma was trying to identify where it fit into the domestic and global market, but faced an obstacle with global marketplace complexity, with websites such as Amazon and eBay, along with other online marketplaces.

"How do you play in in the omnichannel world of multiple channels, multiple touchpoints and multiple customer interactions? That's what we struggle with today. There's no silver bullet … we are trying to align ourselves to attack this environment," Davis explained.

The biggest challenges Puma faced were unifying brand and ecommerce experiences, improving product information and digitizing assets, and finally, optimizing the internal structure of the company.

Watch this webinar to learn how Davis tackled these obstacles and the top takeaways from this effort.

Download the slides to this presentation

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Video Transcription

Eckerle: Hello, and welcome to another MarketingSherpa webinar. Thank you for joining us today, we've got a great case study about Puma's omnichannel marketing and their efforts to maximize e-commerce growth. So, as always, we want to hear from you, interact from you, so as we go through today's webinar, by sure to follow #SherpaWebinar, which we'll be monitoring for any questions, observations, or feedback you might have. So, also on #SherpaWebinar, we will be sharing related resources for today's Puma webinar, such as these, with you.

OK. So joining us today is Tom Davis, who is the Global Head of E-commerce at Puma. He's going to speak from more than 15 years of management experience. Currently, he oversees the global e-commerce business for Puma, which covers more than 30 countries. So, from that background he possesses hands-on experience with business management, replatforming, emerging market e-commerce strategy, customization, and e-commerce operation.

So welcome Tom, and thank you for joining us. Hello, and welcome to another MarketingSherpa webinar. We've had some audio issues, but with us today we have Tom Davis, the Global Head of E-commerce at Puma. Welcome, Tom.

Davis: Hey, thanks a lot for being here. Yeah, I lost connection for a little bit, so not sure what happened, but yeah, glad to be here.

Eckerle: OK, great. Well, thank you for joining us and thank you all for joining us. So, Tom, now I'm sure everyone is familiar with Puma; it's a globally recognized brand. But, tell us a little bit about the company from your perspective.

Davis: Yeah, so Puma is hopefully most everybody knows is a lifestyle and sports brand. We're based out of Germany. It's been around for about 70 years and the size and scope of the business is about $4 billion annually. So it's a pretty good sized retailer with a pretty good market share across the world.

So, other than that, I can go into the fact that at I've been here for about three-and-a-half years, and we've been doing a lot of exciting projects here to get ready for kind of what we're seeing and talking about today in terms of omnichannel marketing and basically taking our business global from an e-commerce standpoint.

Eckerle: Your global marketplace complexity is you basically have Puma versus the world here, is what it looks like.

Davis: Sure, yeah. I think for us it's pretty easy at Puma. I think the biggest thing for us is trying to figure out where we fit in the marketplace. You know, I think there's a lot of struggles for brands out there to try to figure out how they fit into e-commerce, not only from a domestic point of view, but also globally. How do you set up your own business from a direct-to-consumer point of view, but also, how do you play in what's called the "omnichannel world" of multiple channels, multiple touch points, multiple customer interactions.

That's what we struggle with today. I'll be the first to say that there's no silver bullet to try to figure this out, but we're trying to align ourselves to tackle this environment.

Eckerle: Alright. And, so, why is copy and paste not an option for Puma right now?

Davis: Well, what we've seen is going global and taking our business to the direct-to-consumer point and the e-commerce point is that the world is obviously simple, but it's different. The U.S. is not Europe, Europe is not the U.S., the U.S. is certainly not China or Japan. So, when you start to go out to these new markets, you start to realize how consumers interact not only from a multichannel point of view, but specifically an e-commerce point of view.

The ecosystems of e-commerce, each of these new markets just are different. So, if you try to answer those markets with what I call a cut-and-paste approach, meaning take what you've done in the U.S. and take what you've done in Europe, and you try to drop that construct into these new, emerging markets, they're not going to be as efficient, or even as successful.

And I definitely have learned that the hard way, of trying to force some of our businesses into some of these regions. You think what we've done here in the Western countries has not been as successful as you would think.

Eckerle: Yeah, requires very nimble marketing, moving from place to place. And, I love this slide, "Successful Brands will Heart Data"

Davis: Yeah, and this is another big eye-opening piece for us as we start to build global and start to learn how our business reacts and competes is that it's imperative for brands, especially retail brands that may have a wholesale partner business to really embrace the data. Especially if you take a complex marketplace, going back to retail and marketplaces, can't be copy and paste. To get through that, you've got to weed through data, and you have to really embrace that.

Eckerle: So jumping into mobile from there. What's the big picture with mobile? Where is it heading?

Davis: Yeah. So this is adds more complexity to what we see out there, which is obviously mobile penetration is proliferating, and here in the U.S. we see that quite well with iPhone and Androids. When you get to the other parts of the world, whether it's Europe or Asia, what we're seeing is that we're probably only about a third of the way through the growth of mobile.

What we're going to start seeing is that it's becoming ubiquitous in the States or in Europe, but as you're getting into places like China or India, or even Africa, a lot of these people haven't even transitioned from feature phones or the old simplistic Nokia or Motorola phones, and what we're going to see over the next five-to-10 years is just an amazing amount of growth in just mobile usage. Which, seems pretty straight forward, but when you put the numbers together, you're going to see three-to-four times growth happening in the smartphone market, which really gets us to think about making mobile first, and really starting to realize that, or what I like to say to be a little dramatic, is that the era of the PC is ending.

I think you can see that with some of our gross, and I have a slide here just to show you how our mobile penetration is looking in the point in time, and how far it has saturated the way out e-commerce business works today. Obviously, what this shows is, if you look at the grey bars against the blue bars, the grey bars are last year's mobile penetration, meaning the percentage of our unique visitors that came to our property last year compared to what we've seen the penetrate rate this year through Q1.

And you can see almost every market our mobile penetration rate is growing. And obviously in North America, almost 50% of our unique visitors are coming to our e-commerce business through a mobile phone, which is just staggering to me, because two years ago, this is maybe 50%.

Eckerle: Wow. And so this is just Quarter 1. So, for the whole of 2014, you're probably anticipating the difference is going to be even greater.

Davis: Yeah, I think what we'll see as we get into Q4, you'll probably see North America tip over 50%. And then Europe will climb into the 40% range. So, if you think about that, those are our two major markets at the moment, so 40% to 50% of our web traffic is mobile first. Which is just staggering to me.

And so yeah, thanks for switching that up. Case in point here, the other night I was preparing and doing a little homework for this session, and already you can see this Europe in middle of the night their time, and as I said, their numbers are creeping up into the 40% range already. And this is almost at 50%. So, it's happening faster than I ever thought it would be. So having a mobile first priority position, or it's a priority in your multichannel or e-commerce strategy is paramount, and should be priority number one at this point.

Eckerle: Yeah. This is something that marketers, we've been talking about it for a really long time in the e-commerce theater, but it's one of those things that's not there anymore. It's happening right now.

Davis: Yeah. It's reality. And, I'd say well over 50% of our emails are being opened on mobile at this point. That's what's driving that mobile usage from a unique visitor standpoint.

Eckerle: We just had a question from Paul that I think applies here, "What percentage of Puma's sales are online globally in Europe, U.S. and Africa?"

Davis: Well, I'd love to disclose that, but I can't because we're a public company. But I think it's fair to say that we're commensurate in terms of proportion to other competitors in market, which I'm sure you can figure out who are direct competitors would be.

But, we are a wholesale brand, and so of the $4 billion in turnover we do a year, probably 78% of that is wholesale, and the rest of that is quote-on-quote retail. And so we're part of that retail business, if you will. So, unfortunately I can't disclose that number, but it's still a pretty significant number.

Eckerle: OK, well let's jump into Puma's global business footprint, here.

Davis: Yeah, so this maybe is a good tie to that question, which is, this is kind of how our business, from a total business at Puma, spreads out across the world. It's fairly even between the three major regions, and I consolidate the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, but you can see it's almost a third, a third, a third, maybe a little less in APAC.

But when we looked at our e-commerce business, we noticed that it wasn't obviously as equal in terms of market share. We were really focusing on the Americas and Europe, and we were neglecting some of these other amazing markets that were growing.

So going to the next slide, before we were taking our business global, one of the big things that we had to do is consider our own internal, or what I consider looking in the mirror, it's great that the global marketplace is there, it's booming, that's great, but are we physically and mentally set on taking advantage on what was coming at us at 60 mph in the face, it seems like at times.

And we've really felt that there are three challenges for us to set ourselves up to be successful. Not just from an e-commerce point of view, but from a multichannel point of view. We needed to keep a unified brand experience, and I'll talk about that in a second, but we had to really improve and adopt a philosophy around product information. And then last but not least is our structure needed to reflect and be what I consider congruent with what the marketplace was dictating. And we had to address that issue head on.

Eckerle: All right, well now before we go into those challenges. If you're enjoying hearing Tom speak on this webinar, coming up on May 18 in New York City is the IRCE Focus: Brands and B2B event where he will be a keynote speaker.

So using that code in the corner there, MS14, you can save 25% on your ticket to the event, where there will be other noteworthy speakers like Tom, sharing their expertise and insights into what's happening in the world of B2B and B2C e-commerce.

And book-ending that event will be the MarketingSherpa MarketingExperiments Web Optimization Summit 2014. There are only two more weeks and our team is very excited to head to The TimesCenter in New York City to kick off. So, you'll here e-commerce and some case studies for brand-side marketers like you, getting tactical takeaways that you can take directly back to our office.

OK, well Tom, let's jump right into that first challenge, unifying brand and e-commerce experiences.

Davis: Yeah. Exactly, and I'll try and pick up some time here just because we had some technical difficulties. But I think this goes without saying. If we jump ahead, one of our big things we wanted to do is, we're a traditional wholesaler. So we had a big marketing arm and our e-commerce arm, and they didn't really see eye-to-eye because we were trying to cater to two different markets.

So one of the big missions we had was to try to create a unified website. So, when we think about that, we looked at the marketplace, most of our competitors, or people in the lifestyle section of retail, had made this decision already. Which was, they had taken their business and moved from two or three different websites into one what we call flagship or global brand site.

So, Puma still today is just at the tip of moving in this direction and we just started this process about 18 months ago and we're just rolling it out. We had to make the concerted decision to integrate our brands and to stop being separated to go where we're going.

And on top of that, not only do we have to bring our sites together, we had to bring it together in a way that we were able to take advantage of a multi-device world. So, you take together brands and e-commerce, and then turn it on its head and say we've got multiple form factors, and then of course more complex is being in the global marketplace.

So exponentially it's a bit more difficult, but we had to swallow that pill, if you will, to move forward, to get that done first before we could move forward. Then, two out of three, the second one was really going through and improving the product information. And this is where my passion lives at times people think I'm a little bit nuts, but I call this my Jon Bon Jovi theory, to anybody who loves "Slippery When Wet."

Eckerle: I don't know why more marketers don't bring Jon Bon Jovi in as a metaphor. I love it.

Davis: No, I mean I think it's something that will stay with me, you know? But yeah, I say it tongue in cheek, but I think there's a famous great line from one of the songs, which is, "It's all the same, only the names change," and I say that out of respect, of course, because it's a wonderful song, "Dead or Alive."

But really because what I've seen over my career is that if you take any sort of industry that we do in our business. And I'll take this from what's called the search engine world, it's over time, going from the mid-90s and going through today, whether it's AOL, or Lycos, or LookSmart, or Google, or Facebook, or whatever, the information that's still coming out of these channels is pretty much the same. It's just reconstructed in a new way. And so the constant here is really the news or the information or the email.

The channel that you're going to get that information from changes. And that's where we think, or I like to think about Puma. It's the same when we think about e-commerce, which is, whether in the late 90s you were using INTERSHOP, or Puma, or Blue Martini, or in the mid-2000s you're in the IBM, more ATG world, where even now where you're getting into the SaaS models, the names are changing, but it's all the same.

Meaning that for us to be strategically nimble in the global market, we need to own our product information, and why that's so important is that it allows us to move between the channels, or e-commerce vendors, or market vendors, or advertising channels very quickly. It's when you get tied into these channels that you have no way out, that you become paralyzed.

I think in today's market, you have to own the data, because the names are going to change. So, if you know that going in, you can own your stuff, and you can own your information, my philosophy is that the constant that goes through these last two decades is the product information. So managing your product information, to me, is one of the key pillars of our strategy to be agile in this global market, especially when you start going into the multichannel world.

Eckerle: Let's jump into your final challenge: optimizing internal structure.

Davis: Yeah, and last but not least, is the final, truest for what we need to do, is that it’s global marketplace and Puma serves all these markets, and the way were handling our e-commerce business before we got, before I came on board, was that it was very decentralized. We had eight or nine teams around the world, we were competing in lots of different markets, we were handling eight languages, nine currencies, we were using demand where got Magenta, we got third party platforms; it was all over the place. And that seemed good at the time, 10 years ago, but there were no synergy between any of these teams who were working independently.

So, what we decided to do was make a concerted effort again to align ourselves to the way our markets were moving. And by doing that, we really focused on centralizing the e-commerce efforts that we were doing for our global position, which is where I sit, I sit in Boston.

And then what we did is create three major hubs around the world. For the Americas, we have the North American team; in Europe, we have the European team; And APAC, we have teams in Asia; and what we're trying to do is align ourselves to work with the marketplace, but also be efficient for the brand.

So, centralizing the business, we made a conscious decision to do this. And it was not taken lightly at all. So, it was something that we defined to be successful. In essence, it was centralizing the team, it was building a global team, which is where I sit, and then what we were doing, creating, if you will, regional teams as centers of excellence around the world, in our key major markets.

This really helped us get to a place where we made sure e-commerce was first, it was am e-commerce first mindset, and we felt this was something that was going to break down the barriers between retail, and the brand, because when you're working the world of e-commerce or multichannel, the consumer will never see the difference between the brand and e-commerce, they just see the experience with the brand. And we had to break this discipline down in the best way we thought possible and take this into a global structure to be efficient for the marketplace, and our consumers, of course.

Eckerle: OK. We actually have a question, "Does your e-commerce platform provide for product fitting online, and returns if they don't fit," from Paul.

Davis: In returns, and my assumptions, is, well of course we take returns. To be even competitive in the marketplace today in online shopping, you need to be able to facilitate returns. I think the next big is … what we're seeing now, not the next big thing, but it's here today, but can you return omnichannel, or even multichannel, and I'll probably stick with multichannel as my example. The ability to buy something online, if it doesn't fit, you can return it through the mail, or you could take it to the physical store.

Our software does allow for that. We just have to make sure … it's actually more of a business process decision rather than an e-commerce decision, is that you have to have alignment between your e-commerce business or your digital business and your store front business to make sure that they're able to take returns, and when they do take a return, how do you credit the customer, where does that product go, do they even have the facilities in the stores to mail these returns back to a central distribution center.

So, e-commerce-wise, I think most businesses will handle that now; it's more of a business process decision of how you want to handle that.

Eckerle: So, that's a small example of all the small things you had to make sure were in line and working together in all of the different areas that Puma was working in, and it had to go to that minute of a level.

Davis: Absolutely. Going back to the global structure, that's one of the reasons we really pushed that way, because in the past with eight or nine different teams working independently, they each had their own business process. So it was very inconsistent market to market, and then what was happening if you're in Europe shopping, or even in Germany shopping and you go to France to shop, the e-commerce experience was different.

And, we had to centralize, standardize what we did. And obviously you have caveats that local markets for different things, but we had to come up with business processes internally that worked for us globally to set a standard for what we're doing. And I'll be honest, we're still working through those, because you have to go through all of these use case scenarios and figure out what the customer wants and what they're desiring. And sometimes we don't know what we don’t know. We have to wait for it to unveil itself in a real world setting.

Eckerle: Yeah. All right. Well, Tom, going through this whole journey of meeting all of the challenges we've just kind of gone through, tell us, what can the marketers listening to this webinar take away from what you've accomplished and apply to their own efforts?

Davis: Well, I think first and foremost as I was just talking about, getting internal and external alignment, whether it's structure strategy or your goals, or your success factors, need to be aligned. If the outside world is saying one thing but your internal set up is completely the opposite, you're probably going to run into a lot of frustrations. And so I urge people to think about honestly, is your structure is set up to be successful in today's marketplace? That would be the first thing I would challenge everybody with.

As I said earlier, the mobile first economy is here; I call it the PC era is over, in my opinion. I think within the next 12-18 months, we're already seeing it in sales in the real world if you got to Dell or Apple, maybe not Apple, but Dell or any of the big computer companies, their sales have been sliding for the last two years.

I still think we have two thirds more growth to happen in this mobile world, and I think you're going to see companies within the next 12 months start with all of their design in consumer interactions, start with the mobile phone, and then they will build backwards. Think tablets and PCs, where there's so much traffic in the mobile world, it's almost antiquated to build for a PC.

And then obviously number three is what I was talking about when you're going global and thinking multichannel, don't just think about your brand site. That's your site. I'd say two thirds of the world doesn't even understand the concept of a brand site.

If you go into China specifically, nobody would go to on their own. It just does not happen. They go to other marketplaces such as Tmall. That's how they do their shopping. That's the common place; do not just think brand, you have to think multichannel touch points in the digital world as well as the figurative world.

And then last but not least, I truly believe the best retailers going forward, or the best brands going forward, are going to shift and become more analytics companies. And what I mean by that is that they're going to love data. They're going to consume the data, and they're going to make better consumer decisions, or better strategic decisions for their consumers, and you're already seeing that with companies like Walmart, or Amazon, or even Staples, who are creating these labs out of the Silicon Valley area.

Even a brand like Nike, if you go check the headlines, they're buying analytics companies, and that's for their own consumption internally to know how to build products and design products that will satiate their customers. And I truly believe that is going to happen for the best retailers moving forward over the next five-to-10 years.

Eckerle: OK, great. Well, we're all out of time for today, Tom, thank you so much for speaking with us. And thank all of you for attending as well. And I want to apologize for the difficulties we had at the beginning, but I think we got to a lot of great information and be sure to fill out the survey, tell us what worked, what didn't, what you want to see more of to help us continue to improve and evolve these webinars for you. Thank you again, thank you, Tom.

Davis: You bet, and again I apologize that my phone was cutting in and out, but I'm glad I was able to push through that. And good luck to everyone on the phone.