Retail Executive

NOV/DEC 2017

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KEY INSIGHT 3: LET ROADBLOCKS LEAD YOU TO THINK MORE INNOVATIVELY ABOUT HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL. In 2005, I moved away from my home, Nebraska, where I grew up among the cornfields and cows. I was ready to explore and be challenged personally and profession- ally. I was offered the head of e-commerce role at PHE, Inc., an adult products company in North Carolina. With a strategy and plan in hand, I contacted key part- ners including Google, Paypal, and other e-commerce organizations. I received immediate rejections from ev- ery potential partner due to the nature of the category and the experience we had created. It would be nearly impossible to grow without partners like Google. we found striking results. Over 100K items could prof- itably be offered with free shipping and accounted for 60 percent of current revenues. In addition, these items shipped from drop shippers delivering product to cus- tomers within two days. Our value proposition was immediately intriguing: many items, fast shipping, and no threshold on free shipping. ReStockIt.com was one of the first in offering "FAST & FREE shipping on over 100,000+ items." From day one, the results were amaz- ing. Not only did we recognize a 25 percent increase in revenue, but also we had comfort in knowing profitabili- ty would not be compromised. With considerable future upside, we had the energy to holistically think in innova- tive ways about other areas of the business. J E N N I F E R D I M O T TA is President/Owner of DiMotta Consulting LLC, helping retailers strategically grow their e-commerce business. Jennifer held high-ranking positions at bluemercury, Sports Authority, and Hayneedle. She received Colorado's Most Powerful Women Award in 2014. Spending at least 1-2 hours a week with new vendors will give you inspiration for innovation. KEY INSIGHT 2: VENDORS ARE AN EXCELLENT SOURCE OF INNOVATION IN RETAIL. DON'T BE AFRAID TO FIND INNOVATION FROM THEM. Sports Authority was a challenged retail business when I joined to lead e-commerce in 2013, and in the following two years, e-commerce grew from $50M to $200M+ profitability. It was an invaluable experience working with a top-talent e-commerce team that was humble in success and consistently looking to do bet- ter. We had a few key hurdles, the biggest of which was our inability to make significant changes to the web- site. We overcame this hurdle by layering vendor tools that ultimately gave us more control over the website to deliver a better user experience. XSELL Technologies, a live chat and technology ven- dor, was an impactful example of pervading innovative ideas from vendors. Their solution took live chat be- yond the norm with compelling value. Focusing on the core business value, authoritative content (and talent) became tangible tactics that shaped Sports Authority by inviting XSELL's sports enthusiasts to service our customers and in turn accomplish results well beyond our expectations, 10 times the conversion rate of an av- erage online consumer. Spending at least 1-2 hours a week with new vendors will give you inspiration for innovation. The key to pri- oritization is to align innovation wholly to core val- ue propositions. There are too many technologies out there. Be well informed when narrowing down to the ones that matter. Every peer executive suggested I keep with the compa- ny's current brand strategy and just "get used to rejec- tion." My research and gut told me otherwise. I went for it and built a new brand and marketing strategy online. It was a risk without buy-in (except from my boss), but I knew our roadblocks were a sign to think differently about the business. Within six months, we built a new site experience that was female friendly, viewer friend- ly (no "adult" imagery), and a high-end experience. Every rejection turned into an opportunity, and with- in three years sales more than doubled. More impor- tantly, women were our new primary buyers and we were twice as profitable. Roadblocks are an invaluable occurrence forcing you to dig deeper about how you will move forward. Lean into roadblocks and use them to energize you and your teams to think about out-of-the-box solu- tions to success. I don't believe the above is rocket science but rather is grounded in smart solutions to the basics and fun- damentals, which are critically underrated in regards to impact on results. Innovative thinking, applied in or- ganizations struggling with the current state of retail, isn't about shiny pennies but rather results. R RETAILEXECUTIVE.COM NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 33

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