Recently, we got the opportunity to interview Abbott Lyon’s eCommerce & Operations Director James Dunford to drop some knowledge bombs.
- Brief introduction about yourself
- Having a decade of experience in eCommerce space, what do you think as a major change happened along the way?
- Can you talk about your role in Abbott Lyon?
- When did the idea of selling customized products start in your organization?
- Abbott Lyon could have built the customization software on their own. Is there any specific reason to choose a SAAS product like ours?
- What are the key challenges you faced technically & operational wise when you deploy customization feature to your products?
- How customization impacted the business?
- Do you have any advice for people who are planning to sell customized products?
- As an end-consumer, what are the big changes we can expect from eCommerce players like yours for the year 2018?
Prabhu: James, can you give us a brief introduction about yourself and how you became a digital marketer?
James: I got into digital marketing ten years ago. Just started with messing around the internet and I got involved with eCommerce retailer. Mostly fashion and apparel – watches, clothing and sports goods and I am with Abbott Lyon for the past 18 months.
Prabhu: James, you have more than ten years of experience in the eCommerce industry. What do you see as a significant shift in this industry?
James: Good question, I think the key is, it is much more sophisticated mature market than it was first started. We have gone past a time where enormous gains have happened by making small changes. Now we have very established retailers across the eCommerce spectrum, and I think the big one for us as a merchant is the benefit from Influencer Marketing. There is a real shift away from paid search advertising because it is very much intent driven and I think that’s why things like influencer marketing are found out by brands like ours. A result of that, traffic to the website is exceptionally mobile heavy.
Prabhu: Can you talk to us about your role in Abbott Lyon? Can you give us a sneak peek into to your role both from marketing & operations standpoint?
James: I look after our website and digital marketing operations that range from making sure our website didn’t get crash when it gets high traffic. In operations, my responsibility includes handling the customized engraving part that was launched last year with the help from you guys. I also make sure that both offline and online logistics work together in unison.
Prabhu: When did the idea of selling customized products started in your organization? Were you guys thinking about it for a long time?
James: Yes, we wanted to do it for a long time. Our internal team came up with the idea. We have seen few similar brands doing similar things but not quite the same. Now we get the idea about it and then obviously came and spoke to you guys in the middle of last year to try and get solutions. It’s been really successful for us. We are pleased with what we have done and the plan is to keep doing it.
Prabhu: Abbott Lyon could have built the customization software on their own. Is there any specific reason to choose a SAAS product like ours?
James: The reason to pick SAAS is that of updates. If we built the solutions by in-house, it would have been great on day one but on day 180 or 12 months down the lane, when we need any change that’s when it would become much harder for using a custom built solution. That’s the real reason for picking a SAAS based solution. Especially it’s much easier to deploy on multiple websites which is a crucial feature for us.
Prabhu: What are the key challenges you faced technically & operational wise when you deploy customization feature to your products?
James: Technically, it was getting all the products live and making sure it works well on different types of products. So it’s really easy to start with a particular selection of products and then there is another product that someone thinks we can try engraving. So I think the key for us is understanding how the software work and reviewing each week’s improvements as well. Then it’s just a matter of time and training to get used to.
Prabhu: Now that it’s been 4 months since you’ve started selling customized jewelry, how has this move impacted the sales numbers?
James: I’d rather not discuss too much in terms of numbers but it’s certainly something we are pleased with the results and we are planning to continue doing.
Prabhu: Do you have any advice for people who are planning to sell customized products? How should they go about it?
James: Yes, Lots. First thing I would say is, make sure you plan out your full product catalog that you like to engrave or customize in the very first place. So there is no point in saying you are going to provide customization for a wide range of T-shirts and then just before launch adding jeans and other products. Make sure you have full range ready when you first start the project.
Next, I would say you put proper QC(Quality Control) and price in place to all the products that go out. There is nothing worse than delivering wrong product/size to your customers.
Make sure it works well on mobile. It’s vital for us to make tools that are as simple as possible.
Customization is great and you can easily get carried away, so it’s better to start with few products and get processed out. We first launched with small range to get some data and understand the customers.
To start with a smaller section of products and see if it’s working for you before offering customization to full range of products.
Prabhu: As an end-consumer, what are the big changes we can expect from eCommerce players like yours. Brands like yours started offline stores as well. What can we expect for 2018?
James: The brick-and-mortar stores help retailers to offer a better experience to users in terms of touch and feel of the product, which in turn increases the relationship with the customers. Furthermore, there are many things to take care of when it comes to delivering a better experience to the consumers. The jewelry industry hasn’t employed AI as in other industry but that’s what we need to concentrate on in coming years. We have to trust the technology that we have on offer. It would be excellent if we could suggest alternate cross-selling and fix dynamic pricing from the available data, customer behavior, and others. Companies now are trying to outsmart each other with this kind of improvements to target individual customers and their interests. As retailers, we need to concentrate more on customer satisfaction and what they seek for.
I would like to thank James for sharing his knowledge with us.
P.S: James you are awesome, we are lucky to have Abbott Lyon on our client list.