E-commerce, Innovation, Marketing How do you adapt to changes in customer behavior and e-commerce trends? | Innovation Roundtable Q&A
How difficult was it in each one of your companies to see as to where exactly things were headed specifically in terms of the changing or evolving consumer behavior, and how? How did you really even listen to these changes in a company which is huge like ups, for example, michelle is mammoth right effectively. I mean it’s, just a gargantual organization. So what are the different processes yeah? So we just. We really went after the voice of the customer, you know. Normally in in the past, we like to really think that we knew our customers well and we’d like to innovate, based on our interaction from sales and marketing with customers. But this time we did things a little bit differently. We sat down just like we’re having this conversation on video and really had one on one interviews with customers of all segments and all backgrounds and really just listen. What do you need like? What do you need right now? What is your biggest challenge? What are you you’re facing right so throw everything that we thought we knew about your business out the window, because your business just shifted as lewis pointed out and tell me: what do you need in some instances we found out that we have those solutions we just Needed to remarket them and reposition them with certain customers, and then there were others that we figured out. You know what we don’t have that, but let’s get it right and it broke that up into pieces in different several project teams and implemented agile type, development and minimum viable products.
But it all started with really changing the way that we got the voice of the customer, one on one videotaping conversations and just letting them be open and raw and in some cases so emotional. If you listen to some of the interviews, it was so epoch, like my business, is falling apart. I need this. I need that um. So just really, that was the first time. We really done that. We did that in a large capacity and then we went back to the table and we had these innovation roundtables. If you say within our own company, we brought different, diverse backgrounds of different people, whether we brought i.e together, engineering or you know, marketing accounting cells like we brought different backgrounds together and sat down and said, hey here’s, a list of everything that we found out from The voice of the customer let’s break it into different pieces, and then what can we go after right now? What do we need to put on the back burner? What can we fix? How fast can we get something to market and really just you know, pull it up rolled up our shoulders and dug in so the entire process of how we innovated completely changed luis anything specifically yeah i’ll jump in on this one um, so i’m gon na pivot Away from digital just a little bit and give an example from our product development team um, because their their vision and the way they approach.
Innovation is a little different because you know bourbon bourbon needs to sit in barrels for years and years and years and years before someone can enjoy it. So the two examples i’ll give from an innovation perspective. The first was, you know to michelle’s point um crowdsourcing. So there are certain standards that are are needed for a whiskey to be called bourbon and we did a crowdsourcing effort a few years back called craft, your own bourbon or crack craft or vest bourbon, and it basically was asking consumers what ingredients they’d like to see. The most whether it was you know, ryerson barley, and that became an actual product and happy to say that just this past february it won world’s best bourbon in the world. Whiskey awards so that’s just an example of taking consumer feedback, turning it into a physical product that could then be leveraged uh. The second example actually, probably somewhat by accident. It was a terrible storm that damaged one of the warehouses. Some of the barrels were exposed to the elements over time it turned out. Some of those barrels were very, very good bourbons, so we now have an entire warehouse warehouse x, dedicated to nothing but experimentation, and the first experiments were just purely based on temperature, lower temperature, higher temperature fluctuating temperature exposed to elements over six million data points were collected And those now i am happy to also say, are stored away being aged and, at some point will be barrels that we uh release as net new product to the market.
So from a long time horizon. How do you start thinking about innovation between crowdsourcing and then just using data uh available to the the distillers master distillers to create something new and different? Those are two of the places that we put some focus over the last few years lewis. My mouth is watering uh, anything to add aaron christine on that part, i mean again a six year old company, the innovation process and the examples, i’m pretty sure, are very different. Yeah i mean i, you know for the the these other guys, so thousands of employees, our process is a little different um, something is broken. We just rip it up and start new the next day, it’s a little easier um. You know i i take one person of my. You know less than 10 person team and say hey guys, we’re changing this uh, you know go read everything you can about it on the internet and hire a vendor in the next two days and let’s let’s wing. It um it’s definitely a little different, so you know we we were able to do some pretty crazy, pivots, um and incredibly quickly. We bye bye, baby um had been one of our top distribution outlets and they all closed, obviously, and then bye, bye, baby’s parent bed, rathbian was in some credit trouble. It appeared so we literally shut them off almost overnight and redirected. All that inventory to amazon gdc and then it was – i mean it was literally within a single week.
I think, within probably two or three days that those decisions were made um, but we we have luxuries like that, because you know our systems aren’t so old and antiquated – that we can make 180 changes in a relatively short period of time. So it’s very different for us. I think that’s powerful, though, and i think that’s stupid, that smbs need to use when it comes to innovation, is don’t, be afraid to fail and try something new, because you can be agile and if it doesn’t work, then next week they try something else. You know it’s the the fact that you have the ability to make those changes. So quick and i talk to smds all the time. Do it go with what your cut is telling you do it try it measure the results and then change from there and so i’m glad aaron that you guys were able to do that because that had to have been rough right. That’S my go to bye, bye, baby right, so they closed down. All we had was amazon so the way that the fact that you were able to do that and not afraid to do so. You didn’t sit on it and ponder for weeks. I think when it comes to innovating and taking advantage of the moment that’s what you want to do, yeah i mean. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the choice. I’D love to take some credit, but i don’t know that we can but the net outcome i mean.
I think you raise a valid point that small companies should really keep in mind um, which is that we picked up a ton of market share as a result of that pivot um, and that is. That is an advantage that smaller companies have that they should always think about, and hopefully approximately take risks like that totally and i think yeah one thing i can add um just from a lulu’s perspective, is uh. We, you know we’ve been around for a while um, but again with everything e commerce like we were able to move pretty nimbly on things, and so one thing that i think just so amazed by the team for doing is again like on a skeleton crew, because We did have to um reduce our employee side for a bit on a skeleton crew. We decided okay, let’s, take a look at the trends. What’S going to happen, started trying to make predictions, and we realized look a lot of like a lot of events. A lot of weddings are getting canceled, of course, um, but they’re going to be back and so kind of anticipating this demand, and also knowing that we had to expand our business in order to really be able to capitalize and and really drive um forward after the Pandemic, what we ended up doing is: we ended up launching it’s the biggest like 360 launch. We had ever launched to date in january um, which was weddings, so we had taken a look at uh, taking a look at the data just knew sort of where the industry was going.
We had also taken a look at all of our consumer data, and everyone was coming to us for wedding guest dresses for bridesmaids dresses, and so it felt only natural for us to come out with bridal gowns and our positioning has always been hey. We want to make sure that we’re delivering a real value in our product um and delivering that at an affordable or approachable price, and that was one of the areas that we scoped out, that we could really make an impact for our customers knowing bride’s gone through. So much during the pandemic, i just can’t. Imagine the this there’s already a stress of planning, a wedding, and then you have covered and canceled plans and everything on top of that um. So we wanted to give them something special. We were able to offer our dresses. We have over 300 dresses on the site right now that um are between 88 and 300 dollars, um, so pretty amazing, and then we focused on giving them little special plus ups like if you get a dress from us, it’s going to come in one of those Beautiful, like bridal, like dress bags, it’s not going to be it’s not going to just you know, be in the your usual packing material it’s, a special box it’s, a special experience just trying to give them a little something extra, very useful excellent. So i can just again back to you on on the launch, so aaron gave us a great example of a small company being able to do things very very quickly.
Right, it’s almost like a fail, faster approach, but i mean i’m pretty sure when you really use that almost like the wisdom of crowds to rethink the entire process. Was it done by a smaller team or how many people were involved and how much of executive leadership support is required to get something done like that? Yeah, the the the advantage of being in a large, privately owned company is lots of entrepreneurship around the buildings. So the idea came up, it was pitched and leadership was behind it. So a lot of a lot of it comes, you know, you know thank our brand teams and our master distillery team, for you know the insight and uh in all honesty, it’s, one of those a little bit of art a little bit of science, um great idea. Everyone was aligned around it and it’s one of those that was just a no brainer, so not one of those difficult decisions that had to go through lots of red tape and up and down for board approvals.