Case study: e-commerce strategy for a UK bicycle manufacturer
Adam Gates, Lead Principal at Odgers Connect talks to independent consultant Lisa Weaver-Lambert about her recent assignment at one of the UK’s largest bicycle manufacturers
With an award winning, premium and highly-successful product, one of the UK’s largest bicycle manufacturers sought to capitalise on this foundation and pursue an omni-channel approach which would allow for international growth. To do so, they required a strategic analysis of their e-commerce strategy, investment plans and capabilities. This included an assessment of the viability of their financial strategy to support its e-commerce/omni-channel ambition, internal skillsets, external partners and the digital customer journey compared to key competitors.
The company therefore turned to Odgers Connect for an e-commerce strategy consultant who could advise them on the best approach and offer expert insights on the omni-channel strategy they wished to pursue. To help them achieve this, the company appointed Lisa Weaver-Lambert, an independent consultant who previously worked for Accenture’s Strategy & Business Architecture practice and has a specialist skillset in the retail and consumer sectors. Boasting over twelve years of independent consulting experience for industry giants including De Beers Group, Harrods and Harvey Nichols, Lisa came equipped with a highly relevant toolkit of consulting expertise and tacit knowledge.
Lisa started with an in-depth analysis of what the company wanted to achieve with its e-commerce strategy and how it planned to get there. Very quickly, she identified a number of pain points that would throw up significant roadblocks on their journey to a global omni-channel approach.
Her analysis found that the company lacked the in-depth e-commerce skills that they needed and their Head of IT was bandwidth constrained to realistically drive their e-commerce strategy at the pace that was required. The company’s digital infrastructure was also disparately spread across the business, with the Head of IT and Head of Customer Journey driving different levels of technology investment for their specific needs. It meant that the digital infrastructure was unsuitable for hosting the form of e-commerce capability the company required in order to grow. What’s more, Lisa also found that the company lacked a comprehensive data management strategy; something that is putting the company at risk and will hold them back when it came to scaling up their e-commerce.
“As a traditional manufacturing company, their heart was very much in manufacturing. Whilst they have an excellent product that is ideal for e-commerce, they had treated e-commerce as more of a side-line project rather than something that required dedicated skillsets, planned and integrated technology and a seamless, intuitive purchasing experience that consumers would expect from a brand lauded for ease and functionality,” Lisa told me.
Following Lisa’s diagnosis of the financial outlook for e-commerce, as well as where the company was from a technical standpoint, the e-commerce strategy became a key priority for the CEO and Lisa was able to make him aware of what the company needed to do in order achieve a fully comprehensive e-commerce offering. Importantly, the CEO became aware that the fragility of the e-commerce technical architecture was putting the key business priorities at risk.
“Getting e-commerce on the CEO’s agenda was the biggest achievement due to the risk to his key priorities of implementing a new ERP system and launch of a new product. Because of their internal technical resource constraints recommendation for the next 12 months was that the business needed to outsource its e-commerce to a third party logistics company or take a marketplace approach to avoid further stress on the company, allowing them to achieve their primary objectives and giving them the time to evaluate their technology infrastructure,” Lisa said. Her work with the company has meant they now have a much clearer picture of their own omni-channel capabilities, the steps they need to take in order to achieve a global e-commerce offering and a realistic outlook of their financial plan and sales forecast.