Coresight Research and eShopWorld have partnered to create this first-of-its-kind list of visionaries, thought leaders, and experts driving eCommerce excellence for brands and retailers today. Global selling is currently the most important growth opportunity for retailers, and we want to highlight those who are showing the world how to do it right.
Business Insider described Adam Sussman as "one of the chief architects of Nike's digital revolution." Nike’s reach gives it a presence in over 190 countries, connecting with hundreds of millions of athletes. Sussman states that mobile in particular has permitted the brand to “scale it all over the world,” while still remaining true to its cofounder’s vision of creating personal connections. Sussman has also said, “At Nike, we like to say our only competition is our own potential. We know the world’s sports and shopping are always going to evolve, but Nike is staying right where we belong, out in front serving consumers one-to-one personally, no matter where they are.”
Walmart | Jet.com
Marc Lore wanted to be a farmer when he grew up. Instead, Lore took his “intrinsic desire to make things grow” and became a serial entrepreneur, starting (and selling) several online businesses, including Jet.com. Since acquiring Jet.com and Lore, Walmart has sought to broaden growth and market share by focusing on the global picture. Its expanding omni-channel presence in China’s app markets has benefited from partnerships with Tencent and JD.com, going so far as to reach 200 Walmart stores that offer grocery delivery in less than one hour through the Dada-JD Daojia delivery platform. Elsewhere, Walmart made significant progress in its goal to unlock India’s approximately $200 billion online market when it acquired a 77% stake in online retailer, Flipkart, giving Walmart the means to reach 120 million new customers throughout the subcontinent. When asked what distinguishes a visionary from an entrepreneur, Marc answered the question with a question: "Are you prepared to lay it all on the line and go all in – financially and emotionally – with no easy way out?”
Max Mara Group
Andrea says his greatest accomplishment is team building, a feat he has undertaken over the past three years building up one of the largest digital divisions in the mono-brand luxury space in Europe. Andrea knows the importance of ensuring that well-established European fashion brands and retailers learn to operate in the fast-paced global eCommerce world in which younger, digitally native brands thrive. He believes that the future battles in retail will be won by those with omnichannel operational excellence, a superior customer experience, full knowledge of their customer base, and a fully integrated digital strategy that incorporates consistent messaging across all channels (owned, franchisee, wholesale) at a global scale. According to Andrea, this will be accomplished only by leveraging the most advanced MarTech technologies and AI approaches.
Mary Beth Laughton
Mary Beth Laughton's entire career has been shaped -- and driven -- by seeing herself as blazing a trail, asking provocative questions along the way, yet remaining comfortable not having all the answers. She approaches everything in her work from the omnichannel perspective, which she calls an "omnitude mindset," utilizing a mix of personalization and technology to enhance the shopping experience. One must over-deliver, exceeding the high expectations of consumers. Sephora’s mobile-first world marketing strategy developed by focusing on amazing client experiences first, driving sales second. All the while, Sephora recognized a mobile strategy would not work if it wasn't consistent with the overall company strategy. Laughton maintains opportunity exists to build demand in new markets through use of mobile apps and a playful, innovative approach across retail channels.
Farfetch connects consumers with more than 2,000 designers from over 140 boutiques (including Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Burberry, Fendi, Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Valentino and Versace). The company creates white label storefronts and builds online infrastructure for retailers and brand owners, including services like 90-minute delivery, which is available in ten cities worldwide. Farfetch aims to connect current luxury fashion retailers and brands with consumers anywhere on the planet without compromising branding and established consumer loyalty. Robb says, "As a COO, my role is varied, but is mainly focused on overseeing all the activities Farfetch implements to grow its business from an operations point of view...Farfetch is a global business, so we have been expanding our footprint across markets including China, Japan, and Russia amongst others." Harrods is the latest retailer to use Farfetch to build out its global e-commerce capabilities.
Wainwright created her dream job, starting small at her kitchen table, eventually building The RealReal into the premier site for online luxury consignment with multiple sites across the United States, accepting and shipping goods around the world. Authentication is crucial to the company’s identity -- Wainwright says, “It’s who we are. Every customer can trust that the item they purchase is authentic.” Matching the luxury experience of the brands with the customer experience is a differentiator. Global citizenship is another critical component to The RealReal, upending the linear economy of make-use-dispose into a circular one, encouraging use of of quality items for as long as possible between different owners. This circular model permits buyers and sellers to consciously consume, contributing to an overall more sustainable fashion economy.
Ikea is in the midst of a transformation, shifting resources toward emerging markets and alternative shipping experiences, including e-commerce and city center stores to meet the changing needs of its customers. Lööf is on record stating that Ikea has the potential to reach and interact with three billion people by 2025, utilizing a variety of new ways to shop, including online. More recently, Ikea announced it is exploring creating its own digital marketplace, a move that would allow it to follow in the footsteps of Amazon, Alibaba, and others, evolving from retailer to tech company. Lööf believes there are “tons of opportunities” worth exploring between the dominating, big global platforms and the company website.
The Home Depot
Matt Carey continues to focus on his mission to “create an interconnected retail experience” utilizing physical and digital assets, transforming the customer experience across all channels, whether in stores, a person’s home, or online (including mobile). Home Depot builds its technology in-house because its business is so different from other brick-and-mortar retailers. According to Carey, "Our team is building some of the most advanced software anywhere to help customers shop whenever, wherever and however they want." Home-Depot’s in-house approach was affirmed when it was named one of Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2018.
While many international luxury retailers are struggling to keep up in today’s digital-first world, Gucci has emerged as a leader in the space by embracing technology and replicating their luxurious in-store experience online with visually rich and interactive websites. Their successful global e-commerce program keeps their branding front and center while providing a consistent customer experience throughout the world. Gucci has also mastered the use of social media, creating visually artistic and pop culture-driven campaigns on Instagram to share with their nearly 35 million followers. In 2018, Bloomberg reported that the brand's parent company Kering SA's shares rose more than six percent after the "white-hot Gucci brand kept up its relentless growth pace at the start of the year, with online sales more than doubling in the first quarter." Gucci plans to triple e-commerce sales to around 10 percent of revenue as it rolls out new shopping platforms from New Zealand to Mexico.
Once Senior Director of Online Marketing at Walmart, Loren Simon embraces Everlane’s philosophy of being “Radically Transparent,” extolling the belief that customers have a right to know how much their clothes cost to make, including materials, labor and transportation. Overstocked goods are even offered as “Choose what you pay” items. Everlane takes their role as global citizen seriously. Each potential manufacturer of its products is given a compliance audit, measuring factors like fair wages, reasonable hours, and overall environment. Their goal is a score of 90 or above for every manufacturing partner, and they share stories about every factory they work with. In accordance with the California Supply Chain Transparency Act, Everlane is vigilant in ensuring human trafficking and slavery do not exist anywhere in their supply chain. One of their core missions is to make online shopping better than offline, creating a great mobile experience worldwide. Though they developed a mobile app, they shut it down in late 2016, honing their focus on improving the online web experience from any device anywhere in the world.
John Galantic and Gregory Baratte
Chanel takes the lead in demonstrating the power of social media to build a global audience while maintaining the exclusivity the brand is known for. Despite its millions of followers, Chanel famously does not follow back (with the exception of Chanel Beauty on Instagram). Chanel also works with carefully selected social media influencers to maintain their carefully cultivated aspirational image. When Instagram Shopping launched in 2018, Chanel was the first company to beta test the service, which identifies the origin of each user and list products in their local currency. Violaine Gresser, Client Partner at Facebook, calls this “a first step towards social commerce.” For Chanel, thinking globally is to create operational efficiencies never before seen, while simultaneously becoming more deeply customer centric, evidence of a huge transformation currently underway.
The Kroger Co.
Yael Cosset is responsible for leading Kroger’s digital strategy, focused on building Kroger’s presence in the marketplace in digital channels, personalization, and e-commerce. Cosset is on record praising e-commerce and its ability to enable Kroger to quickly scale up, broadening its reach to new customers and markets where it does not operate physical stores, “starting with China.” Thanks to a partnership with Alibaba, Kroger now sells its Simple Truth brand products in China on Alibaba’s Tmall Global virtual storefront. This enables Alibaba “to meet Chinese consumers’ growing demand for high-quality, organic food products,” according to one spokesman. Kroger also announced major strategy shifts in late 2018, signing an exclusive deal with British online grocer Ocado to build automated warehouses to prepare curbside pickup and delivery orders, as well as launching an expanded U.S. online shopping service that will send packages directly from its distribution centers.
Award-winning CIO Diane Randolph is quick to share the credit with the entire Ulta team. “Collaborating across the entire organization has helped develop initiatives that look at all angles of an idea and include many points of view.” Corporate teamwork led to creating a mobile app that “complements and enriches” the in-store experience by including features, like GlamLab, which permits guests (Ulta’s preferred term for its customers) to try on any product virtually. Consistent guest experience is a key driver across all “guest-facing” systems, no matter how she wants to shop. Whether in-store, online, or via Ulta’s mobile app, a single brand experience is ultimately delivered, no matter which channel the guest chooses.
Scott Johnson takes his role at Harrods seriously, ensuring their online experience is top-notch, especially for consumers around the world who are unable to visit the physical store. Unlike other luxury retailers, Harrods' online presence includes all the same brands found in their physical store. Johnson has made every effort to ensure Harrods' website is among the best around: “We’re looking to create the environment that houses the world’s best brands and sets the global standard in customer experience [while] looking to anticipate and exceed those customers’ desires…” Harrods has recently invested over £200 million in both in-store and online offerings, focusing on replicating the physical experience in the digital world as much as possible.
Abel Lopez Cernadas
Inditex is the second largest textile manufacturer on earth (only Nike is larger). López has said, “Fast logistics is the key to the further growth of Inditex.” As of November 2018, Zara, the flagship brand of Inditex Group, was operating stores in 96 markets. Some online orders are shipped from stores in the country closest to where the shopper lives, but in several markets, shoppers also have the option to purchase goods online and pick them up in-store. Zara is also expanding online sales in 106 new regions around the world (most new markets are in Africa, the Caribbean, and Indonesia) while aiming to ensure all Inditex brands are available globally by 2020.
Jane Lu’s Showpo is a success story built on its savvy use of social media. While most e-commerce stores confine themselves to a few proven marketing channels, Jane Lu utilizes her passion for social media to almost intuitively discover and leverage new channels. Showpo recognized early on the potential of working with social media influencers to effectively tap into new markets; capitalizing on the reputation and brand of the influencer, while simultaneously deepening its own reputation and brand loyalty. Showpo’s unconventional marketing works, as their international revenue is currently growing faster than their fairly high domestic growth in Australia. Looking ahead, Showpo’s multi-pronged focus includes product diversification, global expansion, improved user experience (both online and app, as well as product fulfillment and customer service). While acknowledging “a lot of competition,” Jane Lu says competition is a catalyst for innovation and taking risks, “which is what we love.”
Fast Retailing does not perceive Amazon or Zozo as a competitive threat because they believe their strength lies in controlling the entire process, including manufacturing, developing materials, factory management, logistics, distribution, and even marketing surveys. They are spending nearly $1 billion to automate their warehouses around the world by 2021 to address labor shortages, reduce storage costs, and deliver products to customers more quickly. Fast Retailing is also investing heavily in e-commerce, not only to be everywhere at any time to customers anywhere in the world, but also because they recognize customer data is equal to product information. To that end, Fast Retailing has teamed up with Google to have access to its machine learning and image recognition technology, with a goal toward analyzing product trends and predicting consumer demand.
Away is growing faster than the luggage industry overall, thanks to the vision of co-founders Steph Korey and Jen Rubio. That success is due in large part to innovative approaches in fulfillment and marketing, as well as offering quality products at a price point where there was little competition. Early in the process, Korey and Rubio decided to design and manufacture top-quality luggage and offer it directly to consumers. Their research led them to believe that upending the traditional sales model would permit them to create a high-end product at a lower cost, allowing them to pass along savings to consumers, create value, and still turn a profit. Since those early days, Away has positioned themselves as an aspirational brand, thanks to a combination of intelligent journalistic marketing combined with powerful user-generated content on social media. In fact, Away’s current customers are among the most energizing tools in their marketing arsenal. Their partnership with Peace Direct, a non-profit building peace in areas of conflict around the world, only enhances their image to the consumers they presently attract.
Under Armour Inc.
Despite the fact that e-commerce is part of his job title, Sid Jatia does not think it accurately depicts his role. Instead, he believes we are now in an age of digital commerce, where to be successful, one must create complete shopping experiences across all channels. Under Armour believes it all comes down to cultivating consumer desire, giving it such high priority that every employee, every business unit, every channel is directly accountable for customer engagement. Under Armour recently partnered with Amazon, recognizing their e-commerce platform’s standing as a central point for retail research, consumer reviews and “need-based” shopping. Jatia is on record stating, “Fifty-five percent of all searches in retail are starting on Amazon. [...] Partnering with Amazon thus constitutes a realistic response to the evolving ‘consumer journey’ for buyers who instinctively visit the site whenever they embark upon a prospective purchase.”
In 2006, Burberry begain its transformation from a luxury brand mostly worn by older clientele to one for fashionable millennials. Digital became central to their way of thinking, with the goal to ensure that customers would enjoy the same experience whether shopping online or in-store. Today, around 40% of the brand's online sales come via mobile devices. Burberry is one of the leaders in the fashion luxury category when it comes to omnichannel offerings as well--shoppers can buy online and pick up in-store, access a unified shopping cart on mobile and desktop, and shop via social platforms. Burberry announced a partnership with Farfetch in early 2018, expanding their global reach to more than 150 countries. The brand's entire inventory will be available online, “with the specific aim of strengthening its e-commerce presence and appealing to young, tech-savvy consumers.
ASOS Plc Holdings
The constant in Andrea Trocino’s career is his passion for customer experience and technology. His principal focus is creating best-in-class experiences in e-commerce, particularly in mobile. Trocino’s drive has been nurtured by past roles at companies as diverse as SapientNitro, Useablenet, and YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP. Trocino thoroughly enjoys his role as visionary, architect, and leader, relishing the entire process -- from initial concept to developing strategy and structure, to hiring the teams necessary to “build, launch, and shape the future of these solutions.” In a constantly evolving e-commerce landscape, flexibility and innovation are the keys to Andrea's success.
Rami Atallah’s Montreal-based SSENSE has a global presence, and is on track to hit $1B (Canadian) in 2020. Not bad for a fashion platform and e-tailing business that began as a graduate thesis for Atallah’s computer engineering degree, and has been profitable (without outside investment) since day one. SSENSE found its niche promoting the streetwear-meets-luxury aesthetic, without separating high-fashion from mass-market goods, stocking a more non-traditional and carefully curated selection. Its depth of consumer data informs every business decision. Recent SSENSE developments include opening an experiential flagship store in Montréal (they are exploring opening stores in other cities worldwide, “each location tailored to local tastes”) and launching a campaign to boost China sales, adding both Mandarin and Cantonese options on the website. Future projects include offering same-day delivery, something that will become easier once they establish additional warehouses around the world. Atallah’s passion for his one-time university project has not waned: “I believe we are doing something no one else is doing or can do. We need to raise customers’ expectations and blow people’s minds.”
Julie Averill strongly believes in her customer and in the role technology plays in moving the business to where the customer wants it. “Technology is so key; every strategy that a business has today is predicated on successful technology.” To that end, Averill has put together a strong global technology team, aligned with Lululemon’s business goals, responsive to the evolving needs of the consumer. Technology applies to every aspect of the operation, from website and stores up front, to inventory management and warehouses behind the scenes, facilitating a seamless experience for the consumer. She also recognizes that Lululemon must operate in an omnichannel space because their “guests value both the physical connection [in stores] and the ease and immediacy of digital.”
An expert in developing design, lifestyle, and luxury experiences, Andrea Dorigo at Estée Lauder knows that consumers are at the heart of the retail journey. The company's goal is to assist consumers in making the best personal connection with their brands. They do this by offering shoppers a “seamless experience across multiple channels,” recognizing the next customer may come to them through a blog, a review or comment on social media, and even sampling product at a store. Estée Lauder was a pioneer in the world of digital commerce, with their first e-commerce sites launched in 1996. Today, they have nearly 1,700 e-commerce sites in over 40 countries and territories worldwide. Estée Lauder takes pride in the fact that each of their brands “develops its unique digital footprint,” but still learns from one another, sharing this example on their website: “[W]hen Clinique launched a flagship store on Tmall, the Chinese-language shopping platform, it attracted more than 100,000 new consumers to the brand in the first year. Many of the consumers were from smaller Chinese cities where we have little or no distribution, and they were introduced to the brand on Tmall. Building on that success, Estée Lauder, Origins and other brands launched their own Tmall stores.”
Lubomira Rochet has been a key player in establishing digital as the foundation of L’Oréal's business model with the vision of inventing the future of beauty. The company has always been a trailblazer in the online beauty market, opening its first Lancôme boutique in 1997. More recently, L’Oréal has moved away from its original goal to be the number one beauty brand to instead become “the number one beauty tech company.” To make that goal a reality, they increased the number of “in-house” digital specialists from 300 in 2014 to nearly 3,000 today, worldwide. Going forward, L’Oréal’s acquisition of Modiface encourages consumers to try products virtually, thanks to augmented reality technology. In that same vein, L’Oréal is partnering with Facebook to further develop augmented reality to improve customer experience and drive e-commerce sales, taking advantage of the evolution of Facebook and Instagram into e-commerce platforms. L’Oréal is excited at how the future of beauty technology will develop, bringing about greater levels of service, customization, and personalization.
How were finalists chosen?
Retail industry leaders and experts from around the world were asked to submit nominees, prompted by the question, “Who is driving the successful growth of global eCommerce today?” The finalists were all nominated by multiple submitters and were judged according to criteria such as success in global selling, cross-border retail innovation, and influence in driving or shaping global eCommerce solutions.
For brands and retailers, we considered each nominee’s percentage of eCommerce sales generated outside the company’s home market, channel usage within each market, quality of shopper experience across regions, and overall success in building a superior global eCommerce experience. Votes were gathered from participants across the retail industry.
Executives at global marketplaces were not eligible for final selection.About eShopWorld
Established in 2010, eShopWorld’s core e-commerce solution connects premium brands with consumers in more than 200 countries. Headquartered in Ireland, eShopWorld has offices in Ireland, the US, Singapore and the Netherlands. The company is privately owned by Tommy Kelly and Asendia, a joint venture between La Poste (France) and SwissPost (Switzerland).About Coresight Research
Coresight Research is a research and advisory firm specializing in disruptive technologies reshaping today’s retail landscape. Coresight Research has a global presence spanning the US, Europe and Asia, including deep expertise in the fast-changing China market.