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PUMA’s Secret Sauce: Growth, Efficiency and Adaptation

Dylan Valade, Head of Global E-Commerce Technology at PUMA, discusses building a global platform and adapting to a changing landscape with speed, efficiency and a focus on the metrics that matter.

For more than 15 years, Dylan Valade was working at his own company designing some of the coolest eCommerce and technological projects in the world. One of his world-class clients? PUMA. So when the sports brand approached Dylan to join their team full-time to lead their global eCommerce division in Germany, it was a tough choice. But ultimately Dylan was excited about the opportunity to completely revamp the eCommerce platform at PUMA and turn it into a leader in the industry. 

Today, Dylan is the Head of Global E-Commerce Technology, PUMA. On this episode of Up Next In Commerce, Dylan explains what he was focused on during those initial steps of the transformation process and how being a change manager is like being a time traveler. Plus, he discusses how eCommerce is changing and what he thinks is up next in the industry. (Hint: Get ready to see even more automation.) 

3 Takeaways:

  • Your data needs to be useful and accurate measures of what is real, otherwise you will not be able to effectively grow or change in the ways that best suit the business
  • eCommerce is about meeting the customer where they are at, and in today’s world, that means providing a platform optimized for a world safe-at-home
  • Digital eCommerce disruption will come from countries where the population is more comfortable with change 

For a more in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below.

Key Quotes:

[On creating unified reporting systems] “People are very reliant on the data and the reports that they have. And when you start screwing around with the tools that they’re using and the interfaces that they’re using to collect that information, the reports will change. And even if the reports were wrong before they trusted them, when we made these changes, everybody’s report is no longer accurate. And what we learned again later was that the reports weren’t right the first time. So there was a whole lot of discussion around who’s got the true source of data, who’s responsible for maintaining that. So then now as the new feature is introduced in one country and it might impact another, whose job is it to make everyone else aware? So a lot of the questions became focused around communication when you start to really centralize services. And that was a big step for us.” 

“One of the biggest changes we made that ended up being really helpful was basically identifying that in your report at a country level if you’re unable to deliver product outside of that country or that economic region, don’t really consider that traffic in your actual conversion reporting because it’s impossible for the person to convert if you don’t even ship to where they live. So when you start looking at it in a more like what’s possible, where reality comes into this, I find that you get something you can make use out of. So now if we have decisions being made about the success of the campaign, but 20% of the traffic was people just coming in from other countries, it isn’t realistic to say that this campaign was a failure or success.” 

“We’re really trying to make the absolute most out of every performance marketing dollar and euro spent. A lot of it is education for people who have been doing traditional brand marketing. It’s about just getting Puma out in front of the whole world but also what can we do to support Puma’s direct to consumer path right now, especially when the retailers aren’t open in all markets? So there’s a lot of learning that’s just new for the organization, which is a 70-year-old wholesale distributor model, product design and distribution, not direct to consumer.”

“One of the most exciting things for me about this whole quarter is that all of these traditional walls and barriers that have been up completely busted through. Everyone’s just able to talk openly and honestly about where things are, what’s worth doing right now. What was a good idea six months ago, but isn’t a good idea anymore? …That’s where the conversation has moved to and then a lot of the hurt feelings or stepping on toes type conversations have gone away. There’s just get it done and get it done as fast as we can. It’s great.” 

“What I see coming is a digital disruption or eCommerce digital disruption where the groups and countries or cultures that have more comfort with change or risk are going to be more successful at transitioning to a lot of these ways of working and buying.” 

“That idea of just hyper consumer value and allowing the person to self-service to me is exactly where we’d want to be. Any opportunity to let the person interact with the brand on their own terms to me is the right approach.”

Bio:

Dylan Valade is the Head of Global E-Commerce Technology at PUMA. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science & Systems Analysis. Dylan also minored in Fine Art, specializing in drawing and painting. Dylan began developing Web sites professionally in 2000 for the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati. He then moved from Brighton, Michigan to Glenwood Springs, CO to work as a Web Designer. In 2004, Dylan left the Western Slope to start Sungem in Breckenridge, CO. After four years in Breck, Dylan relocated to northern Michigan. He and his family moved to Germany when he accepted a position with Puma. With Puma, Dylan has helped lead a number of projects including the rollout of global Direct-to-Consumer (D2C B2C) systems to Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Russia, and the integration of Salesforce Commerce Cloud.


Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we’re ready for what’s next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce

 


Transcript:

Stephanie:

Dylan, welcome to the show.

Dylan:

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Stephanie:

Yeah, we were just saying you’re in Germany right now. How long have you been there and what brought you out there?

Dylan:

Moved to Germany a little over three years ago and Puma brought me out here. Puma had been a client of my digital company in the US and asked if I would switch teams and go internal, so that’s what I did.

Stephanie:

Very cool. So was it your own company that you were running in the US?

Dylan:

Yes. Yeah.

Stephanie:

Can you tell us a little bit about that and how you started that?

Dylan:

That started out of just an interest in computers and the web and I began picking up clients in Colorado when I was there mostly for skiing, and snowboarding, but I did a little computing on the side and just sort of picking up clients and business. And I ended up doing that for 15 years. So it was a long period of my life and was really good opportunity because I got to work on all the most interesting projects that we could come up with.

Dylan:

And Puma came along in that time and doing to do some work for them for their global eCommerce team, which was based in Boston at the time. And then they did a reorg and shuffled the group back to Europe where corporate headquarters are. And in that time I moved to help rearchitect the way we do the technology.

Stephanie:

Okay, cool. And have you been there for a couple of years or how long has it been now?

Dylan:

Yeah, since 2016.

Stephanie:

Okay. And what’s that change been like moving to year out from … you said Michigan, right?

Dylan:

From Michigan. It’s drastic.

Stephanie:

Yeah. What’s the biggest change?

Dylan:

They are many. But first when you make the decision to move, it’s a big choice. And so I actually had kind of dismissed the opportunity, but it was my wife who said, well if I woke up 20 years from now and we didn’t do anything differently, I would regret it.

Stephanie:

Yeah, that’s great.

Dylan:

Let’s try it. So-

Stephanie:

And did you have kids at the time?

Dylan:

We had two kids and then we’ve had a third since we got here.

Stephanie:

Oh, great. Congrats.

Dylan:

And then after that … Yeah. The change is pretty consistent as you talk to other ex-pats that the first six months are awful.

Stephanie:

Like I want to go home.

Dylan:

It’s just, yeah, you’ve appended your whole life and then you’ve got all of the different government documents that need to be signed and notarized and you’ve got all these different appointments and you don’t know how to get your haircut. You don’t know where to go grocery shopping, you don’t know how to pay your taxes. Like just all of the little things that you just know don’t work anymore. And then you also don’t have family and friends to talk to in your time zone, which is tough.

Stephanie:

Yeah, that’s hard. So you went out there for Puma. What is your role look like now? Has it changed since you’ve gotten out there?

Dylan:

It has. So I arrived as a one person team, focused specifically on the eCommerce technology and then as a specialist for that. And the role was … they said come in, figure out what we can improve and then begin the change, start improving what you can. And in that time a lot of the changes have been pretty successful. And so now we are at a point that would just keep expanding the scope and just adding more and more tools to what we do and more people to the process. So it’s just grown in scale.

 

Stephanie:

Dylan, what’s your philosophy or idea around change management?

Dylan:

That’s a good question. Actually, I’ve got a couple of notes here as I look back over it. So my philosophy with change management is that you’re really focused on mentality and time. So the mindset that the person who’s bringing the change has his … Is at a completely different point in time than the person who needs to adopt a change.

Dylan:

And so I got this input from Puma’s change management program where we were taught that if you’re the change agent, you’re traveling from the future and you need to come back in time and, help everyone else realize that that something important is. And then based on that, you’ve got to be persuasive enough to say within the timeframe you’ve got to make a change or else.

Dylan:

And then that’s where you get into how much time. And so if you look at what’s happening in the public right now, we have a current crisis, which is, it was months, weeks, and days. The previous big effort is climate crisis, which it doesn’t have people perishing every day. So it takes a lot of effort to keep the focus on it and pollution is part of that, but that’s not something that’s sensational.

Dylan:

So you have to be able to show visually that there’s progress and what the steps are. So I like to give people the first step, and then show that progress over time, make it very visual and then that’s how we report whether it’s working or not. Time is really important. And another good advice that I got from a business consultant about 10 years ago was that about 50% of small businesses fail before we get to the five or 10 years.

Dylan:

And in that time, you only have 260 weeks to make whatever you are going to make happen to be successful. So you can’t just say, I’m going to start this new initiative or shut this business and it’s going to be successful. You have a bunch of changes in between. And then when you start breaking that down, then you’re in weeks and if you’re already 18 months in, you only got 185 weeks left to close. Okay. It’s really … this is coming fast.

Dylan:

But starting to think like that, makes it always urgent, which is kind of important if you really want to change anything. So getting that mindset and mentality of time in sync with the two parties is important.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I like the idea of having it visual as well. I think I saw this, I don’t know where it was trending maybe probably on Instagram or something. Where it showed how many days left you have with your parents or like with your kids or something up until they’re 18 and it put it in maybe like, I don’t know, hamburger emoji or something like that.

Stephanie:

And then here’s how many, days you have left until they go to high school or something. That was this whole thing and when it put it visually it’s like, “Oh man, I don’t have that much time and I’ve got to hurry.” So, I like that idea a lot.

Dylan:

And the visual part is why the Kanban approach has been so popular. And then when you have a Kanban board, you actually see the work, whether it’s posted or it’s digital. To be able to really see it, you can focus on it and you can focus on it over time. That’s the hard part, is how do you keep focused for enough time to make the change happen?

Dylan:

And the other thing that you would need is a coalition of the willing, you’ve got to have a partner in crime. You can’t do it alone. And so that change has to be something that gives you joy personally, even if it’s some sort of sick joy that you actually like web servers and making them faster and that type of stuff. But you have to care about it enough that everyday you’re willing to get up and do it and you don’t need to be talked into doing it.

Dylan:

And that when you come into contact with anyone who might be able to help you, you can quickly explain it in terms they understand so they can get behind you, and that’s a big part of what’s required and what I do.

 

Stephanie:

Got it. And what are some of the biggest changes that you made while you’re in your role right now at Puma?

Dylan:

The biggest focus for me was getting to a modern software development approach. The way most companies in general but eCommerce and retailers seem to emerge is that there will be someone who has an interest in technology and they get control of the website and then control of the sales online. And then that either lives in kind of a marketing team or IT or some sort of a external party completely some vendor.

Dylan:

And what Puma had done was basically built up a whole bunch of those all around the world. And even if you have a common and starting technology stack, you end up changing that pretty drastically over the years as you move from country to country.

Dylan:

So that was where we began. Just with Commerce Cloud being the first major item and so focused on how to make Commerce Cloud fast, how to get the people working around it working together, especially across the national borders. And then you have the one piece which is just the actual technology, like make commerce cloud fast. And then there’s, how do you bring all of the people involved together who are external, internal, so they’re working on the same projects and that they have the same understanding. It was clarity around what’s being built, the timing’s understood and that the budget is properly tracked and when you see something’s not working, stop doing it instead of just continuing on.

Stephanie:

Got it. That sounds like a huge challenge, especially if you’re doing things globally. What kind of problems did you encounter when you were trying to bring all those teams together and people together, especially if you’re trying to align marketing and sales and IT to all come together and work on the same project together? How did you decide what systems and tools to implement and how did you decide what was the priority?

Dylan:

The focus was, where’s the money and the money’s coming from … or the future money is coming from digital. And so what’s going to be needed in the future isn’t what we need for right now. And so the approach that I took was, okay, what’s working right now, I don’t want to break, but the things that I know have symptoms of bigger process problems will be the ones that I’d want to focus on first.

Dylan:

And the time it was taking to get a new enhancement or a bug fix or something live on puma.com was longer than I thought was possible. So I said okay, this is where we should start, and in order to do that, what would make sense is also bringing the websites to a more modern technology set of technologies.

Dylan:

And at the time, Salesforce was working on this new architecture for their commerce system, so we offered to take the beta pilot route with them and build it together. And that basically extended what we were doing to a much wider scope than I had originally anticipated. So we basically rebuilt puma.com using Commerce Cloud, their new reference architecture. And that meant a full redesign of the site and new integrations though the tools, analytics, everything. It was a lot.

Stephanie:

Wow. Very cool.

Dylan:

In hindsight … I would say in hindsight, the analytics piece was the one that I underestimated. People are very reliant on the data and the reports that they have. And when you start screwing around with the tools that they’re using and the interfaces that they’re using to collect that information, the reports will change. And even if the reports were wrong before they trusted them. And so when we made these changes, everybody’s report is no longer accurate. And what we learned again later was that the reports weren’t right the first time.

Dylan:

So there was a whole lot of discussion around who’s got the true source of data, who’s responsible for maintaining that. So then now as the new features introduced in one country and it might impact another, whose job is it to make everyone else aware? So a lot of the questions became, I’m focused around the communication when you start to really centralize services. And that was a big step for us.

Stephanie:

That hits home for me. Back in the day I worked at Google and there was a lot of issues around data and a BI team would come in and give people all these fancy dashboards and things like that. And people would be quoting numbers to find out that maybe those numbers weren’t right. And people had weird filters on, or the source data wasn’t even correct. And it turned into a whole thing where every time a new analytics project was being launched, they started figuring out how many people they need to staff to even keep that running, and if it was worth it and … Yeah, that’s a challenge. So was there any-

Dylan:

I wish you-

Stephanie:

Go ahead, I’m sorry.

Dylan:

I was saying I wish that you would have been there then on day one to help me, know that that was coming.

Stephanie:

I don’t know if I’d signed myself up for that project. I saw too many engineers struggling and too many marketing people upset. No, it wasn’t the happiest environment. Using metrics and data is a tricky thing, one thing I can think of is like when people would go off of impressions and everyone starts quoting impressions as being the best thing to find out. Maybe you actually don’t want to use that number. Or another funny thing I heard was, I think there’s this one company that goes around and they’re saying that they serve up like a million custom landing pages every single day. So they’re like the best company when it comes to personalization to find out that really they’re just changing the name on the landing page and they’re calling that personalization. Is there any metrics that you’ve seen maybe not Puma, but previous companies use or other competitor companies using, where do you think those metrics might be leading them down the wrong path? or they’re quoting it in reports and they’re using it as their north star and they shouldn’t be.

Dylan:

Impressions is a perfect one. Anything that is, I guess what I would put in the vanity metric category, all the metrics that we focused on in the 90s and early 2000s because that’s just what was available, since it was just a step up from server logs, and you ended up with just raw counts of things that have almost no value and that you didn’t validate but it’s real traffic at all.

Dylan:

So one of the biggest changes we made that ended up being really helpful was basically identifying that in your report at a country level if you’re unable to deliver product outside of that country or that economic region, don’t really consider that traffic in your actual conversion reporting because it’s impossible for the person to convert if you don’t even ship to where they live.

Dylan:

So when you start looking at it in a more like what’s possible, where reality comes into this, I find that you get something you can make use out of. So now if we have decisions being made about the success of the campaign, but 20% of the traffic was people just coming in from other countries, it isn’t realistic to say that this campaign was a failure or success?

Stephanie:

Got it. Yeah, that’s a really key thing to know is what’s going to be in the denominator of that equation. We talked about a metric maybe that you shouldn’t use. What is your definition of success for eCommerce? Is it conversion or speed or design, scalability? And you can’t say everything. You have to pick one or two if possible.

Dylan:

Yeah. It’s not everything. For me, it’s very simple. It’s growth and net sales year to year and doing that without sacrificing profitability. You have to maintain your margin over time. You can’t just continue to discount and run promotions. And if you’re not growing, you’re dying, so that’s it. And then you use all of those other levers to control those two numbers.

Stephanie:

Got it. So if you dive into the profitability piece or the growing piece, what kind of initiatives are you working on right now when it comes to growing over the next couple of years or even decades to focus on them?

Dylan:

Good question. The disadvantage of the current pandemic is that we’re hyper-focused on just those topics. The way we’ve done it is broken up our teams into temporary program teams, one focus on performance marketing, another focused on data quality and product data availability. And then the third focused on core technology projects. So those three pillars make up all of the work that our department is focused on delivering for headquarters and for all the regions.

Dylan:

And so within that we’re really trying to make the absolute most out of every performance marketing dollar and euro spent. And in that, a lot of it is education for people who have been doing traditional brand marketing.

Dylan:

That’s just getting Puma out in front of the whole world to what can we do to support Puma’s direct to consumer path right now, especially when the retailers aren’t open in all markets. So there’s a lot of learning that’s just new for the organization, which is a 70-year-old wholesale distributor model, product design and distribution, not direct to consumer. So it’s a lot about education.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I was just browsing through Pumas website. What part of those campaigns be the live workouts that film was doing and like the engagement you guys are starting to do with consumers more real time. And did that just come up due to the COVID-19 and the environment that we’re in right now? Or have you all been doing that for a while?

Dylan:

That’s a perfect example, I’m glad you asked about that one. So the working out at home is certainly a focus right now that hadn’t been in the past except that we had built this awesome app called Pumatrac that was incubated in the EMEA market in Europe and has a hundred plus video workouts in it from our celebrity athletes and tracks your runs. This has just been available for free for years from Puma.

Dylan:

And so now we have all these tools and with all of a sudden we have these people working out at home and we see traffic going through the roof on the staff, we immediately pivoted and turned out a web-based version so people could use it on their computer and not need an app to download and then they’d be able to do it from anywhere and put it on any device.

Dylan:

So that was quick pivot to get brand marketing, local performance marketing and the technology teams all working together.

Stephanie:

Yeah, that’s great. I need to hop on some of those workouts. It always seems like people in EMEA are the ones that spearhead. The best workouts and then we have the best looking clothes that’s who I follow on Instagram. Everyone who’s in Europe.

Stephanie:

So how did you get that app and the web page? Was it just organic people just started coming to it or how did you get it found? Because you can make great things and then if no one finds it or no one knows it’s there.

Dylan:

That’s the trick. And so the EMEA market and their regional marketing effort kept investing in campaigns to promote the app and they would do it at a country level. So roll it out in India you get a lot of excitement in a country and kind of do it that way. So you’d find a local celebrity athlete ambassador who would want to make videos and do workouts and has a following. And work with each one, and then which just grew organically that way and was also then given a big push from our innovations team at headquarters. And then the next place it when it was to globally commerce and turned it into, this is something that’s working and great, so now let’s improve the technology behind it and the process for maintaining it.

Dylan:

So now we’ve got it in the next evolution of all of these tools that had companies once they’ve been successful now you have to take care of it. And that seems to be the big difference between where there’s a handover from kind of like a marketing or agency startup concept to know who’s going to foster this and support it. So, it’s our team.

 

Stephanie:

Got it. And people coming from all over, did you start testing things, doing AB tests, serving them, and directing different offers to different types of people based on this new traffic in the app? Did you change anything or just kind of keep it how it was and just keep adding more content?

Dylan:

The app we’ve been just improving, most of the traffic is, is coming directly to the eCommerce sites in each country. And so the big pivots there are making landing pages and categories that speak to being at home and spending a whole day in your pajamas or leisure wear while you’re on your Zoom calls.

Stephanie:

That’s me.

Dylan:

Exactly. So that was really where the change happened. It was reorganized the entire merchandising calendar to get the price people need right now in front of them.

Stephanie:

Got it. And how quickly can you make those changes? Because one thing I can kind of see coming out of this environment we’re in right now is that a lot of things have been sped up, whether it’s … you see things that the government agencies being sped up or I’m wondering about internal processes. I can just think about, like you mentioned before, Google bug fixes and website changes sometimes could take like quarters. Everyone had a debate, it had to go through so many different levels. Do you think you guys are seeing different internal practices changing now with the current environment we’re in?

Dylan:

Absolutely. That’s one of the most exciting things for me about this whole quarter is that all of these traditional walls and barriers that have been up completely busted through everything is everyone’s just able to talk openly and honestly about where things are, what’s worth doing right now. What was a good idea six months ago, but isn’t a good idea anymore. It’s just not appropriate anymore and let’s just stop doing those and let’s put the focus on the ones that either weren’t even on the list yet or were on the list, but we just haven’t had time to finish them or focus.

Dylan:

That’s where the conversation has moved to and then a lot of the hurt feelings or stepping on toes type conversations have gone away. There’s just get it done and get it done as fast as we can. It’s great.

Stephanie:

Yeah, no, I agree. It definitely feels like a time where you can kind of start from scratch and just say, “Hey, what are your priorities right now?” And everything else just can go to the second half of the year. It could be a great thing for a lot of companies. So what things-

Dylan:

One thing that-

Stephanie:

Go ahead.

Dylan:

So something that had changed in the last couple of years was that we centralized the communication and made the work in progress visual. That was really two of our primary focus areas. And by doing that, we had already built up, all of the places where we needed people to collaborate and we already had it internal and external. So we already had lists of the ideas, all the roadmaps from every country, all their top priorities. And when this all happened the last two months, we just said, okay, let’s take the priorities that you’ve already documented and let’s put a number to each one. Let’s figure out how much you would make on this. How much would it cost, how much time, and just reshuffled the priorities and then do a quick overlap of who’s doing what, so we don’t duplicate effort.

Dylan:

And these were things we just couldn’t do a few years ago because there was no place to have the conversation.

Stephanie:

Yup. No urgency.

Dylan:

There was no urgency and nobody even knew each other’s name.

Stephanie:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. And what if you were thinking about everyone coming together, did you deprioritize a lot of similar things and what things did you prioritize going forward and what things did you kind of shelf right now?

Dylan:

So just from our own list, we went from about a little over 100 parallel projects to 40. And so in that, say 67% we just stopped even looking at, and then the focus became what is going to drive business in the next four to eight weeks. So that’s where … time to change, it’s about mindset and timeframe. And so when you’re on a global team, you usually expect to look out quarters and advance, years in advance, while the market teams are trying to move product that’s in a warehouse today, out of that warehouse as fast as possible. And do it in a way that’s still exciting and valuable to the consumers.

Dylan:

So when you start moving all the global people towards that daily mindset, you get a whole lot of new ideas and different perspectives on what the other people have been looking at all the time. And then you also started to say, geez, the ideas I had, were flawed because this is how they actually work. And so we’ve also learned where we’ve made mistakes or were planning to make mistakes. So that’s been kind of a nice benefit on the side of all this.

Stephanie:

Yeah. And are you using data to make those decisions for you when you’re coming up with how to actually meet people where they are right now over the next four to eight weeks? How are you then coming up with what that shopping behavior looks like? What are you looking at to determine that? Or is it a gut feeling? Where you’re like, “I think people are probably going to do this. Let’s try that.”

Dylan:

There’s a bit of a gut feeling, which is people are at home, they probably need things that they would want to wear at home. And that’s been correct. The other ones that are maybe a more subtle would be things like realizing that a bunch of products that we thought were available online because there’s thousands and thousands of different sizes and articles online weren’t. And it’s taking the time to figure out what system along the chain did they get stuck at. And then going back and figuring out why were they stuck.

Dylan:

And so this would be then getting them into different marketplaces, not just under puma.com and the people that are there, we know they’re there, we just didn’t know that they couldn’t get all of our products. So there’s a bunch of work like that that’s really low level and highly detailed. And we finally are by freeing up those other 70 projects that needed daily status reports or constant updates or whatever the people are free to look at the things they are looking at in a lot more depth. And so we’re just getting more quality out of the things we’re doing.

Stephanie:

Got it. Yeah. That’s great. When it comes to determining those projects globally, is everyone kind of working on the same thing right now or is it region specific? Because I could see some areas experiencing different issues then … maybe the US is experiencing one thing where Asia is experiencing a whole different buying behavior. How do you address those different markets, especially when something has to move so quickly like the environment we’re in right now?

Dylan:

So this is where the centralized communication is so important that we didn’t have before. So each of the regions there’s separate subsidiaries for Puma. There are different trading companies and they have their own inventories, their own stores. And so it’s like in the United States, those stores are closed right now. In China, they’re almost all open right now, including Wuhan. So they have very different problems right now. And these are also focused on different things.

Dylan:

So these are the topics that they would focus on locally. And then we would say, okay, what is it that’s on your top list? And my team actually flew into Boston to meet with our team there at our Westford office and Massachusetts and we did it couple day workshop just to go through this process. How will we figure out what we’re going to work on and let’s do it together. Fortunately we did that right before COVID, so we could still fly.

Stephanie:

That’s good.

Dylan:

But that’s how we do it. So we do actually in-person visits into the market and then that keeps a relationship kind of going and you get things face to face, you don’t get over the phone.

Dylan:

And then coming back to headquarters, we’ve got our roadmap that we share with everyone. Everything’s wide open, kind of operate as an open source software development community inside the company and with our vendors. So outside of financial information, everybody can see everything and that makes it really easy to see what each other’s doing and avoid the duplication of effort.

Stephanie:

All right. To move on to a little bit higher level questions, what disruption do you see coming to commerce over the next couple of years? And I can even talk about maybe a consumer shopping behavior might continue how it is now, if that’s going to disrupt the future or anything else you see coming down the road. You just need to take out your crystal ball. That’s all.

Dylan:

Yeah. I’m thinking about my crystal ball. There is a big gap in what is considered foundational education for the type of work that we’re doing today and the type of work that was needed when the current education systems were designed. In Germany-

Stephanie:

Please explain that a bit more.

Dylan:

Yeah. So in January for example, there is a large shortage of people that have IT knowledge and experience. So they are more willing to accept people like me in as resident because they want people with these skills in their workforce. And what I see coming is a digital disruption or eCommerce digital disruption where the groups and countries or cultures that have more comfort with change or risk are going to be more successful at transitioning to a lot of these ways of working and buying.

Dylan:

So in Asia, the mobile device is everything. And so everywhere you walk, people are on their phone consuming everything. And you’ll see two or three phones out in someone’s lap and it’s just amazing how connected they are. And then I’ll going to somewhere in the US and everyone’s really comfortable with computers and they’re also pretty comfortable with what’s changing to using the devices their privacy’s in between.

Dylan:

And then come to Germany and people like to pay by invoice. So you’re buying a pair of shoes, for €50 or €100 and you’re not going to pay for 30 days. It’s not like they swipe your credit card, they’re really going to check your credit history and send you a bill in the mail and you’re going to transfer money later to them hopefully, or send the shoes back. So it’s just a totally different way of working.

Dylan:

And when you’ve got then people who want to work with paper and pencil trying to build eCommerce digital into their manufacturing, their supply chain and their sales process like they just are going to struggle and continue to struggle to make that adoption. And so what I see being the big disruption or the communities that train their younger people to use the technology for good and for commerce and for manufacturing and logistics versus those who are just gaming with it or are just going to ignore it because they don’t like it or understand it. I think that’s what we’re seeing.

Dylan:

And then either way the artificial intelligence and those things are coming. So if education starts to be built around that, whether it’s primary or secondary, I think that’s where you’re going to see the most disruption. And all of a sudden you’re going to see just different ways of working, people eliminating plastics or whatever it would be problems from their supply chain because it’s not necessary anymore, and that they’ll find solutions. And then it’s going to be what companies operate like Google, where it’s a software company, Microsoft, these companies are led by software developers founded by software developers. They completely embraced that way of working in and living and seeing things. And that seems to be the biggest difference for me.

Dylan:

So then the brands that have people in charge of their digital experience who also really have a strong foundation databases, networking systems thinking they’re going to be the ones that just outperform.

Dylan:

So then regardless of what the disruption is, they’ll be able to adopt it or assess that it’s valuable or not. And that’s a big part of what I’m asked to do at Puma is, is this a good idea?

Stephanie:

Yeah, that’s great. Education is definitely key. I kind of am wondering if it’s … I don’t know if it’s the right term, is the leapfrog effect where certain regions or countries or industries that never had access to something, they kind of just skip over it. So I think Asia and maybe even India might be a good model of this where I think they never really had point of sale systems. And so they just skipped over that completely because they never had access to it and they just went right to mobile.

Stephanie:

And that was something when we were at Google, we always watched is that a lot of them … like we were so focused on desktop and mobile, for the Americas, but when looking at India with the next billion users and China, it’s like, well they don’t really care about that, they really all just want right to mobile and we need to focus just on that.

Stephanie:

Do you think that’s like something to consider as well when looking at different markets and education and all that? Is that there might just be a big portion if people just skip right over there like, “Oh, we don’t need that. We already saw that it’s happening in other countries and we never had access to that. So we’ll just go on to the next thing.” That might be how they actually get ahead?

Dylan:

That’s perfect. Perfect explanation of how things are working and that’s it.

Stephanie:

Are there certain markets that you look to learn from and then do you try and push that behavior on maybe the Germanys of the world, which because my family’s from Germany, I’m allowed to say they’re behind. But are you trying to push that on that consumer buying behavior and be like, “Hey, this is what’s good for you? [inaudible] easier come on?”

Dylan:

I guess not so much a push it on to the other markets, but it’s to identify what worked somewhere where you would see the trend going that direction culturally for the other groups. And so then what’s popular with the Chinese market or in Japan and how they might be purchasing … One example would be the PO box equivalent in Japan. It would be that the people would want to have their product delivered to the train station that they’re gonna be at seven 30 in the morning instead of to their apartment, which there almost never at. So then do you need this whole logistics system for figuring out where people are going to want to be and make sure you deliver at that time, instead of saying, what’s a five-day window to have it at your doorstep? They’d rather see it, like, “I want it tomorrow and I can be here tomorrow, can you get it to me?”

Dylan:

And then now you moved to the US years later. And then you have these career lockers that are being set up in different places where they’re kind of doing the same thing, but you still have the PO box, but you have this reluctance of different carriers to deliver to a PO box. And even some brands won’t do it.

Dylan:

And so it’s just those are the things I’m looking at. Like okay, if you skip this idea that you have to deliver to someone’s home and do it while they’re there, what have you just unlocked? And that’s the opportunity that I look for. This is what we could … we’re not going to push it on you but this is what’s possible. Then you have the alternate payment methods as well like [inaudible] AfterPay. Like these are things that don’t come out of the US but the US market’s adopting.

Dylan:

And then what we’re expected to do is make a flexible templated technology stack where you can substitute those different third parties and vendors and solutions in without compromising the whole of Puma security and technology approach, the enterprise architecture.

Stephanie:

Got it. That makes sense. Are there certain companies that you look towards who are either leading the change or you kind of keep close tabs on because they’re always ahead. Just like looking at the different markets and stuff to see what they’re doing? Are there people that you pay attention to in the industry or companies?

Dylan:

One company that really impressed me was Vail Resorts. They managed to take the idea of just moving somewhere from the bottom of a Hill to the top of a Hill with sticks on their feet to using the ticket that was [inaudible 00:41:33]is hanging up their jacket to turn it into RFID card that allowed you access to such a national park forest land. And to buy food and to get lodging deals and to do these transactions internationally all from … Just to play loyalty card.

Dylan:

And that idea of just hyper consumer value and allowing the person to self service to me is exactly where we’d want to be. Any opportunity to let the person interact with the brand on their own terms to me is the right approach. I got to go on a digital retail tour of Chicago and a ran the runway had an awesome experience. So their ability to let people subscribe to have a certain number of articles of clothing in their wardrobe and then be able to go in and just scan and return or buy them or whatever, all by themselves in these boutique shops is amazing. And then backing that up, they’ve got the largest dry cleaning service in the United States.

Stephanie:

Wow, I didn’t know that.

Stephanie:

I guess that makes sense.

Dylan:

Those are the types of things that then I just think, wow, like you said, you just skipping all of these steps that we thought we had to do. You don’t have to have a sales associate talk to everybody. When they’re needed, it’s great. But if they’re not needed and people still want the in store experience, we can give them that. Those are things that I would expect or the kind of disruptions that will be in the near term. And it’s not for everybody. You wouldn’t do that necessarily at Walmart, but you might for some things.

Dylan:

And that I think becomes more of the opportunity. Like how do you let your brands data flow into other physical stores or their digital environments as well. And if they have a marketplace, how do you make sure your data is available to them in the format they would need it and when they need it to take action. Like you said, three quarters later after we’ve had time to evaluate it and do a vendor tendering and figure out if it’s feasible.

Stephanie:

Yep. How do you go about sharing that data with retail partners but also keeping it safe, so you’re doing everything by the books? That’s one thing I’m even thinking about now is that the rules on data and data privacy are probably only going to get stricter over the next couple of years. And I can see a lot of people right now who are collecting data. They might not be able to actually use it in the next couple of years because maybe they weren’t collecting it the right way, telling the users how they are going to use it, following all the rules. How do you, it’s all about striking that balance?

Dylan:

That’s the question, isn’t it?

Stephanie:

Yeah. Let me know. I’m trying to learn.

Dylan:

There is a first approach to the data governance is often segregating the data sources, so that you make it highly unlikely inappropriate data shared somewhere. And some of that might be antitrust data that the direct to consumer people can’t see what the B to B people or doing or working on or their order volume, whatever it would be.

Dylan:

And then in trying to get Puma content or data to the retailers. We have a number of tools for that and a lot of effort just spending that even from my team that were direct consumer. But we’re really trying to support the B2B business so they can be successful too because we need the same information.

Dylan:

So Puma does take the approach of anything that we have or willing to give to our retailers. So that we’re not going to hoard product data to try to use for our own benefit more. And so that for me it helps because then we don’t have to worry about trying to do something different. For search engine optimization, we end up competing with them directly with that exact same data.

Stephanie:

That’s not good.

Dylan:

But that’s just the way it works, so that’s okay. But then the consumer data, you said that you’re just collecting these massive amounts of it, and what’s going to happen with it or what do you do with it? You’re not going to take action right now. And I’m happy to see that it’s being deleted. If it’s not being used, and it’s just sitting there, it’s going to be removed.

Dylan:

There is a kind of an interesting proposal going on in the EU to create a data market. I guess like this current market is 27 countries that they would collaborate and share data with the citizens and with each other and then companies so that you’ve got government, private citizen data that everyone’s able to benefit from. And that is really exciting to me that you have the handful of different pillars, but things like environmental data sets, manufacturing data sets, things that will help, where everyone could benefit, if this was out in the open.

Dylan:

And then there I believe there’s going to be a a requirement to reduce the fear of companies or sharing what they have. Because in the past years it’s been how do you just make sure it’s kept us tightly under wraps as possible or not collected at all to an idea of actually there’s a value in doing this, and if we do it together and safely we can unlock a lot of value and actually make life better for a lot of people. And so I think that the same thing is happening with these brands that Google and others have a ton of information and they’ll continue to hoard that. But the brands are able to have information I think is just more useful for a person to have a good experience and a better life.

Dylan:

And so where you find the brands that you like and they’re able to give you something back, you’re happy to share more. Like with the Pumatrac, I work out with this app, I’m healthier because of the app. I don’t mind Puma knowing that about me. And I actually would appreciate if they would be proactive about helping me even get further or convincing me to somehow convince my family and my friends to do more to be healthier.

Dylan:

So those are the opportunities that you get when you start sharing this data.

Stephanie:

Yeah, I can also see it being interesting when brands start partnering with that data, especially if it’s combining location based data with the fact that you’re using the app and it may be Puma partners with someone else to where someone’s walking around a mall when they can go back to malls again, and they’re getting different offers based on where they’re at. But you’re doing it in partnership with other brands because you have access to the same type of data about that person. I could see that being really helpful.

Dylan:

I agree with you, which is why I think we need more people with the technology understanding to know how to do that safely and when that’s a good decision and then when they’re ready to do it that it doesn’t take years and they can get it done in weeks or months.

Stephanie:

Got it. So one last question before we go to a lightning round, which I’ll tell you about in a bit. Dun dun dun! My final question is, I was on your guys’ website and I saw this awesome idea where people were uploading images to your guys’ website where they were in your guys’ apparel and shoes and things like that. So you’re started … I don’t know if you’re just starting this, but UGC or user generated content was a huge thing. That’s some of the companies I’ve been at a very hard thing to crack though. So did you all just implement this with the whole, the environment we’re in and the Stronger Together campaign and all that, is that when you just started having people upload pictures in the apparel or how did you guys think about that campaign?

Dylan:

UGC has been a popular topic for a while. We started this maybe two years ago in earnest. And it’s great because it lets people, sure how they use the brand of the products and what their personality is like. So it’s just nice to see. And the integration was … technically it’s not very difficult. The problems are around moderation-

Stephanie:

I was just going to ask that.

Dylan:

… of the images.

Stephanie:

And quality.

Dylan:

The big hurdle is so nice when you’ve got a brand as big as Puma because there’s plenty of people posting about it already. And so then it’s like no one currently had the role of UGC moderator who was going to spend time doing it. So, there’s a group within our department that just takes turns moderating the images that are coming through. And then there’s some … but then need to assign which products are actually in each one if there is a product. And so it becomes a lot of process around keeping that in compliance and doing it well. So that actually is where all the effort is. That tech part’s easy.

Stephanie:

Got it. Yeah, that’s there’s this app LiketoKNOW.it app where you can screenshot apparel and then you can instantly buy from it. And that’s right when I saw that on the Puma website I’m like, “Ooh, that makes it easy because that girl looks like my body shape and I really liked that tee shirt and now I can buy it and I know what size she’s in.” It just seems like a much easier conversion when it’s organic like that.

Dylan:

That’s the key. I give a lot … like we have all of these requirements for photography models, stand a certain way and we take the pictures in these certain angles and the marketplaces have their own rules. But the reality for you and me, we’re not sample size. We don’t fit what a certain model ever was. So we were like, “Well this person looks like me. Okay, I’ll buy it.”

Stephanie:

“I look good like that, oh wait, now.” Yeah. That’s great. All right. Are you ready for the lightning round? Which is-

Dylan:

I think so.

Stephanie:

… I ask you a question and you have to answer it in under a minute. That’s whatever comes top of mind is your first answer to that question.

Dylan:

Okay.

Stephanie:

All right. So I’ll start with the hard one first and then I’ll be fun ones after that. It’s your job to stay ahead of expectations and whatever comes next in eCommerce. What’s up next for eCommerce pros?

Dylan:

I would say getting the data moving through your systems as quickly as possible and using as much automation as possible. So everywhere that there is a repeated task, there’s likely an opportunity. If it’s in eCommerce specifically, it was probably a good opportunity to automate it. And then it might be just a simple automation or maybe it’s machine learning that becomes smart and chatbots, things like that. But that there will be more and more opportunities for affordable automation and artificial intelligence that will just make all of these tasks that we’ve had hundreds of thousands of people working on basically eliminated. And then those people can start to do the work of making it a really great experience to be part of the brand. It’s going from currently being more about transactional based experience where you’re like, okay, I need to find product, buy product, wait for product. That that whole chain can be something enjoyable and surprising. And I think that’s what the future is going to hold and what I hope to see more people doing.

Stephanie:

Got it. All right. What’s up next on your podcast list or audible other than this episode when it comes out of course?

Dylan:

The often check on Radiolab, but there is a surfing podcasts that I’m now listening to, so, and I’ll find out what happened with Quicksilver.

Stephanie:

Oh, fun. All right. What’s up next for dinner? Is your wife making anything tasty?

Dylan:

She always makes something tasty. She’s vegetarian and an incredible cook. So tonight I believe was a sensor to tacos, but she’s an excellent cook.

Stephanie:

Yum. What’s up next on your Netflix queue or Hulu if you prefer?

Dylan:

I just finished Tiger, so right now-

Stephanie:

Me too.

Dylan:

… I’m taking a break.

Stephanie:

Guilty pleasures. Oh it’s so good. I judged it so hard when people kept telling me to watch it. I don’t know if you were the same and then I watched, I’m like, “Oh, this is good.” It’s okay. You don’t have to be embarrassed.

Dylan:

So now I am taking a little bit of a[inaudible 00:55:45].

Stephanie:

Taking a brain break. I think that … yeah, I’m doing the same. And the last one. Once we can get out into the world again. What’s up next on your travel destinations?

Dylan:

We wanted to go to Portugal and do some surfing in Portugal.

Stephanie:

Very cool. Well, I hope you can do that soon. All right, well this has been a blast. So much fun talking to you Dylan and I hope we can have you back in the near future. Thanks for coming on the show.

Dylan:

All right, thank you.

 

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