How Kathmandu is future-proofing omni-channel ecommerce

Outdoor equipment and clothing retailer invests in tools that enable it to bring online development in-house

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The pace of change in ecommerce can mean decisions made only a handful of years ago quickly restrict a retailer’s ability to adapt to new trends.

But at New Zealand-based outdoor clothing and equipment maker, Kathmandu, is hoping to have bought a degree of future proofing through adopting the open source Magento platform and bringing its development team back in-house.

The decision appears to be paying dividends, with Kathmandu’s Melbourne-based online business manager, Netta Kellett, reporting faster development times and easier customisation since the changes were made 12 months ago.

She says Kathmandu’s original ecommerce system had quickly proven to be too small for its global online ambitions.

“The key for us is to create an integrated omni-channel experience, so really trying to meet customer expectations in a fluid way between store and online,” Kellett says.

“For us it is all about looking at future trends and what can help propel us further. The fact that Magento is an open source platform means we can access a lot of people’s developments, and hence these developments is great benefit to us.”

Kellett says the transition is also integral to Kathmandu’s push to become a global brand. She says the system has brought in new capabilities such as international shipping, multiple currency handling and has allowed it to trial a click-and-collect service in the UK. Online sales now account for 5 per cent of Kathmandu’s global sales volumes.

“We also wanted to bring in more of the digital trends to get our sites up to speed for customer demand, particularly for us now being a global brand,” she says. “We’re working through some general implementations that are fairly standard, such as ratings and reviews, and we want to improve our mobile app.

“But it is also a lot about content. So it is not just about technology, it is really about ensuring we serve our customers what they want to get.”

To this end, Kathmandu has introduced an online content team to focus on that area, providing inspiration to buyers as well as additional information on how its products can be used.

But the greatest impact has been felt through taking management of the ecommerce environment back in-house from an external agency.

“Being able to work so closely with the developers has made a big difference in trying to get fixes in place and faster development turnaround,” Kellett says. “We are a lot more agile. We can react faster than having to go through an external agency.

“We as an organisation are definitely fast paced, so potentially the online model that we’re introducing is leading the way to how the rest of the business may work together as well.”

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