How an e-commerce play saw DC Thomson blend customer focus with sales innovation
- 16 March, 2018 12:16
DC Thomson Consumer Products, parent company of Wild & Wolf and Australian-based Parragon Publishing, is on a mission to become more customer-focused as it adopts a customised e-commerce platform and pushes digital capability across its brands.
UK-based DC Thomson publishes newspapers, magazines and books and has ventured into the new media, digital technology, retail and television sectors. In January 2017, the company brought in-house wholesale gift provider, Wild & Wolf, which had previously been wholly managed by an independent third-party distributor for a couple of years. It has since launched the Wild & Wolf brand into the Australian market.
As part of the push to be more customer-led across the business, DC Thomson adopted a highly customised e-commerce platform from Melbourne-based Pronto Software. The platform streamlines the processes for systems management internally and empowers the sales team on the road. Importantly, it also offers a seamless and convenient experience for its retail customers, according to DC Thomson COO, Mark Camiller.
“Even if a customer’s requirements are very unique, the technology can adapt accordingly. We are always looking for ways to enhance our customers’ interactions with us, and ensure we’re meeting their needs,” he told CMO.
Blank 'digital' canvas
The need for an enhanced digital strategy at Wild & Wolf was at the top of the wishlist in terms of priorities, Camiller said, explaining it relied on Pronto Woven, Pronto Software’s digital strategy consultancy, to help integrate the customer-facing platform.
Wild & Wolf creates design-led gifts and lifestyle products across stationary, homewares, accessories, toys and games. Working in partnership with national retailers, department stores and independents, Wild & Wolf supplies its products to more than 6000 companies in over 60 countries. It has an office in Melbourne as well as in the US, Hong Kong and Europe.
“Wild & Wolf was essentially brand new to us and we had an immediate requirement for two things. Firstly, we required a digital sales platform for our on-the-road sales force, based around the country,” Camiller said. “They needed a digital platform to manage orders on-the-go, with immediate access to real-time business data and stock information via mobile. Secondly, we required a B2B platform allowing our independent retail partners to order stock quickly and easily online.”
Camiller said the team was starting with a blank sheet of paper in digital space for the business.
“In order to get both the digital sales platform and website up and running, we input all key product information into the ERP system which we could easily plug into,” he explained. “Then what we really required was high-quality images. We knew the critical importance of stunning and eye-catching imagery in selling products online.”
Already, the company has 1260 independent store partners connected to the B2B site. Based on data, the B2B site accounted for in excess of 50 per cent of total revenue last year.
In beefing up digital efforts at Wild & Wolf, DC Thomson looked to lessons learned from a previous tech deployment at Parragon Publishing. In this instance, it used Pronto Software to manage its ERP, business intelligence and analytics requirements.
“It was our plan to also bring Wild & Wolf operations across our cloud-based Pronto Xi system, and therefore we required a digital sales platform and e-commerce site for Wild & Wolf that would seamlessly interact and recognise Pronto Xi,” Camiller continued.
“We assessed other vendor options, but we selected the digital consultancy team at Pronto Woven to undertake our digital sales and e-commerce requirements due to the overall integration with our business management system that it allowed. Inventory, pricing and CRM changes would be fully integrated and recognised across all our channels including the website and digital sales platform, while all managed within a single system.”
The tech deployment is empowering the sales team by giving them access to real-time stock and order information, no matter their location.
“They can action a client’s order requests in the moment, while they’re chatting in person, kicking the whole supply chain process into gear with the click of a button,” Camiller said. “Such efficiencies are driving our sales momentum and growth, as well as bolstering customer satisfaction through rapid order approvals and deliveries.”
Additionally, a change or fix made in Pronto Xi gets reflected across its entire business information and data simultaneously. “It matches up with the data running the website where appropriate, and it is reflected across our internal mobile platforms. So through a single fix, you're in fact updating an item across a multitude of channels.”
Speaking about process, Camiller said Wild & Wolf back within the immediate fold in January 2017, and by mid-February had the mobile sales platform up and running.
“We only briefed in the Pronto Woven team mid-January 2017, so the app went live in a matter of weeks. The delivery of our website followed a couple of months after,” he said.
“We had to get 750 products onto the system, with beautiful, high-quality imagery and product descriptions. In terms of styles and order processing, from the day we turned it on, it was seamlessly integrated within Pronto Xi. For the digital sales app, our sales force just need to be connected to the Internet, and then away they go.”
Not long before bringing Wild & Wolf in-house, the company transitioned onto the cloud, which made the process of implementing the digital sales platform and B2B website pain-free.
“We moved a fairly complex warehousing operation within three weeks from one site to another site, and we had zero downtime in the multiple sites that we were operating from while we moved, all because our systems are in the cloud. And, it all worked out perfectly given our digital sales and B2B site for Wild & Wolf needed to be cloud-based to work efficiently, given the amount of data we’re dealing with,” Camiller added.