Greencast Q&A – Tom Gathern, Technical Project Manager at Furniture Village

Greencast Q&A – Tom Gathern, Technical Project Manager at Furniture Village

In our first guest episode of “Greencast” we invited our client Tom Gathern, Technical Project Manager at Furniture Village, to talk to us about the digital transformation journey that the furniture retailer has been undertaking for the past 24 months. 

This has included replacing their existing commerce platform with Demandware (now Salesforce Commerce Cloud) and integrating it into a new ERP system to provide a seamless experience to its customers.

Tom also discussed the impact of Brexit and increased competition from the likes of IKEA and Wayfair.

This post shares the highlights from that interview.

1. What challenges has the business faced in its digital transformation journey?

When you go through any sort of digital transformation and replacing of platforms and systems, one of the key things is to hold onto as many people as possible. Rolling out new processes and systems is scary for people that have been in the business for a long time.

At Furniture Village we have a lot of people who have been there for 10, 15, 20 years who will be used to doing things in a certain way. Fortunately, when we did the commerce platform we were able to keep everyone.

2. What approaches did you take to keep people within the business?

Trainings and communications is a key part to that. When we rolled out the new platform, we made sure that people were involved throughout. Discovery sessions we ran with our partners were in depth and brought in different people, with different knowledge from different parts of the business.

Furthermore, when we launched we ran training sessions so everyone was brought on the journey to understand how their roles might change and how to implement these new systems.

3. How has Brexit affected Furniture Village and the market as a whole?

It was announced just a few days after we launched the new platform, which when you’re trying to work out whether the decisions you’ve made are the best ones, and you’re looking at your statistics and comparing your data and you’ve got such a big outside influence having an impact on things (it really makes it difficult to anticipate and manage the subsequent impact). We’d launched a fantastic product and something we were proud of, but we had to make some quick, swift changes to account for that.

People’s mood and interest to buy big ticket items suddenly changed and we’re seeing that impact in the market of having to reduce prices to make things more attractive for people to spend. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of what we’re having to deal with at the moment.

In some instances, we have bucked the trend against some retail statistics, but it’s going to be challenging for the foreseeable future.

4. What have the likes of IKEA and Wayfair done to the market?

We have to be smart to compete against those. One of our ways of doing that is through internal testing. We run an iterative process of testing and that’s delivered some really strong results for us.

We can be smart about where we put our money. We have quite complex check-out processes and different payment methods, so how can we make those journeys smoother for our customers? It’s not all about the big, flashy toy – if we can make small changes that can deliver big differences then that’s good for us.

This post is based on a podcast interview with Tom Gathern from Furniture Village. To hear this episode, and more podcasts like it, head over to our Soundcloud page.

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