Jeans Centre and Garcia Jeans rely on the foryouandyourcustomers e-commerce expertise
Evidence of the collaboration’s success can already be seen in their first project – Jeans Centre’s revised, optimised online shop. Now Garcia Jeans’ online presence is to be redesigned too. ‘We’ve already started working on it, thankfully,’ says Mark. A few months ago, it could all have turned out very differently. ‘When it was most needed, foryouandyourcustomers really helped our company to get back on the right track e-commerce wise.’
The same scene plays week after week along Amsterdam’s Keizersgracht canal. Every Thursday morning around 9 o’clock, the doorbell rings at the foryouandyourcustomers office. Mark Roex steps through the door, briefcase in hand. ‘Some people have a work-from-home day; I have my foryouandyourcustomers day,’ he says with a laugh, and the group gathered around the long, white table in the entrance area joins in.
this particular Thursday, they’ve decided to break with the weekly routine. Mark Roex and the Jeans Centre team at foryouandyourcustomers – made up of Albena Mancheva (software developer), Mauro Rallo (CTO for hybris), Fabio Zuccato (formerly multichannel consultant), and Andrea Florio (formerly team lead) – have taken time out to have a coffee together. All five look back over the past few months, recalling the individual project phases in the relationship between customer and service provider, and discuss upcoming tasks and mutual goals. ‘First of all,’ begins Mark, ‘let me just say that I’m very happy with our collaboration. We’re a good, motivated, focused team – otherwise, I wouldn’t be here every Thursday.‘
Mark Roex explains the starting position of Jeans Centre in the e-commerce sector
During his conversation with foryouandyourcustomers, Mark refers to the company as the JOG Group. Jeans Centre is the multi-brand retail part of the company with almost 100 shops in the Netherlands, plus an online shop. From this base, the Group supplies around 20 outlet stores across Europe, mainly in Belgium, Austria, France, and Germany. The Group’s portfolio is rounded off by some 5,000 points of sale worldwide. This is the B2B part of the Group: the Garcia fashion brand.
The way these three companies are positioned and operate on the market has really ‘stood the test of time’, as Mark explains. ‘In comparison to the competition whose revenues fell steadily in the past, we continued to do very well. We are well positioned and in the e-commerce sector now, too.’
The fact that Mark works with us every week in our Amsterdam office is pretty exceptional, as he himself acknowledges. ‘It really helps me to stay focused on our mutual goals. It means we can coordinate projects, test new things, and quickly resolve emerging issues – all at close quarters and within a short space of time.’ Today, for instance, Mark is working with Andrea Florio on another release: customers will soon be able to use the gift cards sold in Jeans Centre shops as an online payment method. ‘This shows that our Jeans Centre project reached the fine-tuning stage some time ago,’ says Mark.
Jeans Centre trusts in foryouandyourcustomers’ multichannel know-how
Back in autumn 2013, the idea of fine-tuning the online shop was still in the far-distant future. Mark explains: ‘In my eyes, we were in the worst possible situation at that time – we had gone live with a new shop, and then our conversion rates fell.’ Mark had already heard of the foryouandyourcustomers team. However, it wasn’t until the problems emerged with the new shop and he obtained a customer testimonial from our Amsterdam office that he approached us.
Mauro Rallo: ‘And I think that right from the start of our collaboration, we showed you that foryouandyourcustomers has more to offer its customers than just technical solutions. We demonstrated that our approach also involves examining and assessing your shop from an e-commerce perspective, and that we can help you and your company to become a successful multichannel business.’
Mark Roex: ‘You certainly did, and I’ll never forget our first meeting. It was different, that’s for sure. We were immediately able to meet the entire team of foryouandyourcustomers in an informal setting. The CEOs of Garcia and Jeans Centre and I came to your office. There was a presentation on what you had planned for the online shop, how we could increase conversion rates, and how you would go about improving our online business in general – and then you invited us to dinner. I had never seen anything like it.’ Andrea Florio: ‘We’re different in a good way. For us, this means that we don’t just want to learn about the project; we also want to get to know the people behind that project. Bridging the gap between us and the customer and building a relationship with them is something that’s very important to us. It’s part of our integrated approach, allowing us to gain a better understanding of our customers and their needs, and then to provide them with optimal support.’
Andrea Florio was the technical lead on the project. His first step was to take charge of the hybris platform of the Jeans Centre online shop and bring it under the control of foryouandyourcustomers. ‘The foundation wasn’t bad, but quite a number of best practices weren’t being followed due to the stress of the project. So we had to begin with the foundation work before we could start developing new functionalities.’ Looking back on it, Mark considers this to be the most difficult period so far during his time as e-commerce manager for Garcia and Jeans Centre.
Mark Roex: ‘There was an awful lot of pressure on me from within the company, as you’d expect. We had spent a lot of money trying to make the new shop competitive online, and the results were disappointing. The only way to solve this problem was to invest even more money in the project. I am really glad that our Board shared this vision.’
Fabio Zuccato: ‘In a situation like that, it was a really courageous decision on Mark’s part to essentially take another step backwards with the shop in order to really be able to move forward with us. But he understood that our approach was the right way to go in the long term – in order for his business to develop profitably on the platform, we first had to fill in the gaps at the foundation level. Mark trusted our expertise and he was right to do so, as you can see now.’
Mark Roex: ‘The close collaboration with the whole e-commerce team and also the support I received from Fabio as a consultant were very important during this phase. We for example developed a marketing strategy to promote our business while working simultaneously on the shop. We used a number of quick wins to do this, including improvements to our newsletter, the presentation of our products, and countless online promotions. We also created a roadmap and defined goals that we would reach if our Group were to continue investing in the shop.’
Online shop taken over within a very short time and new functionalities developed
Andrea Florio: ‘I think it was a mutually fruitful and informative collaboration for both sides, and still is. For example, I learned an incredible amount about how retail works from a business perspective and how quickly things can change, which demanded a high degree of flexibility, and not just from me. I think Mark was also able to take something away with him in terms of how projects like these are handled from a technical point of view. For example, the things you need to be aware of and the importance of a solid foundation for a subsequently successful online shop. First of all, we needed two months to monitor the hybris platform and stabilise the shop. Then we turned our attention to the foundation work. This included search engine optimisation and improving the product data structure for upcoming promotions and merchandising activities. Building on that, we were then able to focus on new functionalities for the shop.
In everything we did, we always made sure that the shop was optimally positioned in terms of both technical and business aspects. I’ll give you an example: Fabio’s business analysis showed that potential customers cancelled the purchasing process on the product detail page and often on the shopping basket page. To avoid this from happening in the future, the shop was given a new product detail page and a new shopping basket page. As part of our improvements, we also created a mobile shop for Jeans Centre.’
Mark Roex: ‘Not to mention the approximately one million bugs that we eliminated during this period.’
Andrea Florio: ‘And there are still a few that need to be fixed as we go along.’
Mark Roex: ‘I have to say, the great thing about working with the team at foryouandyourcustomers is that they didn’t have to convince us that their employees had both technological and business know-how; we could instantly tell that the guys here are experts in both and can combine the two aspects seamlessly. They are passionate about their work, they’re flexible in their approach, and they always take customers’ needs into account as well as their problems.’
Fabio Zuccato: ‘Well, we have to return the compliment, not only to your colleagues who we work with in a very solution-oriented way, but also to you. Firstly, you showed real courage when you were willing to take a step backwards with us. And secondly, you always stayed focused on the continuous development of the shop the entire time. You never got bogged down in eliminating smaller problems; you always kept your eye on the bigger picture and worked towards that with us and your team. In terms of our team, I think our broad base and our flexibility are a big advantage for customers. Thanks to our wide range of experts, we cover the entire multichannel spectrum. We also know each other very well, we’re all close at hand so we can tackle things directly, and the team communicates seamlessly.’
Mauro Rallo: ‘And we should emphasise that the same applies no matter where you are based. If we encounter a problem here in Amsterdam but we know that one of our colleagues in Vienna or Zurich has already dealt with the same situation, then they can get involved in the project immediately and contribute their expertise, and we can work together towards a solution.’
Albena Mancheva: ‘Because we know each other very well and have already worked on projects together, it was really easy for me to jump straight in as part of the team.’
The software developer has been supporting the Jeans Centre team led by project managers Andrea Florio and Fabio Zuccato since the end of last year. It was during this period that ‘the first mini crisis, and so far the only one, occurred in the relationship between foryouandyourcustomers and the JOG Group,’ says Mark. In June 2014, Mark was working together with Fabio on the roadmap for further developing e-commerce business for Jeans Centre.
Mark Roex: ‘Towards the end of the year, we realised that our own targets weren’t being met quickly enough. Reinforcements arrived in the form of Albena – and she provided exactly the boost we were hoping for. This small bump in the road was soon overcome and we were able to meet our goals. Thanks to the Jeans Centre online shop, we’re now on a level playing field with our competitors. I’d even go so far as to say that we’ve overtaken the competition in some areas, so a big thank you to you all for that! The plan now is for the Jeans Centre team to be able to continue working on and with the online shop successfully. Then we can focus on Garcia Jeans and on online shops two and three, and this is where we rely completely on the expertise and support provided by you, our foryouandyourcustomers team.’