6 Tips from a Global Retailer’s Digital Transformation

How a global retail platform used composable tech to improve user experience and drive long-term growth

Thought Leadership

By Apply Digital Staff | May 12, 2023
The Very Group Website

Paul Hornby is Director of Digital Experience for The Very Group, a global digital retail platform based in the UK. In early May, at an event co-hosted by E2X - Apply Digital, Constructor.io, commercetools, and Amplience, Paul gave a presentation about his experience transitioning to composable tech. Using real-world examples, Paul shared six key learnings that you can use to advance your organization’s digital transformation.

1. Clarify your pain points

Before beginning their transition to composable tech, The Very Group struggled with an aging Oracle tech stack that was difficult to maintain and update. Among others, their company’s pain points included:

  • Being limited to one new technology release every two weeks

  • Having downtime for each release, resulting in lost revenue

  • A higher rate of developer employee attrition, because the company used older Java technology.

Faced with these challenges, The Very Group knew they needed to embark on MACH transformation. But before they could truly get started, they decided to…

2. Adopt a storytelling mindset

An important part of Paul’s role was to tell the story needed to create openness to change. Stories make it easy to identify problems, propose solutions, and begin the process of transformation.

To lay the foundation for change, Paul recommended to:

  • Create stories that are fact-based, not emotion-based

  • Put the audience at the heart of the stories you tell; Paul’s presentations to the board and executive teams were different from the ones he told his own team

  • Pursue buy-in from the top down, starting with the CEO

  • Illustrate the technical and business issues old tech can create.

Once stakeholders are primed for change, it’s time to…

3. Get executive buy-in and build the team

Getting all members of a tech transition team on board as early as possible is crucial. Paul shared that the transition to composable tech may require people to change roles, switch teams, or upgrade skill sets. To start team building:

  • Book early-stage kickoff meetings with relevant teams (C-suite, Product, UX, Strategy, DevOps, etc.)

  • Get executive buy-in to make it clear that digital transformation is a top priority

  • Identify key transition players from each team

  • Begin sketching out timelines for project stages

Once teams and transition team members understand what is coming, it’s a good idea to…

Group of people sitting across from each other and looking at speakers standing by a tv
Speakers sitting by a tv

4. Take it one step at a time

Trying to change an entire technology stack overnight is a recipe for disaster. It’s more efficient, cost-effective, and practical to roll out change one step at a time.

For example, The Very Group:

  • Started by adding a new global header and footer to their ecommerce site

  • Created new Product Description Pages (PDPs) and tested them to see what worked

  • Held a learning session where board members tested the new eCommerce site for themselves to understand the value of the changes being made

Once the tests were running and the board was aligned, Paul and the team worked to…

5. Bring in partners

The Very Group assembled a consortium of technology partners to meet regularly to align on all aspects of the transformation. This way, all teams had a chance to discuss goals and opportunities, receive input and feedback, and continue to move forward.

Once partners are aligned, last but not least, Paul explained one final insight. You must…

6. Review the data

A great thing about rolling out a new tech stack one step at a time is the opportunity to collect data.

Data is key to understanding the value of change. Without it, buy-in will dwindle over time, and stakeholders will demand results. By collecting data from the very first test implementations, you bring the receipts – i.e. the business case for moving to composable tech.

To connect with our team or learn more about how Apply Digital helped The Very Group transform, please reach out to us at hello@applydigital.com.