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Interview

Webinar: Adopt a Process to Support Your Market Growth and Agility, with Lauren Livak, Director of the Digital Shelf Institute and Lizbeth James, eBusiness Director, Nestlé

In a business dictated by an algorithm, designing a fluid, flexible process to get products ready for ecommerce and built out with content is essential.  Lauren Livak, who ran North American Digital shelf strategy at Johnson and Johnson and is now Director of the Digital Shelf Institute, has embarked on a ten episode series of webinars with new research and executive conversations. The content is so foundational to any leader plotting their digital shelf strategy, that we will be presenting it here in podcast format as well. Today’s episode focuses on the necessary elements of a winning digital shelf process and features Lauren, Peter, and Lizbeth James, eBusiness Director at Nestlé.

TRANSCRIPT

Peter (00:00):

Welcome to unpacking the digital shelf where we explore brand manufacturing in the digital age.

Peter (00:16):

Hey everyone from the digital self Institute in a business dictated by an algorithm, designing a fluid, flexible process to get products ready for e-commerce and built out with content is essential. Lauren Lebeck who ran north American digital shelf strategy at Johnson and Johnson, and is now the director of the digital shelf Institute as embarked on a 10 episode series of webinars, new research and executive conversations. The content is so foundational to any leader plotting their digital shelf strategy that we will be presenting it here in podcast format as well. So today's episode focuses on the necessary elements of a winning digital shelf process and features Lauren, me and Elizabeth James e-business director at Nesper in a business dictated by an algorithm, designing a fluid flexible process for getting products ready for e-commerce and built out with content is essential. So we are joined today by Lauren Lee vac who ran north American digital shelf strategy at Johnson and Johnson, and is now a commerce strategist for Salsify and the brains behind this entire series. And Lauren, thank you so much for coming on to kick things off. Of

Lizbeth (01:27):

Course. Thank you. Super excited for the first official session.

Peter (01:30):

I know and learn we'll be the first to tell you none of this would be coming to life without the hundreds of conversations with brand leaders over several years who share their stories best practices and challenges from the front lines. And that is why we are so grateful to have Elizabeth James e-business director of Nestle with us today to share her journey towards a winning digital shelf process. Elizabeth, thank you so much for contributing to the DSI community.

Lizbeth (01:57):

Thanks Peter. And it's, it's really an honor to be here. So thanks for having me and I'm super excited as well. In fact, the last six to seven years, I had the privilege to design the digital shelf, but in my role, it made these capacities. So what I've done today for our content and our format is literally the learnings, you know, the learnings, especially the mistakes, the failures, you know, those are the things you can actually learn from instead of making it on your own again. So, you know, some of those framework will definitely help you. So looking forward for a great discussion and can be post-op

Peter (02:36):

Yeah, after today, you all can just go ahead and make your own fresh mistakes. So before we start a reminder that throughout the session, please feel free to drop your questions into the Q and a window. There's there's two tabs there. There's the chat window, which is fine. If you just want to chime in with a thought, but if you want to ask a question, please use the Q and a tab so we can keep track of them all. And we'll get to as many as we can. And we'll be sending out a recording to you a couple of days, following that you can share with your colleagues. So with that, I want to run a poll actually. Oh, sorry. No, no. I want to talk to you about the overall series. So as we mentioned today is processed. You can see here on this, this slide, all of the all of the upcoming sessions that are going to fill out all of the pillars that Lauren has explored that are necessary to win on the digital shelf.

Peter (03:28):

And so those of you attended the maturity curve webinar last week or a few weeks ago. Not necessarily all of them are necessary at every phase, but over the course of your maturity, through the digital shelf playbook you'll get good and your organization will need to get good at all of these in order to be able to achieve your growth goals and and scale to where you need to be to keep winning. So with that, we want to kick things off and I wanted to speaking of kicking things off, kicked off this poll. So what do you think of the word process when you hear the word process in the digital shelf space, what do you think of, and just pick one, pick one that's meaningful for you. And in the meantime, while you're answering that question I'll pass it over to Lauren.

Lauren (04:17):

Thank you, Peter. So excited to see the results of the poll, but one is to cover off on the topics we are going to be discussing today. So we're going to talk about what process means in the digital world. How do we define that? Why it's important. Some people are, sometimes people don't think that it is very important, but it's actually the backbone of the digital shelf for, for those of you that are in it today, then what are the key elements of the digital shelf process who might be involved in different stages of the process and then how you take all of that information and operationalize it. And no matter if you are a beginner in this space, and you're trying to define your process from scratch, or maybe you already have one defined and you're trying to figure out how do I optimize it, or how do I better socialize it? We're going to cover a lot of content that will be helpful to all different groups, no matter where you are on your level of maturity for process.

Peter (05:15):

All right, Lauren, thank you. I'm cutting off the pole and I am sharing the results. You can see the winner is syndication and, and you can see the losers, supply chain and packaging and digital analytics and Lauren, any any immediate responses to this, or is this about what you expected?

Lauren (05:40):

It is about what I expected. And I'm actually glad that supply chain packaging and digital analytics are only 10% because one of the big things we're going to talk about today is how digital shelf process spans not only contents indication, but also the upfront setup from a supply chain packaging perspective, as well as the analytic. So this actually fits in perfectly to our content. And hopefully we'll give a little bit of some learnings as we go through all of our slides, then dive in. Awesome. Thank you, Peter. So to get started, we first wanted to define what digital shelf process is, right? So with the poll, we wanted to better understand where people were thinking when they hear the word digital process. And what we're going to be talking about today is the end to end omni-channel process in which a company prepares approves and launches a product online to an endpoint, whether that be a retailer or distributor, a digital catalog, a direct to consumer site, there's many different types of endpoints, but we're really trying to talk about how you launch your product online and have a fully built out brand experience just to kind of set the stage about how we are defining it.

Lauren (06:55):

And there's a lot of common questions around this. So Peter shared that I spoke with a lot of different leaders in the space, and these were the common questions I received things like, where do I start? Why is it even important? What should I think about how do I document it? And so myself and Lizbeth are actually going to talk through a lot of those common questions and how we addressed them. So when you think about digital process, just to give some examples about what that might mean, you saw some of those in the polls. So a lot of people clicked on syndication, right? So the element of actually getting that content out to the Walmarts or the Amazons of the world, that is a process in and of itself, but a digital shelf process can also include things like making sure you have the right digitally first packaging information.

Lauren (07:48):

How do you make sure that you are activating a new search trends? How can you think about setting up a new item, even if that's for in store set up through GDSN and then online setup, those are all different forms of process that actually fit into the overarching picture of your digital shelf process. So just to give some examples there, and one of the questions always is when does it start? When do I start thinking about the digital shelf? When do I start thinking about having a digitally first product? And it really happens all the way in the beginning during innovation. So if you're thinking about your R and D team, and if you're making a product, how are they incorporating consumer feedback? Are they getting that from ratings and reviews online? Are they getting that from the marketing team? Who's hearing feedback from customers about different products and what they're looking to create.

Lauren (08:45):

And then through product development, there's a lot of different features that need to be considered is my packaging. E-Commerce ready. Can I ship this product? Right? Because depending on what you're shipping, if it's food, there's all kinds of different requirements and temperature things like chocolate. You have to think about that differently. From a shipping perspective the type of bottle you're shipping, what if it gets rattled around? Can it actually be in a box and arrive to the consumer intact? So there's a lot of different elements that are still considered a part of that digital shelf process all the way from, I have the idea about a product to it lives online, where a consumer can purchase it. Then you have the content development, syndication and analysis piece of it. Those are the key buckets that we're going to be talking about today. And we're going to outline at a high level, all of the different stages that you go through along that digital shelf process to help you kind of frame in your mind either how to build it out or how to make sure that your process encompasses all of those different pieces.

Lauren (09:52):

So before I kind of get into all of the different buckets that live within the digital process, I always like to talk about the why, why is process important? And this is a question I get a lot, and this is one of my favorite slides because these numbers here actually depict the number of times the requirements for Amazon target and Walmart changed in the past year, 167 times Amazon changed their requirements. That can be something from the number of characters in a title to that. A very popular question, does this contain batteries, even if it's a food product in all of these requirements are constantly changing. And that means that you need to have a process that enables you to update all of those features or titles or added information so that you can accurately depict that information to your retailer and to your point. So it's really important to make sure that you can adapt to all of those changes.

Lauren (10:56):

And one of my favorite now sayings, as I think about process and this kind of came out, a lot of the conversations I had is that process is not a dirty word. Sometimes when people say the word process either people tune out or they kind of curl in a corner and say, oh, I don't want to worry about process. There's a lot of red tape and a lot of logistics that go with it. But when you think about the digital shelf, if you do not have a process, you cannot be agile. You cannot change quickly. You can't work cross-functionally with your teams. And so process is really the backbone of setting up everything that you need to get all of your content out onto all of those digital endpoints. So I encourage you to think about process positively and Lizbeth. And her section is also going to cover how you can quantify and look at the ROI of process and how you can really think about what that is doing for your company, how you are getting more time for your products, being able to be sold online.

Lauren (11:59):

When you think about your overall process. So now let's get into the meat of process. When I think about the digital shelf process, these are the high level buckets. Now when Lizbeth and I were preparing for this, we were talking about each of these buckets and we were both saying, there's so many things that happen in each of these. And that is very true, but what we wanted to do was just at a high level help you put your head around what are the major steps, and also help you to identify which teams might need to be involved in that step so that you can begin documenting and kind of having that story around what process means for your organization. So if I, if I start on the left-hand side and I start from the beginning, the kickoff, that's really where it all starts. And as we define digital shelf in the beginning of the webinar, and we think about the preparing, the creating, and then the approving of all of the information and the content and getting it out live, the kickoff means when do I start?

Lauren (13:04):

So how do you know that you have a product that you want to sell online? Where does that kind of trigger moment happen within your organization? Does it come from the supply chain team? Is it an automatic notification from a system that you currently have? That's very, very important to make sure that you understand where it starts and who owns that information. And then from there, once, you know, you have a product, you need to understand the content behind it, right? So where is your supply chain data? Where is the brand information around it? How does the brand team want to position this product when it's being sold to the consumer? So there's all of that data, importing data collecting that needs to happen. Then once you have that, you need to create all of your content. So we're thinking from a digital shelf perspective, you need all of the images of the product.

Lauren (13:57):

You need the ingredient information, maybe enhanced content below the fold or an additional enhanced image to put in the carousel. So all of that content creation that's has to happen. Whether it be with an internal agency or an external agency, or someone on your team, then you have to go through approval. So this could be either a very short process or a lengthy process, depending on your organization. Do you need to approve all of the information through regulatory and legal, or is there a marketer that just approves the brand story gets signed off and it can be moved to the next step, then syndication, how do you get all of that information out to the correct end point and make sure that it's meeting all of the requirements and then analysis, how are you actually measuring all of that work? You put into your content and sure you're plugging in all of those insights back into the overall process.

Lauren (14:57):

And that's why when we took the poll, I was really excited to see that analysis and supply chain. Weren't really the number one thing you think about when you think of process, but then I would really encourage you to make sure you're including those in your overarching process, because that analysis actually feeds that continuous feedback loop that I have down there at the bottom that talks about feeding all of the things that you're learning about your products and what consumers are saying into the creation of all of your content and any of your future products. So high level, those are the big buckets that we talk about when we were talking about the digital shelf process. Now, who are we talking about? Sorry, my slides went a little too fast there. Who are we talking about in each of those steps? Now, depending on your organization, it can be different because there's different types of functions and different people working on different things, but we listed out the potential functions that might be involved in each of these different steps to kind of help you frame as well as figuring out who you might need to talk to, to ask these questions.

Lauren (16:03):

So from a kickoff perspective, I have seen it'd be the supply chain team. Sometimes it's the project management team. It can even be it or brand marketing that kind of kicks off. Hey, we have a new product and now we need to develop content and get it out and sell it on Amazon from a data import perspective. Also it can be project management, it can be it supply chain, master data management. Any of that data can fall with those teams. Content creation usually falls either with the marketing or the sales team can fall with the creative team, whether that be an internal team or an external agency. And sometimes if there is a digital function, digital center of excellence, that digital team can also be responsible for that content creation side of things. Then from an approval standpoint, that could either be a compliance team clean and it's team legal regulatory, or if there isn't an extensive approval process, it can be the marketing team as well from a syndication standpoint that could be marketing an external agency.

Lauren (17:12):

It may be a digital center of excellence if that is a team that you have in your organization. And then from an analytics standpoint, if you have an existing data and analytics team that could fall with that team. So making sure that you're including them in the conversation or even sales, or sometimes I've seen it fall within a customer service part of the organization, because they're actually collecting information from the consumers or they're receiving the calls or the emails or, or checking the ratings and reviews. So those are the key buckets that we think about when we think about the digital shelf process. And these are the groups that be involved. So hopefully this helps you navigate who do I need to talk to to make sure that I'm encompassing all of these aspects of the digital shelf process. And now I'm going to hand it over to Liz Beth, and she's going to talk about her experiences.

Lizbeth (18:05):

Thanks Lauren. Next slide please. Oh, one slide missing. Yeah. Okay. So before we start, I just want to like set the context a little more with respect to digital shelf and honestly the whole kind of top about it, right? Like usually when you hear digital shelf, it's always about online sales online POS and you know, when it is content, it's all about marketing and the marketing team and production contents indication. But in reality, digital shelf plays a different role in real life. So think about it. Like if you're a only player, digital shelf is actually your 24 7 catalog for your product. And it's kind of have that ability to provide unlimited media impressions, like literally a fingertip away. Your catalog is there. You have the opportunity to dynamically change the content into the content. Whenever you feel like have a consistent content up there, and this will help your sales across different touch points better.

Lizbeth (19:12):

It is in store, whether it is pure play, whether it is any aggregators, like say skip the dishes or Uber leaves, or it could be an intermediary like Instacart in a buggy. And now more and more touch points are actually coming into picture like cooler screens and retail store. So ultimately digital shelf is literally your media catalog. That's 24 7 catalog of endeavor. So when we think about the process, it's not just your online is the, the budget which you are located is not from your online POS person date. So you need to start thinking this as a holistic element to help your business. And the second aspect to it is e-commerce the general perception is still track e-commerce as a channel and a channel percentage. It's all exclusive for every business. But in reality, the market is changing. The marketplace is getting digital, which means Erie data is changing their capabilities.

Lizbeth (20:09):

They are digitizing their old ways of working. And it's just a matter of a future state of business. So years ago, when they talked about digital marketing, digital marketing was a standard, a standalone entity, and then marketing is another section of the marketing team. But let's think about today, right? Like what's really happening. There is no digital marketing separately. Any marketing you do has a digital impact digital aspect to it. Even your television commercials, even if you're still in that play in that category, still isn't in line or inline, you know, media with YouTube. So, so it's just a, of digitizing the marketplace. So when you think about digitizing the marketplace, that makes you go back to your drawing board and it may demand the destruction of the existing ways of working. And this is where, you know, the most difficulty, right? Like you make a lot of mistakes because obviously there are legacy systems in place, existing structure, existing team structured.

Lizbeth (21:09):

And especially if you're with a big CPG company, you can, you can feel it like it's extremely difficult for you to navigate through that disruption, but it actually demands it. So it is, this is the right time. This is an opportunity for you to relook at your overall structure, your resources, reassessing your legacy systems. When I say legacy systems, it would be an older version of your SAP for your master data, or it could be like an ingredients platform, like a TEDx or any old systems you have. I personally have seen about 80 legacy systems and in one of the companies that are worked, they can really call out the brand name due to confidentiality reasons, but 80 legacy systems where it could have been addressed with just one new tech platform. So it is important for us to really take a step back and reassess the systems and platforms and your tech stack currently available.

Lizbeth (22:01):

And is it really supporting the new marketplace in fact, five years ago, what you thought would be a right solution? Probably not the right solution to date in terms of technology, in terms of the version of the technology. So you need to really look at what the studio and what's right for you. And again, customize it for your category and your market, and then redefining the roles and responsibilities. This is critical because most of the game, what we do is okay, let's integrate everything to the traditional process, and then it will all start forwarding in place. It is not the case. It's very difficult to just produce, you know, to integrate back to the traditional team. This means it, it requires for you to have a new role or a new capability team, or maybe outsource that part of the work. So redefining the roles and responsibilities is again critical and most importantly, educating and aligning with the workforce at an enterprise level.

Lizbeth (22:53):

So this is not a marketing teams work, or a sales teams work. It's an enterprise level change we are looking for. So just like how Lauren was saying, why is it important because you need to have these advocates to make this change happen. So educate them, explain why this is happening. And when you really derive the process, it should make their life easier. So if it's going to complicate them, obviously your process is not really accurate and either your capability levels could be lower. So you need to make sure that you build that capability level and then make it easier for them. So that educated and enterprise diverse. And you have the advocates with you and revamp of the product content ecosystem is the first step towards adapting to be successful in the new marketplace. So digital shelf is not necessarily just an online you know, shelf or an POS initiative.

Lizbeth (23:46):

This really defines your fundamental process for your future state of mind marketplace. It's like things. So one other aspect, before we get into the process roadmap framework you, you have to like really take it through the filters considering the audience here. I know that from different market, different category different teams. So the first and foremost capabilities of beauty, you know, I know I vendor where you work with a global company, the chances that you get a lot of global solutions and, you know, you will be asked to do customization at the market level, but sometimes that customizations could be so different that it's better off you do it on your own rather than being part of the global solution. So you need to really understand what, what is that you need. Okay. So it's like category could change the category you're working in, change your market.

Lizbeth (24:40):

So for instance Walmart, Canada, and Walmart us in terms of their capabilities is very different. So if you have to work for these two retailers, you need to have a different set of process for these two retailers. So one of the best way you can actually build the groups of retailers to have a respect and process for each retailer group. And it could be defined at the capability level. So for instance, a retailer who has sells the quarter or the one big one who take content from CGS, from GDS and plus a content refresh template. So based on a capability level, or with respect to the business model there, and, or a combination of a customized channel strategy. So define the retailer group, which will help you define your process in a much more accurate way, but remember that some of these aspects, even though it could be multiple processes, but then duplication can easily happen in that process.

Lizbeth (25:36):

So make sure that you optimize it, you eliminate duplication, make sure you have the right tech stack, like a good product experience management platform or a dam like a digital assets management platform, so that it helps in keeping consistency and increases the speed to market. And finally, to simplify the process, because I have seen in most cases, it, cause we can really change the traditional structure. You try to do a lot of workarounds and, you know, keep multiple platforms, multiple systems, and it makes it very complicated. And overall the, the output, the senior leadership and the amount of budget we spent will be like a lot more than really simplifying and accepting the fact that, okay, change is required. These platforms have to go there, there should be a new process. There should be ways of working. So just try to simplify it. And with the right tech stack, this process can be way easier than what most of the CPG companies are going through. Currently. Next slide please.

Lauren (26:37):

And one thing I'll add really quickly was that, is that think about it as I like to call it the clean sheet of paper approach, but it cleans you to papers, start with a clean whiteboard and just identify what you want your process to be without limits. And then you can kind of backtrack and say, okay, this might not be possible, but let's do it this way just to kind of think of it in a

Lizbeth (26:56):

Absolutely. Absolutely. I totally agree with you. So so with that, actually that's a good segue. So how to get started. So what should be your framework look like? Right. So of course identify your key stakeholders. But remember here, they're not like most of the time what happens is we pick all the leaders from every division to a room and start having the conversation, but you don't do that. Take, obviously you need to have the alignment, but try to bring in the person who actually doing the work most of the time, your junior resources are the ones who actually doing the work and they are naturally tech savvy. So they would have tried to find multiple workarounds to make your current process work. And these workarounds can add up into a disaster in the future in terms of budget, in terms of optimization speed to market.

Lizbeth (27:45):

And it could have been established for like years. Then it is tough for you to clean up. So it's better for you to have the people who actually do the work that that should be your focus group to like start having the conversation. And then the second aspect is of course, then once you shortlist your stakeholders I personally prefer the agile methodology, but then it's up to you what works for you, but usually it's agile methodology. It's easy for you to like really roll out a process within a matter of a month or two. So it's, it's, it's good to have a proper structure. We have a workshop. So get the state quarters in the room to map the process, bringing in SME to identify the gaps. And this is very critical. Why do you need the subject magics? But then usually you tend to you know, an SME from one of your traditional consultant group that probably may not be an accurate way to do it.

Lizbeth (28:39):

Like you may want an SMU who really understands your category, your business, your market, your retailers, and have the knowledge of the tech stack and the technology required to make the process work, bringing NSME like that, to identify the gaps. And it is very important because no matter how much how good your current processes there is definitely there will be gaps in terms of expertise, platforms and mentor a group of like other different aspects of, you know but you will help to make the process work. So create the gap document to assess the need for additional resources and estimate the budget requirements. So this is again, a very critical step in the process. That's your third step. Once you have your gap document, you clearly know that, okay, this may have an impact on the current organization, structure, capabilities and platforms. And then, and only one study can help eliminate duplication of platforms and processes.

Lizbeth (29:37):

Then you are getting the alignment in terms of, okay, which are the legacy systems need to go or to be updated or to have a different version. And do you, do we have the capability internally right now? Can we recruit enough team members? But again, as you know, that it's extremely difficult for you to have the right set of you know, team members like getting econ resources is extremely difficult right now. So probably how do you plan that? Right? Like either, you know, assess the right kind of candidates from your existing team. And then also like bring in the right SMEs, bringing in the write-ups to esteem, to eliminate that the requirement, that capability requirement, and then the fourth step is finalized and document the full end to end process and review with all the teams here. Again, try to implement your plan in phases, which will support with your budget requirements.

Lizbeth (30:30):

Because once you do your phase one, you get actually have a business case for your face to, to kind of go back and ask for the dollars required to make the entire process. And fifth point is identify which part of the process has the biggest backlog. And if you're working with a big CPG company, we are talking 1500 skews, 2000 skews, 2,500 skews. And when you do a process change, it could be as simple as changing your short description from 40 characters to 60 characters, you would be doing that for like 1500 skews. So that's actually a lot of backlog and work and cleanup required. So if you have the budget and if you get afforded, it's always good for you to have an external agency to tackle the backlog because, you know, you're, you're actually forcing a change in the system and you don't want to like, add so much additional work to the team.

Lizbeth (31:22):

And, you know, if you want the process to be successful, you need to like provide it the right amount of help to make sure that the process move forward. And finally, the metrics to measure the progress of the process. This is interesting because we are on this track back the digital shelf metrics in terms of availability, share of search ratings and reviews and different aspects. But like no one really like really focused on how to measure, like, you know, what, bringing in this process, what does that be actually saved? So it's a very nice structure, which Lauren here put together. So let me quickly take you through here. So what is,

Peter (32:01):

Hey, Elizabeth, so sorry to interrupt. Can you go back to that slider or Lauren, can you, cause that was a lot and I'd love to just, I it's awesome. I would just love to pause here for a second. And if you don't mind just throw a few questions out at, at you and Lauren and see if I get anything back.

Peter (32:21):

Yeah. I was just thinking, you know, when you, when you were talking about identify the backlog and begin to end, certainly anyone on the call, if there is a, there's a particular stage here that you'd like to dig in a little bit more, throw a question in, but, and when you were talking about the biggest backlog and tackle how to unlock it, one of the big that you mentioned was spelled B U D G E T budget, and, and you started talking about agencies and, and I think I would, I would love to get a sense of where does that conversation come in? I'm I'm, you know, w where does that conversation come in, in the process, sort of, how does it, how does it sort of follow through how long did this process of one through six kind of take for you to go to go through this? I'd love to just dig into that a little bit about how you manage all.

Lizbeth (33:10):

Yeah, absolutely. So it all actually goes back to that retailer group. We have identified. So once we have that, okay, so this is the first priority retailers we attacking. And then once you define the process, then the budget usually comes from either the brand budget or your trade, but right. Like, so you need to do like a combination of budget, especially showing what's the value of each of those retailers and the brands benefit from rolling out with this process. So it's very complicated if you're in an environment where, you know, 60 brands and then, you know, 20 retailers who are priority readers who are already have e-commerce capabilities. But yeah, the, the time, I would say the way we tackle this in, I mean, not in St. Paul when I was there mainly looking at the priority customer. So we started the process focusing on the priority customers and very clearly define what needs to be done, to use that as a backbone for all our other customer, other retailers, as we rolled out the process.

Lizbeth (34:11):

And then obviously the budget is a huge discussion. And especially when it comes to budget tech stack requirements subscription. So we rely a lot on the global team as a whole, because sometimes, you know, it benefits for you to have that negotiation at the global level. But when it comes to tackling the backlog, it's always good for you to customize it at the market level. And the budget usually comes as a combination of either the retailer or the brand teams. So, and of course there are, in certain cases, each business team will have a budget on their own. So a part of that budget goal from the business team is for that.

Peter (34:48):

And did you find, thank you, that was really clarifying. And did you find that in addition to being the top retailers that you went after, was it also finding the right leader internally? Like, cause I I've heard sometimes it's you almost pick the leader necessarily that I was just wondering if, if, and Lauren, you, you know, you've talked to so many of these brands jumping on this. Cause I feel like at the end of the day, people are doing this work. So I'm wondering how much that matters to and getting this through.

Lauren (35:20):

I w I, the one thing I'll add is you definitely look at the leader and you look at the one that's the most complex I would say is the kind of other element to look at. So if you're working with a retailer that takes a lot of items set up, or there's just a lot of moving steps in the process and they need their content say 12 weeks prior to when it launches online, you want to start with that in defining the process, identifying the gaps and asking for the budget, because then after that, all of the processes will be shorter and easier to tackle. So the, the level of complexity, as well as the leader in this space enables you to kind of map everything that could possibly happen and then scale down from there for all of the other retailers.

Lizbeth (36:05):

Yeah. And, and from my experience, usually the customer push has a major role to play, you know, like sometimes if the customer, so for instance, right now in Canada, one mark decided to launch everything on me. Like they have an only buyer merchant on me. Everything is all, man. They don't want to separate it store and online anymore. So if your customer is taking a big roar or the next step in terms of, okay, this is our focus, then automatically the leader of the team will actually start focusing towards that. So that's the easiest route. Then of course at the brand level, there are leaders who are like future visionaries and they know that, okay, this is where the world is going. So they kind of support you more than the others. So

Peter (36:50):

That's great. I hope forgive me for interrupting, but I just wanted to give him a little bit here. And so unless you have other thoughts, please feel free to dive in to the next.

Lizbeth (37:02):

Absolutely. Okay. So this is our structure, which we've talked about. So if we have a process established, then you know, there is a way we can actually track the advantages of having this new process initiated, and this should be communicated widely in the system. So everyone knew like why did we do what we did and why we should keep adapting and adapt with this change? Right? Like, so some of the important aspects here is like the additional days of selling time and lock resource time. And in terms of metrics, number of fees from trigger to segregation, right? And optimize content to create the common major. So these are all like smaller elements, but all of this really adds to the final output and it actually helps your state. And then I would say one main thing is ultimately your availability, your present everywhere. You're not really missing any touch points. Once you have your digital shelf, backend is set up, then that means you can easily syndicate content to any platforms you want, as soon as you want. So, you know, availability will be captured. So that means you're not letting a digitally native brand grow faster. You're actually, your space is kind of captured and you're present everywhere with the right content and the best in class.

Lauren (38:19):

Okay. And the other thing I'll add there is when you're thinking about resources. So we talked a lot about budget and as you're expanding, thinking potentially about expanding your e-commerce team, you need to think about a couple of different factors from a metric standpoint, increase sales. Of course you can drive the growth that your has set out for, but also increasing your resource efficiency. And how can you monitor that? How can you see how much you're doing daily, how fast you're doing it by actually measuring the process, how long things are taking and where there might be bottlenecks, it helps you also make a case for additional resources. So I put it in that aspect as well, because documenting out this process, not only helps you do the actual work, but gives you a full picture of who's doing what, how long it's taking them. And if you need additional resources to speed it up,

Peter (39:09):

Yeah. It gets you your benchmarks, right. So that you can continually measure. And when you think about, you know, when, when we talked about the maturity curve last time, you know, you have this, this sort of, at least right now, it's the final stage where you're in sort of this continuous optimization of, of, oh, the, the algorithm changed or, or there's a new keyword I could go after. And the, and the person that responds to that faster than, than the, than their competitors gains a, an advantage on the digital shelf. Right? So the, the more you're able to sort of measure these things and provide this as impact back to the world and in an easier fashion, the more you can just drive investment in this.

Lizbeth (39:49):

Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. In fact, like all our budget approvers is actually led with the business case and these metrics really help, you know, communicating that easily and especially to get that additional flags. Okay, great. All right. So this is the, this is this, I would say the most important part of the process, the change management, because as I mentioned in the beginning of the beginning of my section, like this is not necessarily an online POS or digital shelf syndication project. When you define the process for digital shelf, you're literally disrupting your in their system. So you need to have your wise ready and in terms of have the right advocates for your process. So your key stakeholders can actually play as your process advocate. So when you start having the conversations with them, so it has to be easy for them.

Lizbeth (40:44):

It should be convenient for them. They should feel that their life is getting better with this process. So make sure that they are your process advocates and you should have a proper change management protocol before implementation begins and over communicate overshare. It's extremely important to make any process work and have a central place where everyone can access it. And if this should be a live living document, because as you can see how Lauren was sharing the number of times, the regular changing different aspects. So, you know, the process you need to have somewhere the process where you can continuously update the process and changes and communicate that to the respective teams as well. Make sure the process is easy to access, put on groups in war and conduct ongoing webinars to educate the workforce at an enterprise level, why to enforce this need for transition and why we are doing what we are doing and how it is helping the system overall.

Lizbeth (41:41):

And just to conclude a process approach, a constant optimization, some of the keywords being discovering, defining, educating, and finally automating. So the word automate is very important because manual work in this space right now is extremely high, and it's extremely tough to handle, especially with skews like thousand skews, 1500 skews. So you don't want that. You need to pick the right tech stack and you need to pick the one which can actually evolve with your strategy with your time. And because like some of the text pick options you probably available right now might have worked for you in the past, probably not now, and may not be the right platform to be compatible with the retailers to be they're changing. So it's extremely important for you to have that right user interface, right back, back, back in technologies right. Capability teams internally or externally as you need and automate as much as you can automate it. So that will actually help you to, you know, do extremely well in the market and be the first to provide the content, have consistency across as well. So that's what I have and that, or do you, Peter

Peter (42:56):

First of all, we'd love it. If anyone has any thoughts, you know, as we went through this, I know it was, it's a lot of information. If there are areas that we touched on that you would like to hear more about, just drop it in the Q and a tab. We'd love to hear it because we're continually improving this and thinking about what additional content could we offer to help you through your journey? We, we are really at time, I just want to ask one pet, you know, Elizabeth earlier, you brought up the mistakes along the way. When you, when you think back and Lauren, I'm going to tag you on this as well. Cause I I'm sure it was once in your career, you made a mistake. But Elizabeth, when you think about the things you were talking about in that one through six process, where was your biggest learning? And in some ways, I guess that goes to what is the most difficult part of it, but what, what surprised you the most, or what do you, if you were, if someone had done this webinar for you before you started, what do you know? What do you wish? You, yeah,

Lizbeth (44:00):

The, the biggest aspect is the wrong information, not having the right education. So for instance, digital shelf is an online or li device or online only aspects of that was actually the biggest wrong information. Not really, not necessarily understanding that, you know, this had the, still have an impact on pretty much all your systems, right? So that was actually the biggest point. And the second aspect of that is because of that misunderstanding, you tend to around, you tend to make your existing technologies and processes work and keep everything there. And you bring in this new technology, which will actually help your digital shelves. And then you try to keep everyone happy. So, okay. I've even woken around. We will do, we will have duplication to dance, to PMs. It's all good. So we can actually make all of this work and then you keep working on it. It literally just wastes your time. Everyone will be finally exhausted with, oh, nothing is working. Nothing's working blame the new platform, which came on board because, you know, it just happened to be the new platform. Everything else was working prior to this, and then the backend is not connecting. So yeah, so it all starts with the right education and accepting the fact that this is not just an online change. This is something it's a digitization of the marketplace. Hence we have to relook at what we have. So

Peter (45:24):

I would imagine that's where doing it in phases, where you get some success, like pick a channel, nail it, then prove it, then, then say something.

Lizbeth (45:34):

And then as your business case show the before-after. Yeah, it's a lot of hard work. It's a lot of oversharing over training. You need to definitely have an artificial needs to be in this space, especially with the big CPG companies.

Peter (45:49):

I think everyone's super jealous that they're not working through your process. Lauren, how about you any last, any last thoughts?

Lauren (45:57):

I was just going to say, and actually a question came up in the Q and a, which I think is perfect change management. I think that was the piece I, I personally underestimated and I've spoken to a lot of customers that have underestimated as well. I know the question was, are there any tips on change management? We have a whole webinar dedicated to that, but the, the high level theme I will say is making sure that it's top down and bottoms up. You need executive engagement, you need their alignment to make sure everyone's marching towards the same thing, but you also need to Liz Beth's point the people doing the work to believe it, and to help share that across the organization as well. So that's really, really critical in apart in a part of building a process that works.

Peter (46:35):

So there are a couple of questions. So I'm going to let folks on the line know that if you need to run, do I'm just going to ask these last two questions cause they're, they're interesting. And and of course the recording will come, but so Lisbeth, Alison asked if you've leveraged Salsify's workflow for any part of your processes.

Lizbeth (46:54):

Yeah. I mean, I have breasts any day, but not in an se, but in my previous role with Durrell and with Coke. So we did leverage Salsify's workflow. And in fact, I mean, compared to other other partners, like I personally would say that the way the notifications being sent and the way you can actually auto set up your end care approval team it's it's way easier compared to many other platforms that you have to keep selecting your approvers. You have to keep sending notifications manually. So this hospital flow really worked better for us. So yeah, I personally like that platform for the workflow way better than others. So

Peter (47:36):

I do, I, I connect with that just because we use, we have now started to really use a project management system on, on our teams here and called a sauna for, for, you know, for the kind of work that we do. And it's transformative when there's no more like outside email threads happening that you don't know who picked up what I get. And I know this is maybe fundamental people, but it certainly has surprised me. I've never sort of worked at this scale before. And so it's been really helpful. The last question from an anonymous attendee. So how do you tackle, gathering all of the required attributes of the various online retailers without totally overwhelming the teams and individuals responsible with every product at launch or only as needed since not all skews will be offered on all endpoints?

Lizbeth (48:27):

Yeah. So this is, this is this, I would say you need to have a centralized system for this as new work ground, you have to have a centralized team. So we do keep a comprehensive property list. Actually we use a Salsify as a product experience management platform. So we kind of use the platform to create the product detail page in Salsify, where we will have all the generic and common attributes together in one place. And at any time, whenever there is a new retailer is coming on board. So we have exclusive retailer properties separated under the retailer property groups. So we'll have the master data property list. We will have all the other like common property lists for multiple retailers and then retailer group specific properties. And all you need to do is just manage that in one centralized content ecosystem. If you don't have a platform like that, you can start at Excel sheet and have it like a common Google sheet where everyone can come in and populate, but it is very difficult.

Lizbeth (49:27):

It's always good to have a proper platform. And then that's it like, you just need to keep managing them. And every time, whenever there is a new, so this is your property side of things. And then you also need to look at your distribution list based on your planigram. You need to make sure that your skew list is updated agonist to each retailer so that your touch points, we know, you know exactly which skew is going, you know, which skill is getting updated across which customers. So these are the two tours, which is like, my Bible will help me move my life easier because it's not one or two skews.

Peter (50:04):

I, so go ahead, Lauren. Yeah.

Lauren (50:07):

Oh, no. That's okay. I was just going to add similar to what we were talking about before, when you think about choosing the most complex retailer, I would do the same from a retailer requirements perspective, pick the retailer who has the most amount of requirements and set that as the standard for picking out, or excuse me, for creating content for any skew. Because if you use the largest amount of requirements, then you're not going to have to worry about it for all of your other retailers. And what I've seen a lot of different people do is actually create a brief where you can actually fill all that information out at the beginning of your process. So it's captured and it lives in which other, whichever source of truth that you have. So you can always pull it even if you don't need it for all of your retailers.

Peter (50:54):

Well, Lauren Elizabeth, thank you so much for kicking off our digital shelf playbook series today. And thanks to all of you here for hanging in with us for that extra Q and a time, we really appreciate it. We'll email a recording of this webinar to all of you with a link to signing up for the upcoming digital shelf playbook series, a webinars to come thanks to Lauren and Elizabeth for outlining this critical piece of a winning digital shelf strategy. If you would like to see or share the original source webinar, we have the link in the show notes, or go to digital shelf institute.org/digital-shelf-playbook. All the webinars of the digital shelf playbook series will be posted there over the coming months. If you have questions about any of this or hate using show notes, you can reach out to Lauren Lee vac anytime on our LinkedIn page or@laurenatdigitalshelfinstitute.org. Thanks for being part of our community.