Multichannel Success Podcast Season 3 Episode 1 - Transcript

Why you probably don't need to re-platform - but why you might.

To listen to this podcast

Mark Pinkerton [00:00:07 - 00:00:15]

Today we're going to talk about platforms and why you might not need a new platform. 

Deepak Anand [00:00:17 - 00:00:20]

I'm the GM of Shopline. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:00:20 - 00:00:25]

And Jeremy Wilson, I'm a consultant with Prospero in the e-com and technology space. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:00:25 - 00:00:47]

and I'm your host Mark Pinkerton. So what I want to talk about initially is to try and give our listeners some explanation of what do we actually mean by a platform. Is it a platform? Is it an ecosystem? We've talked before recording this of the various different iterations. So Jeremy if you'd like to start with that one.

Jeremy Wilson [00:00:45 - 00:01:10]

You mentioned platform and ecosystem in the same breath because we'll talk about monoliths and others coming up in the future but it used to be that the platform was a monolith that tried to do everything. The platform now tends to be a small subset of a wider ecosystem that supports your business. So both are used interchangeably but there's a slight difference. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:01:08 - 00:01:15]

And are you seeing people changing just platform now, or are you seeing people change ecosystem?. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:01:15 - 00:01:47]

It depends where you are. You know, there are people still on what you term legacy platforms. Yes. Of the old monoliths of the IBMs, the SAP Hybris, ATG Oracle, where it did try to do everything under one roof. Those are being decomposed, decoupled, and so some people are replacing everything. Or some people are just saying, I will put a new content solution over the top of this and then make a decision after that. So both is happening. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:01:48 - 00:01:57]

Deepak, what's your view? Do you describe Shopline as a platform? Do you describe it as an ecosystem? How do you refer to yourselves as? 

Deepak Anand [00:01:57 - 00:02:35]

It's a very interesting question because platform used to be a community, then it moved to an ecosystem, and now I think platform should be a partnership, right, because ecosystem means that you are adding more debt into your portfolio, community means that the platform is not ready, and partnership means that they are making sure that you have a successful partnership so that they can have a piece of your success, and if you fail, they should also be suffering, right, so I think it's more becoming a partnership side rather than an ecosystem or a community side. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:02:35 - 00:03:09]

I think it's interesting you mention that because obviously with the advent of cloud software as a service solutions, the model had gone to being far more what you would argue is success based, revenue based than anything else, which is a natural driver to creating a partnership because you do get that shared success and therefore the software has as much interest in your success as it has in making a sale to you in the first instance. So it's gone from a large capital cost outlay at the beginning of the project or the beginning of the relationship to being one where effectively it's a variable cost of sale because it's a subscription. Yeah. But you probably don't own the IP any longer, so you don't have the capital build-up from that. Not going to get involved in accounting terminology now, but it took a long time to gain traction purely for that reason. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:03:34 - 00:03:42]

What do we think the world of platforms looks like right now? I mean, you know, Prosperity, we all have our view, but so Deepak, how do you view it? 

Deepak Anand [00:03:43 - 00:04:48]

Let's go into two decades ago, I mean, in terms of when you think about, right? So they actually wanted to own the full, they wanted to have the full control because they were differentiating themselves based on the technology, not on the base of the product, right? Fast forward to 2008-9, the move was happening about those people who built technology, then moving into a platform, which is like different type of platform, open source, and also SaaS. Fast forward now another decade, now it's becoming more commoditized, right? All the platforms can do what exactly what you need them to do, but it's move, and it's changing, it's ever evolving, right? I mean, it started as like you outsource the entire tech, moved into, let me build ourselves because I want to own the tech, then moved into, let's license it. And I think it's, again, we're going to change in the next five years. Do you think, I don't want to use the word AI, but do you think AI would be the next thing in platforms? 

Mark Pinkerton [00:04:48 - 00:05:04]

I can quite easily conceive that the world will move to self-optimising platforms, so actually a number of the classic e-com optimisation pieces is driven by an AI now, rather than being a human making a decision. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:05:03 - 00:05:45]

You have to see it. Picking up on your point there, Deepak, I think it is democratised, I prefer the word, rather than commoditised. I think that nearly all of the platforms now can do nearly everything you want in one way, shape, or form. At a base level. At a base level, absolutely. And then, how do you augment that? So, you don't have to invest one million pounds on a huge IBM implementation now to get some pretty good functionality. So, that's democratised, so you can start off on a Shopify, a Shopline, relatively cheaply, and have a huge amount of functionality that we've dreamt about for a million pounds 10 years ago. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:05:45 - 00:05:50]

Yes of course, and technology has always, the cost of tech in this world has always progressively come down with each new generation of products. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:05:54 - 00:06:09]

So there is now a large number of platforms coming in, technologies, take which word you want, coming into the market and the key challenge is what do you want to do, what do you want to achieve, how does it fit into what your business objectives are? 

Deepak Anand [00:06:10 - 00:06:31]

My biggest one, I had a laugh with one of my good friends yesterday. He was saying that there is a new e-commerce platform coming up, since they're built by retailers, right? And it was all about that it doesn't mean that it's been built by a retailer. It's gonna be a success, right? And he gave me an example of marriage. If somebody's happily married, doesn't mean that if you get married you'll be a happily married guy, right? 

But that's the thing, because if it's built by a retailer, or built for a retailer, it doesn't mean anything, right? Because the objectives are different for different reasons. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:06:45 - 00:07:00]

Exactly, you know, there are many ways of retailing as there are retailers on the high street almost, so just because it's built by a retailer, they've done it their way. Does it mean it fits with your way of doing it? No, not necessarily. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:06:56 - 00:07:44]

I think from from a consulting point of view you know clearly that just to sort of nail the three options you can outsource everything you can go to a partner who will do your wowsing and fulfillment and run all of your ecom for you and there are many brands particularly in the luxury world that effectively have done that and some of those have run into trouble but then you've got you know organizations like THG and Next who are now offering that as a service out into the marketplace and seemingly quite successful at doing that right now. You could then use an SI system integrator who will implement the technology for you and probably make quite a number of technology based decisions for you as a retailer so you need to select the right one and make that work versus doing it yourself and we have seen a number of people who have gone down the, and we're going to come on to it in a second, the headless microservices route where they have wanted to do it themselves because they have ambitions to be tech companies or have the technology as a core capability within the organization. Many of those have struggled is our view. 

Deepak Anand [00:08:01 - 00:08:03]


Jeremy Wilson [00:08:05 - 00:08:17]

with that view as well that if you're not a tech company you would have to ask yourself why am I building this technology for myself? Yes. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:08:15 - 00:08:51]

Yes. I mean if you're a pure play retailer, you may well think of yourself as a tech company. It's entirely possible and a number of them have, whereas actually what's happened is that over time the technology has become commoditised to a large extent. If you have a specific set of ways of wanting to do things, then the microservices will make a bit more sense. So we should probably come back to what we mean by that. In terms of the way that retailers can build a new system or build a new e-commerce capability, there are a number of different approaches. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:08:50 - 00:09:36]

There are. And you know, we mentioned earlier monolith. So looking at the market now, you would argue that Salesforce Commerce Cloud is a monolith because it offers enough of everything out of the box for you to be able to trade, as to a degree to Shopify, albeit with augmented apps to deliver what you want. So then you're moving into that other area of composable and headless. Headless is a term that's slightly redundant now to my mind, but it essentially means from the monolith world where it had its own content management solution, decoupling that to enable you to change the look and feel to a user to the world, independent of the rest of the world. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:09:36 - 00:09:44]

And that was really driven by the fact that the platform providers were not at the cutting edge in terms of seeing what's going on. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:09:43 - 00:10:01]

And there was a very tight linkage between the core platform, imagery content, promotions and the front end. That has now been technology evolved so that you can manage the two separately and enable it to be far more flexible at the front end to your consumer. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:10:02 - 00:10:08]

And it also then supports a more omni-channel approach to things. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:10:06 - 00:10:18]

Your ability to display content better on a mobile device, better on a laptop and even redeploy it into a store if necessary. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:10:17 - 00:10:20]

So Deepak, what do we mean by composable? 

Deepak Anand [00:10:21 - 00:10:49]

Yeah, I think it's very interesting because we call ourselves as a pre- integrated microservices, right, instead of composable, because we have all the parts in our platform as a separate component, right? But the reason I wanted to come back, Jeremy Wilson, to one question is that you called Shopify and Salesforce as a monolith, right? So you think the SaaS technologies also can be a monolith? 

Jeremy Wilson [00:10:49 - 00:12:09]

Oh, it can be a monolith because, you know, a number of people who call them rather derogatorily shop in a box because it will do everything you want out of the box. It won't have a great PIM, it won't have a great OMS, but it will do it. So it has monolithic in terms of does it offer everything under one roof to you? Yes. And the difference to the point you made, which I like the differentiator you made there, is that they are not that easy to disintegrate. And whereas with Shopline, to your point, it is microservices pre-linked that you can then decouple easily to add in a best of breed should that be what you want to deliver your need. And that's the differentiator between the monoliths where disintegration is difficult or can be difficult and challenging versus a composable world. And at one extreme, you've got Shopline, which is a pre- composed solution versus some of the other tool sets like Commerce Tools, which need everything around it in order to deliver a customer-facing solution. Yeah, Commerce Tools is not a shop in a box by any imagination. No, absolutely. So that's the sort of spectrum we're looking at. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:12:09 - 00:12:24]

But also now in the composable world, pretty much any app will talk to any platform. Allegedly. There are a lot of accelerators out there. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:12:19 - 00:12:24]

Allegedly. There are a lot of accelerations. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:12:24 - 00:12:30]

And then there are people like Patchworks and MuleSoft that will pull it all together. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:12:30 - 00:12:46]

This is where, possibly veering off the current track, you need to be careful because not all links are equal in this world and you need to be very careful to decide where you're going before you set off down the path. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:12:46 - 00:12:53]

We'll allow a retailer to understand that, all those challenges of which ones work and which ones don't work. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:12:53 - 00:12:58]

Due diligence, conversations, talking to the market, bringing, you know, bringing in a 

Deepak Anand [00:12:58 - 00:12:58]

Bring you. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:12:58 - 00:13:02]

Talking to a trusted advisor is not going to help. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:12:58 - 00:13:19]

third party. Talking to a trusted advisor. Talking to a trusted advisor because most businesses, you know, I think we had this conversation a little while ago, was how frequent do businesses replatform? You know, some of them very infrequently. There are still instances of WebSphere out there that haven't essentially been changed for over a decade. 

Deepak Anand [00:13:19 - 00:13:45]

Coming to your point, actually, Mark, in terms of the technology talk to each other, it depends. Because they all talk about, if you go out in the market, especially for the retailers, they need to understand, do they want to be a tech organisation or do they want to be a product organisation? That's actually, I think, still the question which they need to address themselves. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:13:45 - 00:14:00]

Certainly we have experienced that with clients, potential clients, who they don't understand that that is the core question that they're trying to answer because until you know that you can't actually make the right technology decision. 

Deepak Anand [00:14:00 - 00:14:43]

That's it. I mean, in case if you, and who is your customers, right? I mean, what exactly they're looking for? And do they still follow that? I mean, it's been going on for years, like hundreds plus years, it's 80-20 rule, like what exactly, when you talk about the composability, when you talk about the ecosystem, do they really need it? Because we started this question with all the platforms can do whatever you really need at the basic level, right? So I think you need to start with that basic and see and learn from the market rather than just assume that that might increase the conversion. So we work with, at Shopline, we work with a lot of kind of retailers and we do a focus group with their consumers, not with the customer, 

Jeremy Wilson [00:14:43 - 00:14:43]


Deepak Anand [00:14:43 - 00:15:19]

which is kind of, we are doing it within the style right now, is to have their 10 customers, like in the style customers, coming and playing with the app of Shopline app, playing with the website, and they are telling us and in the style that this has to be improved. And then we are, they are making a decision on the technology, instead of thinking this might increase. So they're, they're bringing, and that's actually, we're doing it within the style, we're doing it with a couple of other retailers. And that's actually this trend, I think they need to do, just ask their loyal customers if it's very difficult question. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:15:19 - 00:15:55]

No, absolutely. I think that, A, good for them, great call to make, but I think to your point, technology enables you to sell to your customer. You need to make sure that you decide what it is your customer wants, you ask your customer what they want, what they need, what's the market offering, and then you can build to support that. Now, it might be that you don't need to be world-class at a certain aspect because it's not important to your customer group, so don't invest as much in it. But other aspects of your proposition, you do need to be. You do need great impact. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:15:53 - 00:16:36]

Yeah, we're jumping further down in this conversation right now. Can we just quickly cover off the trends in the market in terms of what we're seeing? I think I've covered the first point off, which you've already mentioned, which is in terms of investment horizons. We've all been there in terms of the sort of e-com cycle at the very early stages of e-com, where people were changing platforms every three to four years, contracts were lasting two to three years and then you would change more often than renew, because technology was advancing all the time. Now you've got a slightly more, well, a lot more mature market and people are changing what, every six, seven, eight years? Yeah. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:16:36 - 00:17:12]

Yeah, I mean most contracts are a three-year contract that you sign up for. A lot of people renew at two for another three, so you're looking at this five to seven year time horizon primarily, and you then have to ask yourself, is what is out there significantly different to what I have to warrant a change, because there is still a cost both internal and external of implementing a new platform. Disruption is still there no matter what you do about it. So investment horizons are looking at that. 

Deepak Anand [00:17:12 - 00:17:37]

This is a very important, I think you actually Mark mentioned about we are a mature market are we really in terms of the consumer side and I because I work for a national technology company right and I think Asia market is more mature in terms of the consumer trends than are here I mean in the Western world I think 

Mark Pinkerton [00:17:37 - 00:17:40]

I think they're going to have a slightly different path, I'm not sure. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:17:38 - 00:17:52]

I wouldn't call it mature, I'd call it different. I would say there's a far more mobile, hand-held, social first. Whether that's more mature or not I would argue, but there is a very different... 

Mark Pinkerton [00:17:52 - 00:17:56]

They haven't gone through the desktop with fixed integration, you know, fixed networks and all that. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:17:52 - 00:18:01]

They haven't gone through the desktop. But at the same time, to pick up on your point, it is a sector that is growing in increasing 

Mark Pinkerton [00:17:56 - 00:17:58]

But at the same time, they don't pick up on your point. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:18:01 - 00:18:04]

importance within the markets we're looking at, I absolutely agree with you. 

Deepak Anand [00:18:04 - 00:18:21]

I think the way we are seeing the trend, especially with the retailers we are talking to, is that the social element is becoming more and more, because they realise that the new customers would not come from their old marketplaces, right? No, I absolutely agree with that. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:18:20 - 00:18:22]

No, I... 

Deepak Anand [00:18:21 - 00:19:03]

eBay and Amazon, amazing marketplaces to get you started, but the new customers are following the influencers. Our new customers are in TikTok or Instagram and Facebook and all. Snapchat. But also, that's actually very, very important for, is that... is that important for the retailer? And I think that we are seeing that trend happening more and more and we are getting invited for that reason because most of our brands, most of the brands are looking to launch in Asia and we are there, but what they want to see is that can they bring that trend back into the UK because they are thinking about the next 10 years, not the next 12 months, right? Yeah, that makes sense. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:19:02 - 00:19:26]

I'm doing a project for a large multinational brand at the moment and the amount of money spent on what you call old-fashioned broadcast media has just dropped hugely and the amount going into social, to influences, is increasing rapidly. Purely because they want that connection. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:19:26 - 00:19:45]

And then I think the other trend in the market that we're seeing, and I just would like to ask whether or not you're seeing it as well, is around this whole constant iteration piece. So I think it's now the norm to constantly iterate. Absolutely. Yeah. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:19:45 - 00:19:58]

Which is going back to separate content management solution, it gives you that ability to constantly iterate without having to go back to the mothership of a monolith the whole time. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:19:56 - 00:20:19]

So on that basis then, why should retailers not stick or what are the drivers of change? So why should they not stick with what they have? If they've got a relatively mature platform with this constant iteration happening, what's actually driving people to change right now? 

Deepak Anand [00:20:17 - 00:21:08]

Yeah, I'll start based on my experience over the last 10 years in e-commerce platform space. And whenever I leave one, I just say I'm not going to go back to e-commerce platform, but I do. But then I realized the opportunities keep on increasing in platform space because it's reduced complexity. Like really now the retailers are thinking, I am in a business of selling, I'm not in a business of managing technology, right? From a different stakeholder perspective, like the CFO just wants to understand percentage per transaction I'm paying to this, which is success-based model. But now with the increased the number of apps every single retailer has, the CFO is just pulling their hairs and just say how much money I'm paying per transaction, they don't even know that, right? So I think they want to simplify. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:21:09 - 00:21:18]

So it's about not just simplifying the technology, it's about simplifying the number of relationships they have and simplifying their process understanding. Absolutely. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:21:18 - 00:21:50]

Yeah, I mean, I would also add something to that, it's where am I experiencing pain at the moment? What is the pain that this is causing my team? To your point about constant iteration that we talked about, if I'm not able to do that, where is that pain coming from? Is it my core platform? Is it my CRM? Is it my CMS? Can I change one aspect of what I've got in order to improve it and give me what I'm looking for? Do I have to throw everything out to deliver that? 

Mark Pinkerton [00:21:50 - 00:21:54]

No, you don't have to throw it anyway, particularly in a compulsive world. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:21:52 - 00:22:19]

No, no you don't, exactly. So, going back to the point, you know, what's causing my pain? Yeah. You know, is my pain the fact that I cannot produce images correctly? Well, that's not an econ problem. Look at your DAM, look at other PIM solutions and then you can look at it. So, I think you need to understand where you want to be, what's causing your pain and, you know, if I'm multiplying relationships, are they adding value or are they adding cost? 

Mark Pinkerton [00:22:20 - 00:22:27]

Okay, that all sounds very sensible to me, and at that point we're going to take a break. 

Deepak Anand [00:22:27 - 00:22:29]

Maybe we should... 

Mark Pinkerton [00:22:27 - 00:23:19]

Maybe we should take a break here for a message from our sponsor, SWEFT, retail's leading solution for product workflow automation. SWEFT is designed to replace the in-house tools and spreadsheets retailers use to manage product workflow by bringing buying, planning, marketing, studio, and e-commerce teams together on a single powerful platform. To launch products faster and more efficiently, find out more at And welcome back. So, in terms of having an econ project, before starting on a re-platforming process, what are the key considerations, Jeremy Wilson? 

Jeremy Wilson [00:23:19 - 00:24:00]

Before the break, I mentioned what's causing you the pain, and I think the key consideration is what's causing the pain, where do I want to be, what's my business ambition, what's happening in the market that I'm in, what's happening in other markets that might influence that Deepak was talking about, the Far Eastern markets being very different, and you have to look at yourself within that wider universe and then say, how do I want to sell and exploit that market? Does my current technology enable me to do that? Does changing one part of it enable me to do that? Or do I need to change two or three parts in a series of steps to get there? And how does that fit into the business? 

Mark Pinkerton [00:24:00 - 00:24:38]

I think that's really important. I mean, we've been working with a PurePlay retailer where they were considering outsourcing all of the technology side, all of the e-com side, and I think our view was that that should be a core capability for them. So we were actually quite shocked that they were asking us to consider outsourcing everything in the first place. Outsourcing warehousing, yes, that's not a core competency, but actually the technology and the merchandising and everything in a PurePlay fashion house is pretty core. It's who you are. But it depends on the business. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:24:34 - 00:24:50]

But it depends on the business, obviously. I would agree with you because I personally think you'd be selling the family silver if you went down that route. This should never be done in isolation without involving the whole business, at least at the C-suite level, as to what it is you're doing and why you're doing it. 

Deepak Anand [00:24:52 - 00:26:25]

I agree. I mean, in terms of what you just mentioned before the break, it's all about understanding the pain, right? That's very, very important, because you really do not have to change an e-commerce platform, as you just mentioned at the start. Every e-commerce platform can do what exactly you want them to do. It's just to understanding what are the elements, what are the things that are causing that pain for them to even make a decision. And if that can be fixed with a certain different app or something else, you can try that. But I think the key here is all about the matrix. You need to think about where do you want to take the business in the next five years, right? And if the cost is a massive consideration, right? Or is that the launching a new market is a consideration or the tech stack is being more monolithic as a consideration. So I think when you're making that consideration, you really have to think about why it's very, very important. Why do you want to do that? It's like, what is the goal for next five years? I think the short term goal should be like now the time have gone that you spent 18 months in doing re-platform, right? You should do it in six months maximum, we always say to the merchant. If you're doing an e-commerce project for 18 months, you're already behind, right? So you really need to think about what is your long term goal? What is the strategic vision and I think Jeremy Wilson, you're absolutely involved stakeholders, because the way the project has failed is people don't talk to each other in the organisation and then they realise that they're launching a new product. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:26:24 - 00:26:28]

And then the conflicts emerge too late and it throws the whole project out the window. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:26:26 - 00:26:48]

I'm Jeremy Wilson Pinkerton. That's what throws things out, because if you're building in a vacuum, you don't know who you're building for, what you're building for. And all too often we've heard the, oh, it wasn't designed to do that, why is your user using it that way? Which I'll go back to Deepak's point, I think it's great that his client is actually involving the consumer in the development. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:26:48 - 00:26:50]

Yeah, I think that's probably the right thing to do. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:26:48 - 00:26:58]

I think that that really should be something to be replicated, because it actually starts telling you what you need to do for your customer. They're the ones who pay your galleries at the end of the day. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:26:57 - 00:27:19]

I do think there is a challenge in the market right now in that things are so much in flux and we've just been talking earlier about various retailers having gone into administration in the last week, but in that environment how can you have a meaningful five year plan because everything is up in the air right now. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:27:20 - 00:27:22]

But you need an ambition, you need a vision. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:27:21 - 00:27:23]

I need a vision. I know, I'm trying to be challenging here. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:27:22 - 00:28:04]

I know, I'm trying to be challenging here. I agree, it's difficult, you know. No plan survives first contact with reality, we know that. But you have to be flexible, but you need to have a direction of travel. And it's, what do I want to be famous for? Do I want to be a tech company? Do I want to be a high quality retailer selling to this market? I read a review of Oliver Bonash recently. My personal view is, everything you want and nothing you need. Yes. But, it is incredibly successful because it focuses incredibly tightly on a customer segment, what they want, what they need, and how to get it to them. Yeah. So, you'd look at... And the location strategy for retail shops as well. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:28:02 - 00:28:05]

And the location strategy for the later shots works well as well. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:28:04 - 00:28:20]

And everything flows from that. And they're incredibly successful, and hats off to them for doing that. But you could argue, it shouldn't be successful because it's trying to spread itself across too many areas. But it is, because it's focused on what those people want and how they want it. I think that's good. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:28:19 - 00:28:23]

And it has a good understanding of its customers and therefore it can put that into play. 

Deepak Anand [00:28:22 - 00:28:53]

I think this is why, I mean, I'm not coming back to like the shop line or In The Style or a couple of other projects, is that I think some of the retailers have nailed it, I mean especially the influencer retailers, that they are bringing those, they're doing the focus group with their end consumers to understand that what they're planning to build is right for their end consumer, or is it, they assume that it would be the right for end consumers. So how many retailers generally do that? I mean, you have more experience. I've not seen a lot of retailers. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:28:52 - 00:28:54]

Lot of features. Not very many. 

Deepak Anand [00:28:53 - 00:29:01]

Not very many. Not very many. Not enough. They should, right? I mean, everyone has their top customers and they can bring them in for a day. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:29:00 - 00:29:08]

And they have, in many cases, the retailers have access to fantastic data sets about their customers that they completely fail to... 

Deepak Anand [00:29:07 - 00:29:35]

They actually use technologies, I think what I've seen again, they use technologies like content square just to understand their consumer but they'll not pick up the phone and call a consumer to say what really went wrong. They actually go through all the reviews and system but they're not going to send an email, the CEO of the retailer will not send an email to say what really went wrong and we want to fix it, why don't you come to the office and help sit down with our tech team. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:29:33 - 00:29:36]

And that's what we've done with our tech team. No, because... It's undervalued. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:29:35 - 00:29:37]

Yeah, hugely undervalued, I agree with you. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:29:37 - 00:29:40]

It takes time and energy and at a CEO level that's... 

Deepak Anand [00:29:40 - 00:29:42]

No, I'm just, I'm just giving an example of the... 

Mark Pinkerton [00:29:41 - 00:29:43]

You get exactly what I'm saying. 

Deepak Anand [00:29:42 - 00:29:44]

No, no, no, no, it's valid. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:29:43 - 00:29:55]

It's a valid point, because how many times have you heard, oh it's not designed to be used like that? Well, it's out in the wild now, that's how your customers are using it, how do you react to that? 

Mark Pinkerton [00:29:56 - 00:30:06]

So I want to move on, because I'm conscious of time. What's the best way to build a plan that's more likely to lead to success than not? Because no plan is... 

Jeremy Wilson [00:30:06 - 00:31:01]

Guaranteed. Involve multiple stakeholders within the business, because, you know, as I said, if you're trying to do a pure technology re-platform in and of itself on its own, it's going to fail. You might have been given a budget, you've got X to spend over Y period, go do it. Great. Are you building what the business needs or your marketing team needs or your product team needs? Involve them and help understand what the real business needs are. Talk to your customers to the point we've been talking about before. Actually involve a third party who's more experienced in doing this than you are, because there's lots of little gaps that you might not think of at the time, because, go back to the point, this happens once every seven years or so. Speak to somebody who's been involved, involve somebody who can help facilitate, because actually it's often easier for middle management to talk to a third party than it is to talk up to senior management. Yeah. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:31:00 - 00:31:14]

From my personal perspective I would argue that that needs to be an independent trusted advisor rather than one that is from an SI or from a platform provider. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:31:01 - 00:31:02]

And I... 

Deepak Anand [00:31:07 - 00:31:34]

We'll be right back. So generally, what we recommend is to have a third party, like a third consultant, because there are so many unarticulated needs, because SI will not be able to understand their business because they are there too. tech focus. Tech focus, right. They take the discovery and they build what exactly is in 

Jeremy Wilson [00:31:30 - 00:31:31]

It's tech-focused. Right? 

Deepak Anand [00:31:34 - 00:31:54]

discovery. But what about the unarticulated needs of the of the consumers, of the merchant, which I think the consultants can help, the third party consultant, not within the organization, can come in there and can support them. And this is where we've seen a lot of successes in my last 15, 20 years of career is that when they have a third party, it always helps. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:31:55 - 00:32:04]

I would argue that that also helps in terms of, A, if you choose the right third party 

Deepak Anand [00:31:56 - 00:31:56]

I would argue 

Mark Pinkerton [00:32:04 - 00:32:27]

then they will have been through 20, 30, 40 different re-platforming projects over the years like some of us have, probably many more in Jeremy Wilson's case, but you've also got the fact that they are neutral in terms of the platform, so they should genuinely be able to give the retailer best advice. 

Deepak Anand [00:32:26 - 00:32:35]

And I think the other one is that have a goal in mind, like what do you really want to do? Because if building a plan starts with that, what is the vision? Yeah. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:32:34 - 00:32:36]

What do I want to be famous for? 

Deepak Anand [00:32:35 - 00:32:37]

What do I want to be famous for? Yeah. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:32:37 - 00:32:53]

I'd also like to bring up the question of what you need to understand about the vendor when you're looking at them. So if, say, Shopline was in for consideration versus Shopify or somebody else, then what are the things that you would look at? Go back to what we were just saying. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:32:53 - 00:33:00]

where do I want to be, is my ambition to be content-rich, content-led? 

Mark Pinkerton [00:33:00 - 00:33:03]

Assuming you understand all that. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:33:00 - 00:33:15]

Yeah, assuming you understand all that. Yeah, but how does it fit into that? That's the next part of it. You cannot, I go back a few years ago, the question I was always asked, two questions, what's a great conversion rate, what's the best platform? The answer to all of these, it depends. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:33:15 - 00:33:18]

Well, conversion rate's not the right metric, but that's another matter. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:33:18 - 00:33:26]

But how does this platform fit into my business, my business scale, my business 

Mark Pinkerton [00:33:18 - 00:33:20]

I know, but it was a question that we got denied. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:33:26 - 00:33:41]

ambition, my sector? You know, for example, always used to be a challenge style, colour, size matrix and get a product in there. Yeah, and the definition of what it is. How it is. Now some platform, I don't think such an issue now in 

Mark Pinkerton [00:33:36 - 00:33:38]

What it is, yeah. How it is. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:33:41 - 00:34:25]

many platforms, but it used to be a huge issue that some platforms, particularly Salesforce back in the early days, couldn't cope with that. You had to plug it together. Those are the thoughts you need. Volume. How's it got the volumetric capability to take, do I take a thousand transaction a day, do I take ten thousand, do I take ten? You know, go back again a long time when Kiddy Care was sold because they implemented their own web server platform. Great, we're buying this, but we're a supermarket. And all of a sudden you've got a basket of four items that had to be a basket of 80 items. The whole configuration was different. Nothing wrong with the platform, but the configuration didn't work because you would do a different type of thing. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:34:24 - 00:34:31]

The other thing I think it's important to ask in that process is to try and understand the vendor roadmap. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:34:25 - 00:34:33]

We'll be right back. Yeah, because we're on a road map. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:34:31 - 00:34:48]

So when we have been working with retailers, we always ask the vendor that's under consideration, what is the roadmap, what are you planning on bringing to the party over the next two years. You probably can't go much further out than that because it varies too much. 

Deepak Anand [00:34:47 - 00:35:05]

I think why, because obviously I don't want to talk about my experience, vendor roadmap is important. You need to understand that what they have presented two years ago and how many of that roadmap has been implemented in the last two years. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:35:03 - 00:35:11]

Oh yes, past performance is an indicator of future performance, but when you go and have 

Jeremy Wilson [00:35:05 - 00:35:09]

Past performance is an indicator of future performance. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:35:11 - 00:35:21]

serious conversations with a vendor or an outsourcer and they cannot provide you with a roadmap even though you have asked for it seven or eight times, it kind of throws a red flag up. 

Deepak Anand [00:35:21 - 00:35:32]

It does, but the reason is that because roadmap, because I've been involved in like, is that past performance is critical, right? Speaking to the existing customers on delivering 

Mark Pinkerton [00:35:30 - 00:35:32]

Oh, exactly. 

Deepak Anand [00:35:32 - 00:35:35]

on that roadmap is very, very important, right? Yeah. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:35:34 - 00:35:35]

I'll do this. 

Deepak Anand [00:35:35 - 00:35:37]

Because as I said, I mean, Jeremy Wilson, 

Mark Pinkerton [00:35:35 - 00:35:36]

And I'll say... 

Deepak Anand [00:35:37 - 00:36:29]

you mentioned about that event. I think, again, I'm going back to the first topic is like, is it platform ecosystem or a platform partnership, right? You really need to think about that thing very carefully now in the next five years, because you cannot pick up the phone to any SaaS vendor right now and get their attention. If you are a retailer, you just say, oh, you go through USI, you go through this AI tool, chat GBT tool and all this type of thing. Do you, can they define the roadmap based on segments like fashion, what exactly they're building? They're defining the roadmap based on the entire thing, what they're thinking about, but not on vertical specific, right? So I think there's a lot of things when you, roadmap is a very, I mean, Sorry to say, because we have 1,800 plus developers, we take that word very seriously, because what we are defining, the roadmap, is it by vertical, is it by segments, or is it by channel? 

Mark Pinkerton [00:36:29 - 00:36:46]

I think in the hypothetical scenario we're putting forward, it would be against all of those things. So it would be, you know, the relevant sector for the retailer that you're working with, and size and scale and complexity of their business model. Yeah. 

Deepak Anand [00:36:46 - 00:36:49]

Tick in the box, yes they've got it. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:36:46 - 00:36:51]

Take a look. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:36:46 - 00:36:52]

Tick in the box, yes, they've got a roadmap. Another tick in the box, the delivered things they've said will be on the roadmap. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:36:52 - 00:36:56]

And nothing worked better than talking to existing customers. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:36:56 - 00:36:56]


Jeremy Wilson [00:36:56 - 00:36:58]

No. And saying you would always do that. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:36:58 - 00:37:05]

In terms of control and risks of a replatforming project, how do we avoid failure? 

Jeremy Wilson [00:37:09 - 00:37:36]

Critical word, plan. If you do not have a plan, you will not succeed. And your plan needs to involve the whole business, at least at the C-suite level, to make them aware of what the objective is, what you're trying to do, etc. Fail to plan, plan to fail. I know it's a horrible truism, but where are you going to? What is it you're looking to achieve? Go back to what's your strategy, what's your strategic vision? If you're not building for that, what are you building for? Why are you doing it? 

Mark Pinkerton [00:37:35 - 00:37:47]

you doing it? And I would argue I would agree with that and I would argue that you should be doing that whether actually your delivery mechanism is agile or 100% waterfall. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:37:43 - 00:37:51]

Oh, 100% Waterfall. 100% because Angola Waterfall is just a different way of getting to that objective. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:37:51 - 00:37:59]

Yes, I mean something like 70% of the projects that we're all likely to work on are going to be Agile these days. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:37:52 - 00:37:54]


Mark Pinkerton [00:37:59 - 00:38:06]

However, where we have seen Agile struggle is where you don't have that combined vision of what you're trying to get. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:37:59 - 00:38:00]


Mark Pinkerton [00:38:06 - 00:38:31]

Agile assumes that everybody working in the programme has an understanding of the aims and goals and objectives. If you're not open and transparent as an organisation and therefore somebody in Scrum Team 63 doesn't understand when they're working on Search that actually this is the bigger environment, they will make the wrong decisions. 

Deepak Anand [00:38:15 - 00:38:49]

Yep, that's gonna die. Also, I think, is it MVP, MLP, most minimum lovable product? What do you really want to get to? And also, I think, clear priorities. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:38:49 - 00:39:04]

I think that's a really good point. Don't be too ambitious up front about what you're trying to build, but don't build something that isn't going to be engaging to your consumer group just because it functionally works. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:39:03 - 00:39:27]

So you're drawing the definition, just to sort of summarise that, between minimum viable product which is normally a technology-driven event and capability of does it add things to the basket and does it work, technically, versus a minimum lovable product which is It's doing those things in a way that works for the consumer. 

Deepak Anand [00:39:27 - 00:39:59]

Absolutely, and also I think it's, I gave another example of one of the, how you can manage your risk is basically building, not building a house, renovating a house, right? Either you can just outsource to the builder and think, one day you can walk into the house and it will be all beautiful, or you can have a project management team from external, so that you can give you the update on a regular basis, completely outside, external stakeholders coming in and just watching how the builders are doing. It's going to cost a little bit extra, but you know you have a piece of mind and you're getting that. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:39:55 - 00:39:57]

It's got to cost a little bit extra. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:39:59 - 00:40:04]

And that's a really good point. A client would say, why do I need a project manager? The SI 

Deepak Anand [00:40:03 - 00:40:04]

Thank you. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:40:04 - 00:40:17]

has a project manager. Their role is for their delivery, your project manager's role is to make sure they deliver what you want in the time frame you want, in the way that you want it. So you need government... 

Mark Pinkerton [00:40:17 - 00:40:21]

Your internal resources are aligned with doing the bits that they need to do. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:40:20 - 00:40:33]

You have the internal resources, you have that governance and that you have programmed direction to make sure that the direction of travel is where you want it to go to, rather than disappearing off. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:40:32 - 00:40:43]

And I would also increasingly say that it's also about risk mitigation, identifying the risks and finding ways to mitigate those risks, which are very often ignored. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:40:38 - 00:40:41]

There are ways to mitigate those risks, which are very often... 

Mark Pinkerton [00:40:43 - 00:41:02]

Hopefully our retail listeners' projects are not going to do that. If there's one piece of advice that you would pass on to our listeners around replatforming A. Do you need to? and B. The best way to do it. What would be your one piece of advice Jeremy Wilson? 

Jeremy Wilson [00:41:04 - 00:41:15]

Plan. Where's my pain? What am I trying to achieve? What's out there? What do I need? Involve the stakeholders and plan around that. Critical. 

Deepak Anand [00:41:15 - 00:41:29]

Two C's, communicate and collaborate, that's most important, right? Same thing, you need to communicate that why you need to do this with your internal stakeholder. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:41:27 - 00:41:28]

We'll be right back. 

Deepak Anand [00:41:29 - 00:41:57]

I completely, 100% agree on that one. And collaborate, make sure that most of the key stakeholders collaborate with an SI or do you have a partnership with a tech platform vendor? That's very, very important because if you think that I have seen most of the retailers do all the due diligence on a platform, not on all the apps they install, right? Like there are two people sitting in Romania building an app and there are 10,000 reviews, 

Mark Pinkerton [00:41:54 - 00:41:55]

Like now two people sitting in... 

Deepak Anand [00:41:57 - 00:42:26]

everyone sees it's going to work. Something happens, the website goes down, right? And I've seen that happen as well. So many times, so they actually do due diligence just on technologies and then do not get too excited about the new terminologies. 2010 was omnichannel, 2013 was multichannel, 2017 was social channel, now it's Mac, composable, headless. Just see what you really want to do and on the basis of that make the decision. Collaborate and communicate, clearly. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:42:27 - 00:42:30]

Okay and I would add from what you've just said, ignore the buzzwords of the day. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:42:31 - 00:42:33]

Let's go. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:42:32 - 00:42:36]

Yeah. And try and take an impartial view, get the support. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:42:37 - 00:42:40]

Having a third party founding board, it can be... 

Mark Pinkerton [00:42:37 - 00:42:51]

Thank you for joining us. Yeah, it doesn't need to be somebody managing the entire project for you, it's just get the sounding board and leverage their experience. Yeah, so I'll give you an example again. 

Deepak Anand [00:42:49 - 00:43:12]

So, I'll give you an example again, that as you're about to do your renovation or refurbishment, what's going to happen is that you're going to order the skips, you're going to order the builders, and what's going to happen is that the builders, instead of buying a good plasterboard or a soundproof plasterboard, save five pounds to get a cheaper one so that he can make a lot more money, right? 

Jeremy Wilson [00:43:10 - 00:43:12]

I've been there, done it. 

Deepak Anand [00:43:12 - 00:43:21]

Winner, don't know. You really need to make sure that even if it costs the external party a certain amount, you've got them. it's less than 10% of your budget. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:43:21 - 00:43:38]

I think it's really important, and I go back to the why have my own project manager when the client has a project manager, their job is to maximise their benefit, which is, is that good enough? My job is to maximise my benefit. What's in it for them, right? 

Deepak Anand [00:43:37 - 00:43:38]


Jeremy Wilson [00:43:38 - 00:43:43]

My benefit is having the high quality plasterboard, an insulating plasterboard of this specification, 

Deepak Anand [00:43:38 - 00:43:38]

My benefit. 

Jeremy Wilson [00:43:43 - 00:43:49]

that's what I was expecting on my costing, that's what I want, and it's a great analogy to have. 

Mark Pinkerton [00:43:49 - 00:43:58]

Brilliant, thank you. And on that happy note, we will say that's a wrap and we look forward to talking to you on the next one. 

Other similar Episodes in Season 2:

Episode 3 - Understanding headless and Compossable

Episode 2 - Strategy and Planning

Episode 6 - Optimising physical and Digital

Articles you may be interested in from Our Blog:

Why do many Headless/eCommerce strategic initiatives fail - 8 key reasons

Man vs. the Machine: The Future of AI in Retail and Digital Commerce

The Joys of replatforming