How to Create a Long-Term Growth Strategy for a Global Brand, with Matthew Dean, SVP Global Ecommerce at Hugo Boss

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In the fast-moving world of marketing, it can be easy to get caught up in the details – weekly KPIs, monthly targets, quarterly goals, etc. When it comes to transforming a business model, it’s all about the long-term game. 

Hugo Boss is already a household name, stocked in stores all over the world, with a reputation for quality and style. We spoke to the Senior Vice President (SVP) of Global eCommerce at Hugo Boss, Matthew Dean on how their brand evolves by diversifying routes to market and building closer relationships with their customers.

The eCommerce combination

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Source: www.designscene.net

When I look back on my 25 years in eCommerce, success relies on the ability to combine Finance, Marketing, and Technology under the umbrella of customer experience

I’ve always been good with numbers and Excel, but for good financial analytics, you need recommendations. Data analysis is all about looking at trends to figure out the correlations between things.

When I worked at Dell Computers, they asked me to analyze costs between two laptop models. They gave me a week to do the work. I started doing market research and looking at other competitors selling the same machine. I looked at features, value, what they were charging, and the components shipped. 

Based on the customer behavior and market analysis, I was able to figure out which product would generate the most business revenue. When I discussed this with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) he said: “This is amazing. You work in Marketing now!” 

Evolving a global brand

Hugo Boss’s concept is to cover the full lifestyle as opposed to just being a suit outlet. We try not to follow too many short-term trends and instead focus on longer-term things.  

Originally, Hugo Boss was a company selling suits through wholesale and big department stores. 30 years later, they opened up their own stores. 10 years later, they started selling only through their eCommerce shop and affiliate sites. This is the part I run. 

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When I came in, with the resources they had, they were launching one new country and one new partner per year. This wasn’t going to quadruple the sales. We created a strategy to accelerate and use resources more effectively through cross-border businesses. It helped us scale to 63 countries where we have 50 partners today.  

In 2018, we were doing around 4% (100 Million euros per year) of the business through eCommerce. Our goal is to quadruple that number in four years and we’re well on track to getting there. 

Testing your way to success

Testing your assumptions is the quickest way to learn what customers really want. Interviews don’t always give you the information you need for planning. There are some decisions you can never come back from, such as discounts, so be mindful of the way you test.

There are two ways of testing. Firstly, A/B/N testing, where you try several versions of a copy, language, or pricing. Secondly, you can use control groups, where you exclude a group of people to compare it to a group you are experimenting with. 

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Source: www.designscene.net

However, test results are just data points. There are always external, local, cultural, and behavioral circumstances that will influence your results. What works well for me is documenting each test – what did we plan, what was the outcome, what did we learn? 

A simple example is a Buy it again, a small checkbox we added at the end of the shopping items. This single action re-ordered the item for the person, making the repeat purchase experience much simpler. 

Creating a vision for future success

You need to set your vision based on a 3 to 5-year time horizon and break that down into goals. Start with the future state you want to achieve and work backward to figure out the tactics. 

A lot of the goals you set need to be input goals you can actively affect, not things like revenue which are output goals that happen later as an after-effect of your work. So when we say we want to make X in sales, we translate that into input goals like partner activities, traffic increases, etc. 

We started by setting the goals and KPIs and building our dashboard to measure the key things we wanted to impact and optimize. It’s important to sync with the customer journey, their buying behaviors, and the way they buy products. 

Source: www.nylonthailand.com

We have 4 teams focused on the strategic areas for growth: 

Team 1: A centralized team focuses on A/B testing and optimization to increase retention and conversions by adding more content, different images, and a diverse look and feel. 

Team 2: A team focused on partnerships and growth in countries for market research and analysis. For example, if you were in Germany, where would you shop for clothes online? We find the key places and where we don’t have our webshop, we get a partner for local distribution. We started with the top 25 eCommerce countries in the world when we realized that other regional players could cover many regions. 

Team 3: A team that works on localization and the types of merchandise we want to sell in different markets.

Team 4: A team focused on concession partners to find the right allies to work with and negotiate the deals and logistics. 

We have the same backend developed across all countries. Any improvements we make on the backend get rolled out across our entire business. The key is to have owners for specific website customizations. 

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Source: www.augustman.com

Pushing your career forward

I love problem-solving. It’s what I’ve always been interested in. I enjoy the satisfaction of solving something that others struggle to figure out. That’s also why I always look ahead thinking of long-term growth, scale, and vision. 

If you think of yourself through the lens of your education, instead of what your skills mean for the employer, you will limit yourself. Think of the value you deliver and what you are giving to a business and decide on that for your career. 

Matthew Dean, SVP Global Ecommerce at Hugo Boss

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