4 questions for Mathieu Jourdain, head of e-commerce at Natalys
Since 1953, Natalys has provided for future and young parents from pregnancy to the third year of the child. The brand joined the Sergent Major group and launched its e-commerce website, Natalys.com, in 2009. The brand now embodies the example of a successful cross-channel strategy. From launching its marketplace to optimizing its product catalogue, Mathieu Jourdain, head of e-commerce at Natalys, shows us the keys that made this long-standing retailer a shining example of successful cross-channel retailer.
Natalys sells its products both in store and on the Natalys.com website. The entire catalog is available on the website and in store. The brand is even planning to launch a community website in the near future, dedicated to selling Natalys branded articles secondhand. This is innovation in action and a powerful driving force for fulfilling the needs of its customers, who are continually seeking more choice at the right price with a good quality of service, which the brand has been providing for almost 60 years now.
How important is product information management to you?
MJ: The quality of our product data is one of our primary concerns. It is crucial to have a standardized and centralized product database. We needed to have a collaborative and user-friendly system, that could be used and connected to every department: Purchasing, Logistics, photo shoots and web-merchandising. In other words, we needed a PIM (Product Information Management). It has even become an essential tool of our cross-channel strategy. What’s more, it did not take long for us to choose Akeneo, the leading open-source solution on the market. In addition to being easy to integrate and user-friendly, the solution was already being used by other brands of the group. The Akeneo PIM made it possible for us to standardize and control the quality of our product information.
Why launch a marketplace now? And why Mirakl?
MJ: The launch of our marketplace forms part of an overarching strategy, the objective of which is to innovate in order to fulfill the needs of our customers and boost our growth. Nowadays, in order to play a leading role in a given sector, one must be in a position to offer a broad choice to our ever more demanding customers. The marketplace provides a solution to the problem of catalog expansion, so that the Natalys teams can react to customer demands much more quickly. In our opinion, it is much less complicated and less risky to bring in a new supplier or a new category of products using the marketplace than listing it on our standard website. This strengthens our position as a specialist with a greater product depth, while also offering a long tail of related products that can appeal to our customers.
We chose Mirakl because it is the leading, most comprehensive solution on the market, giving us access to all the functionality needed to operate our marketplace quickly and successfully. Mirakl’s strength lies in the support provided by its teams throughout the project and after its launch.
In order to fulfill the expectations of Natalys’s customers, you decided to launch a marketplace grounded in robust management of product data. What are you expecting to gain from it?
MJ: Within 3 years, the Natalys marketplace will represent at least 30 % of our sales and will be completely cross-channel.
Natalys’s objective is to have all of the Natalys and Marketplace product data stored in a single database so that each department can modify and add to the data of the partner sellers. As a result, when our customers are browsing our website, there will be no noticeable difference between a product sold and shipped by Natalys, and that of a partner seller. Standardized data also helps to improve the user experience, ensuring a remarkable end-to-end shopping experience.
In addition to this, we have many objectives for further development with the aim of improving our growth. For instance, we are seeking to expand the Services and Young Creator aspects as well as the sale of secondhand products through the Natalys community. The international segment will also contribute to our growth, and the marketplace is a very powerful tool for growing a local presence.
“The common trait between Mirakl and Akeneo? Two flexible solutions that are easy to integrate! “
In your opinion, what are the key factors of success of your cross-channel strategy?
MJ: First off, we need to know how to drive change within our business. There will always be some internal resistance when innovative projects are put on the table. In our case, this change was put forward directly by management. The chairman and managing director as well as the brand manager played a significant role in developing the strategy and overall approach, which was instrumental in facilitating its deployment internally. The Marketplace project also helped breathe new life into our teams, both at headquarters and in stores. In this type of project, the need to tackle many “political” obstacles is always to be expected. The change is significant and operational conventions, which have been established over long periods of time, are being more or less broken. The cross-channel strategy must be supported by all teams at headquarters as well as in stores. To achieve this, all the stakeholders must be involved from the very beginning of the project and at every step, whether it is during the analysis phase regarding the choice of the system, or the integration phase and the decision on whether to favor a gradual deployment of the project or in big-bang mode.
Secondly, connectivity is essential within the framework of a cross-channel project. Today, it is better to opt for tried and tested technologies and specialists in their domain, who will help create connections with the entire ecosystem. Mirakl and Akeneo are two leading recognized solutions that have developed a common connector that can be used to integrate them easily. The decision to select these solutions was all the more obvious for us because of that.