Kaubamaja, Estonia's largest and most prestigious department store and a member of IGDS, has published its quarterly fashion and beauty magazine since 2002. It's considered Estonia's top fashion magazine with over 55,000 copies sent out quarterly. The magazine is mailed to Kaubamaja's more active clients, and their estimated readership is 96,000, with 73% of the readers between the ages of 20-49. There are 630,000 Kaubamaja loyalty card 'Partnerkaart' members in Estonia (2015). Considering that Estonia's population is 1.3 million, that's quite a number!
In the Spring 2016 issue, Hooaeg dedicated 4 pages to the Kaubamaja eCommerce project. Read the online version of the magazine here (in Estonian). The below is the English translation of interview in the article with Brendan Peo, Vaimo's COO.
Vaimo delivers full-service eCommerce solutions on the Magento platform to brands, merchants and manufacturers globally. Vaimo is one of the top Magento solution partners in the world, and the only Magento Gold Solution Partner in Scandinavia and South Africa, with over 400 B2C and B2C eCommerce solutions launched successfully.We help globally well-known brands such as Jack Daniel's, Björn Borg, Agent Provocateur, Fjällräven, Triumph, Marimekko, HP, Gant, and BAUHAUS grow and expand their online business. We have an in-house team of over 200 specialists that hold over 100 Magento certifications, and 12 offices located in Sweden, UK, Finland, Norway, UAE, South Africa, Denmark, Estonia and Ukraine. Estonia was the 2nd country we entered, and we established an office here in 2010. Our Estonian Vaimo office now has 35 experts working in the centre of Tallinn next to Viru keskus. In Estonia, we have created online stores for widely-known brands like Selver, Klick, Polarn O. Pyret, and recently, also for Kaubamaja.
My main role at Vaimo is to help our group expand its global footprint and to grow the business. I am involved in the day-to-day general global operations management through sales, project management, and key account management and I get involved with key clients to advise them on improving their eCommerce strategy and business processes.
Your company has delivered a plethora of eCommerce solutions; has this particular project been a challenge for you as a developer? If so, how exactly?
I would not say challenging, but a few points that stood out to me that will make the project a memorable experience:
1. We had to do integrations with Kaubamaja’s well known and popular loyalty system and we made their Partnerkaart system the core aspect of interacting on the site as a logged-in customer.
2. Department stores usually have a wide variety of different types of products, ranging from clothing to make-up, and to have one site that caters elegantly for this wide product range needs careful planning and handling.
3. This is one of the projects where we had the opportunity to blend rich content and story-telling with commerce, since the focus of the site is not only to sell, but to inspire and engage with Kaubamaja’s customer base. Getting the balance between rich content, story-telling and selling right has been interesting throughout the project.
4. Clients sometimes underestimate the amount of dedication and effort it takes to implement and run a successful online store. However, Kaubamaja dedicated several resources throughout the project, which were laser-focused on the success of the project, and that is a great joy to see when clients do this right.
Was there anything special or different you had to keep in mind while working on the Kaubamaja project?
One thing we needed to keep in mind throughout the project in terms of planning and risk mitigation is the fact that Kaubamaja previously made a small part of their catalogue available online during certain campaign periods, but for the new store, they needed to work with thousands of products, pictures, and a broad range of content. All of these products, images and content is new, and it is a big task to get so much content ready in such a short space of time, so we needed to constantly keep this in mind by reminding stakeholders of the importance of this challenging task and to measure the progress. Another thing that we needed to consider was that Kaubamaja came from a strong, traditional waterfall project methodology, and most of the large IT projects have been managed based on more conventional methodologies, while Vaimo uses the Agile and Scrum based approach. We had to constantly consider the difference in approaches and we had try and balance the communication, reporting and transparency throughout the project to keep Kaubamaja’s project team happy, while still not changing too much of the processes that we are used to when delivering projects. The net effect was a high number of face-to-face meetings every week, which was a bit different from other projects, but in our opinion, also one of the key factors of success in this project.
What is the first question you ask a client who wants an eCommerce solution from you?
Why? It is important to understand the reason behind our potential client's project. Is this just an experiment or a pet project, or is this a key project that is strategically important for our client? The word Vaimo means "heart" in the native Sami language, and we see the heart as the core. That is where we like to work with clients, in areas at the core of their business.
Are you personally a fan of e-stores, as a customer?
Big time. My most recent purchase was a fitness and activity watch. After I spent a significant time online researching different options, I finally purchased a product online from a US-based store, and had it delivered to Estonia in less than 5 days. I fly about 100 - 150 times per year, so I buy tickets online every week. Selver launched their online grocery store in Estonia in Novermber 2015, and I am their biggest fan! I've been complaining for years over the fact that you can't order groceries online in Estonia, and cursed every weekend when I had to waste time going grocery shopping. Now, I am happy that we can order weekly a wide variety of products from Selver online store.