On laredoute.io, we are used to write technical articles. And we love that. However, we are not only a tech company, but we are also leveraging new technologies to serve our ambition to become « the preferred lifestyle and family platform »1.
All our energy is focus on achieving this target which implies to build a digital platform, open and agile. That’s why we are working so hard and that’s what we would like to explain in this article : why and how we are building the new La Redoute.
Platform you said ?
« Platform »…this is maybe one of the most overused buzzwords at this time. Most of you already heard about it, some of you may understand what that means, anyway let’s state the obvious by defining what a Digital platform is.
“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.” Tom Goodwin
Building a Digital Platform is not building a website for your company or use SaaS accounting solution, this is just digitalizing some of your process.
It’s not an easy thing to define what a platform is, we can start with the basic assumption that this is « something » on which you can rely and create « something else » on top of it.
In the book « Platform strategy »2, the authors define it as: An organization creating economic value by attracting, creating relationship and connecting at least 2 tiers to let them executing transactions.
What does that mean to us ?
« Ideas are easy, implementation is hard » – Guy Kawasaki
La Redoute was a well know company as a B2C company that invented the concept of VPC (« Vente Par Correspondance », sorry for the French) with a traditional pipeline business model. A pipeline business model can be seen as a linear process from buying goods to selling it to customers.
Basically, our company was based on a global linear value chain that aims to acquire goods (inputs) and to transform/enrich/sell them to consumers (outputs).
That was an excellent model in a pre-internet era where internet, smartphones or cloud computing did not exist and where consumers expectations were not so high as it is today (you know ATAW term, right ?).
“In Today’s era of volatility, there is no other way but to re-invent. The only sustainable advantage you can have over others is agility, that’s it. Because nothing else is sustainable, everything else you create, somebody else will replicate.” — Jeff Bezos, Founder, Amazon
La Redoute understood soon enough that its way to operate should shift.
That’s why La Redoute started an ambitious and complex transformation to embrace a new business model based on the platform enterprise concept.
We started to open our website to external sellers becoming one of the very first retail marketplace in France. And we also started to publish our product catalog to different channels : social media, search engine, etc… and also on other marketplace such as Galeries Lafayette.
We can now see our business model like that:
With this picture you should understand that the La Redoute Platform aims to provide an augmented added value to our customers by leveraging different producer capacities but also by broadcasting our unique offering to different digital platform (we can see other marketplaces and social network as digital platform as such).
This platform should be handling any kind of producers and consumers as long as it is aligned with our lifestyle/family platform and that there should have no country/barrier limitations.
In 2020, 30% of our turnover was done outside of France and this is growing3. The term “Unified” means that we are not only creating a platform for our historical French market but also any clients in the world. Wherever our clients are, we want to provide them the same experience and same opportunity with a business flexibility that allows us to adapt our offers to the local context.
All that being said, it was obvious that the historic Information System designed for VPC in France could not support our transformation, we had to reinvent our IT with some strategic key pillars :
- Accelerate our product offer diffusion to a growing set of consumers
- Absorb heterogeneous channel of customer order acquisition
- Provide supply chain agility and elasticity
- Enable international growth and scalability
How we designed our Platform?
Becoming the preferred “lifestyle and family platform” is our vision to serve our client needs, that’s why the heart of our platform is the Customer. All the IT products we build should have this Customer-Centric mindset and should rely on the Customer platform as the Core-system of our global IT.
Then all interactions with this Customer are based on 4 main transactional objects and transversal process:
- Offer: This is what we propose to all inhabitants whether they are clients or not, on their preferred channel
- Order: It is the act of buying on production from our offer by a customer
- Sale: It represents all the financial transactions from payment to accounting
- Promise: This is our capacity to manage the right execution of our customer promises.
The 4 objects mentioned are the pillars of our Platform in which 5 sub-platforms implement all functions, processes, and workflows:
- Customer Platform: Give us a 360° view of our customer needs and habits
- Product Platform: Aims to manage our catalog and offers independently of the business model behind
- Digital Platform: The term “Digital” could be confusing as we are here talking about our internal front-end (website and apps)
- Finance Platform: This manages accounting, payment, B2B financial transfers,…
- Fulfillment Platform: Our internal capacity to execute the customer order and to follow our customer promises
All of them have strong principle guidelines :
- Interoperability: All processes and data should be exposed through comprehensive and reliable API
- Separations of concerns: High consistency and Low coupling between platform to ease the roadmap execution
I won’t detail much about these platforms to keep this article understandable for anyone, but if you’re interested to know more, we have some opened positions with exciting challenges and projects 😉
NB: I used icons from fontawesome and they are really…Awesome: https://fontawesome.com/