Schuh: developing a mobile-first mentality

The challenges of managing mobility in retail are well documented, so it’s always interesting to see how retailers are evolving their businesses to become mobile-first.

Ahead of his appearance at Mobile Shopping Europe 2017 in February, Retail Connections caught up with schuh’s Deputy Head of Ecommerce, Stuart McMillan on this very subject…

What do you see as the biggest challenge retailers are facing right now?

I think it’s hard to pin it down to just one challenge! But if I had to pick one, I’d have to say it is around acquisition, development and retention of digital talent. By and large, it isn’t tools that make a website better, it is people. The skillset required is diverse, and just because you use a lot of digital products and technology, doesn’t mean you know how to create and fix it. Ecommerce teams need statisticians, behavioural psychologists, project managers, business analysts, accountants, and much more. We need people who can tell stories with data, communicate clearly and persuasively. We need people with management and leadership skills. You can either hire them or develop them, neither are cheap options and neither should they be. We need to value people for the contribution they make; ecommerce shouldn’t be seen as the cheap option.

What do retailers need to do to reach a mobile-first mentality?

First of all, look at your device mix; where has it been over the past two years, where will it be in the next two years? For schuh, by the time we’re at the Mobile Shopping Europe at least two thirds of our traffic will be coming from mobile. If this doesn’t convince you to focus on mobile, record people using your mobile experience on 3G. How often do you shop your own mobile experience on 3G? Are you using the same handsets that are common with your customers? Practically speaking, one should also be looking at any new functionality on a mobile first, right from the first mock-up.

What is your biggest focus in your role for the coming 6 months? And for the coming year?

Same answer on both: team development on conversion rate optimisation. I want to help the team become digital leaders who will drive the business forward in even bigger increments than before. We’re going to develop much deeper understanding of our customer’s behaviour and their needs. We will eliminate whatever friction in the user journey we can, as well as motivate even more shoppers to buy with us.

What type of solutions will you most likely be looking for?

That depends on the problems we uncover. I think we should be spending 70% of our time identifying and really understanding the problem/opportunity and the rest of the time implementing and testing solutions. Every solution should be A/B tested to understand the incremental benefit. So, any solution needs to be able to be tested as a proof of concept, as easily as possible. It’s vital that we don’t start with a solution and then identify the problem.

Why did you decided to join Mobile Shopping?

I like the focused nature of Mobile Shopping; while the more general conferences are interesting, what I’m really looking for are actionable insights that I can take back to the office and discuss with the team. It’s not just the fact that the presentations are all around a single subject, it’s that all the delegates are stakeholders in mobile for their business, so all the conversations are at a different level.

What are you hoping to get out of Mobile Shopping? Who would you like to meet in terms of solution providers or other retailers?

I’m always interested to talk to other retailers, it’s great to hear about their challenges and how they have found innovative solutions. The likes of Tesco, B&Q, Otto Group, Boots, Argos and other big players (apologies to those I don’t mention directly!) are such big informers of customer expectation. I’m really looking forward to coming back to the event and catching up with industry friends and colleagues.

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