US retailer Tilly’s has aligned its e-commerce and marketing teams to focus on customer experience.
The company believes that, by having the two divisions under the one umbrella, it can reduce the time it takes to go live with digital products.
During a breakout session at Oracle’s user conference in San Francisco this week, Craig Demerit, chief operating officer (COO) and chief information officer (CIO) at Tilly's, said he felt for counterparts in other organisations who do not work closely with the chief marketing officer (CMO): “I can’t imagine how difficult it is to get things executed,” he said.
Speaking to Computer Weekly, he said that, historically, IT has been very project-focused at Tilly's.
“A lot of the time IT people tend to look at marketing people and speak different languages. The marketing individuals sometimes don’t have a full grasp of what it takes technologically to implement things,” he said.
Demerit also said it is difficult for a retailer to provide the right customer experience without understanding both marketing and IT. The focus should not be on the IT or marketing strategy, but the customer, he said.
Read more about the CMO and the CIO
“What I don’t have is a huge bureaucracy, that takes nine months to make a decision on whether we’re going to do something, we’re a 30-year-old company which was entrepreneurially founded and keeps that spirit, even as we become a half-a-billion dollar company,” he said.
“Taking those barriers away allows you to streamline that time process and the barriers that occur.”
Demerit said the company created a mobile application in under three months, which has had half a million downloads over the last 18 months.
“We were able to do that in three months, because we came to the table to answer those questions both technically and from a marketing perspective, all at the same time.”
This CMO-CIO disconnect can threaten the ability of companies to deliver effective customer experiences. Research from Accenture showed only 45% of CIOs say that supporting marketing is near or at the top of their list of priorities; while over 30% of CMOs believe IT keeps marketing out of the loop and does not make time and technical resources available.
Speaking at Oracle’s user conference in 2013, Tesco’s CMO Matt Atkinson agreed. The relationship between him and Mike McNamara has led to a rewarding multi-channel experience for customers shopping at Tesco, he said.
At the time, Atkinson said: “Mike is a technologist who speaks English. We have the same type of passion for customers, so we get on really well. And we spend a lot of time together, because we’re trying to re-engineer our business for the customer.”
“I trust Mike to do what he does and he trusts me to create things that customers want, need and enjoy using.”