My Ecommerce Hero is a series celebrating brilliance in ecommerce, in association with eCommerce-speakers.com, an initiative from Entropy‘s Alex Tait to encourage more female speakers at industry events.
Jane Smith is Digital Tech Lead, EMEA at GSK Consumer Healthcare. She previously held roles at EY and Accenture.
Who is your ecommerce hero?
Natalie Massenet, an early pioneer of ecommerce who founded luxury clothing online business Net-a-Porter in 2000 in her kitchen, completely disrupting fashion.
The internet was in it’s infancy in 2000, (dial up! MSN chat rooms! Ask Jeeves!) yet here was a woman who could see the potential when the big fashion houses wouldn’t come out of physical stores.
What has she done to win hero status in your eyes?
The clarity of her early vision. From the beginning the Net-a-Porter experience was a pleasure — the online shop has always had the format of a glossy magazine.
I remember reading an interview with Natalie and she recounted fighting with her board as she insisted clothes were delivered in beautiful boxes rather than plastic bags so that the luxury experience ran the course of the purchase. I feel like I’m fan-girling Natalie a bit hard now so I’ll stop!
How has their heroism helped drive ecommerce?
Do you buy luxury products online? Exactly
What are the biggest challenges in ecommerce we need another hero to solve?
Well everyone says data so I’ll say packaging.
Strides are being made by retailers to use less packaging and more environmentally-friendly materials but do a lot of products even need packaging?
Some of the big players like Amazon and L’Oreal are doing good things here and sustainable packaging startups are proliferating so I hope to this this continues.
What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in ecommerce?
Foundational stuff, getting good systems in place so there’s a strong backbone from which our people can run our ecommerce activities. Robust Product Experience Management systems and a thinkable framework for KPIs and reporting.
Is there a diversity problem in ecommerce and how can we best address it if so?
Diversity is always good — especially in something so deeply intertwined with human behaviour as ecommerce. Every transaction will touch on highly variable behavioural aspects; everyday communication, internet usage, marketing & advertising perception, trust et cetera.
Ecommerce could certainly be more diverse and taking the time to look for people who bring a different perspective is something we can all challenge ourselves to do.