How to manage 4500% growth with Daniel Wellington’s IT Director Daniel Näsman (episode 234)

Daniel Näsman is the Global head of IT Development at Daniel Wellington, a Swedish watch and luxury brand who were the fastest growing company in Europe in 2017, and have a 3 year growth of over 4500%.

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About the Business

  • Founded and headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden
  • Offices Globally
  • Sells to almost every country in the world
  • Core Product is the iconic Daniel watch and complimentary colorful, changeable bands
  • Uses Magento, but slowly developing custom solutions

Daniel’s Start in eCommerce

Daniel began working for a popular toy store eCommerce company in 1998. The company did very well for some time and had an initial growth spurt, but ran into trouble and ultimately didn’t survive.

Fast forward to 2011 when Daniel cut his teeth working for a sporting good startup called Nature. He describes it as the prototypical startup environment, in which everyone wore many hats. From helping in the warehouse to building the entire IT infrastructure, Daniel says they did it all.

When he joined Daniel Wellington in 2017, there were a lot of similarities. Daniel Wellington’s enormous and fast-paced growth has necessitated a lot of in house strategizing.  

The Product Story

The iconic Daniel watch was inspired during a backpacking adventure that the company’s founder, Phillip, undertook to Australia. While there, he crossed paths with a gentleman named Daniel Wellington who was sporting a Rolex held on by a brightly colored brand.

The combination was so striking that the company was born and simply named after the man who inspired it. 

eCommerce Platform

Daniel Wellington uses the Magento platform, but has developed completely custom front end solutions tailored for individual markets. Customer needs are different from market to market and the front end design needs to be tweaked to suit local tastes. As the company continues to grow, they are building  ‘out of’ the Magento platform by developing custom solutions that work better for them.

The brands IT department has over 200 employees on its roster and Daniel says that this powerhouse allows them to control their marketing channels more tightly. Buying an off the shelf system essentially forces you into someone else’s sales platform that may or may not fit with your specific customer base, among other things.

The reason the company has invested so heavily in IT is because they have had such enormous growth and because they sell in so many markets.

Growing Pains

In the early days, Daniel says that the company was playing catch up as they took off more quickly than anticipated. They reached saturation quite early and decided that if they wanted to continue to grow at pace, they would have to stop out-sourcing and bring everything in house.

Since then they’ve invested heavily in structural components like IT, but Daniel points out that the investment in staff and expansion has also been massive. In order to go global, the company has had to go local. Decentralizing the company and becoming local regionally is quite a complex undertaking.

Besides the systems, Daniel says that human relationships and company culture is an extremely difficult process to get right. The balance of keeping the company identity intact and sustaining extreme growth is struck by a nuanced use of systems. 

It’s All About the Customer

According to Daniel, the secret to the company’s success boils down to making sure every single person in the company cares about the customer. Daniel says that instilling that belief has made it easier for everyone to prioritize and for the company to function as a whole. 

When there have been problems that have come up, Daniel says it’s clear to see that they are typically far away from the customer and the customer experience. Another reason for their success is ensuring that people can easily connect across departments.

Rather than gumming everyone up in internal politics, the company has made it easy for employees to connect, meaning problems get solved more efficiently.

The Page Speed Puzzle

While page speed can quickly spiral into a pile of highly technical data sets, Daniel reframes the conversation by encouraging people to simply look at their marketing investment and then looking at drop off rates related to speed.

He and his team hypothesized that if they could get from a 20 second page load speed to a 5 second page load speed they would see value. And they did— 8% more value from marketing investments.

To get there, the team first went after the low hanging fruit that quickly cut their page load time in half. Today, they are down to a 2.5 seconds load time for their initial impression page, which has been a big success.

The two metrics that Daniel and his team use to measure success are the “Visual Complete” and “Time to Interaction”

  • Visual Complete- Time it takes a page to completely load—on 3G, the initial load for Daniel Wellington is 3.5 seconds
  • Time to Interaction – This is harder to measure since people interact differently, but on average, businesses should aim for about 3.5 seconds.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Influencer Marketing and Happy Customers—Micro influencers are generally cheaper than big influencers and have loyal followers. Happy customers refer more customers!

Tool Top Tip

  • Don’t mix up the different types of communication. Don’t use the same tool for formal and informal conversation.

Growth Top Tip

  • Make sure you can deliver — Before you try and get more business, make sure your channels are in good shape and that you can make the customers you do have happy.

Interview Links

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  • Christian Zeron of Theo and Harris explains how vlogging grew sales to $2.5million per year

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