Main Takeaways:

  • In the final episode of this season of Step by Step, Brian and Phillip are joined by Dan Nephew, the Director of System Operations at Lovepop.
  • Lovepop offers robust customization options for its products and needs a rich tech stack to manage the fulfillment of such unique orders.
  • How can you best use data to inform your business decisions and what technology can aid in your decision making?
  • There is no single, silver-bullet application that will handle all your tech requirements, so invest in applications that are flexible and can grow along with your business.

What is Lovepop?: A Quick Introduction:

  • Lovepop started about five years ago with a mission of creating one billion magical moments.
  • These magical moments are achieved through a laser-cut version of kirigami, an art form that was discovered by Artpop founders Wombi Rose and John Wise on a Harvard Business School trip to Vietnam.
  • Every month, Lovepop comes out with new designs and new products.
  • Dan started at Lovepop as a consultant, and he fell in love with the company and joined full time about a year ago.
  • Before Lovepop, Dan was an industrial engineer for big companies, and his expertise was helping a business scale without scaling the size of the business.

The Current Lovepop Sales Strategy: A Glimpse Behind the Curtain:

  • Lovepop started with a small retail venture, quickly turned to online sales, and now online is by far the most significant segment of what Lovepop sells.
  • There are very few players in the industry that can do what Lovepop can do when it comes to personalized creations that are designed online.
  • There is a growing retail footprint that started in the North East, and Lovepop even has a licensing deal with Disney.
  • Lovepop is now starting to figure out how to spread magical moments amongst other providers through strategic partnerships that will carry their same message.

Creating Magical Moments: The Lovepop Tech Stack:

  • On the frontend, Lovepop uses Shopify as its eCommerce platform, but it does not provide all of the customizations that Lovepop needs.
  • Once the customer places the order, the data is sent to Brightpearl, Lovepop's inventory and order management system.
  • Lovepop has several different fulfillment options depending on the order, and Lovepop can turn an order around in less than a day.
  • All of the product that is sourced by Lovepop is sourced from an owned subsidiary in Vietnam.
  • Lovepop's design team is located in the United States, and they use a mix of non-software and software solutions from Adobe.

A Modern Balancing Act: Combining Art and Engineering:

  • There is not a single silver bullet piece of software that solves all of a business's operational and logistics needs, so a wide array of solutions are required to be successful in today's eCommerce climate.
  • Lovepop has several analytics tools (some they built themselves) that they use for forecasting, EDI (electronic data interchange) solutions that bridge disparate systems, and several financial systems, to name a few.
  • For their homegrown systems, Lovepop has designed forecasting and planning systems, routing logic, order placement, and various scheduling automations.
  • What systems can you brand design in-house that would fit your business than out of the box solutions?

Addressing Variation: Tackling Seasonality:

  • Due to the seasonal nature of Lovepop's busy periods, systems put in place before a business spike are huge assets when it comes to handling larger amounts of orders.
  • What types of systems can you use to address seasonality and prepare for unexpected order spikes?
  • There is a difference between systems that Lovepop buys and those that they build.
  • Lovepop is more apt to build systems in-house because they customization options that they offer to their customers require some heavy lifting on the back end.

Diving Into Data: Harnessing the Power of Analytics:

  • Analytics are traditionally siloed into whatever platform they are based on, so finding ways to merge these data sets is a challenge.
  • There are two types of data: decision-making data and problem-solving data, and core systems usually deal with problem-solving data.
  • Decision-making data is handled by data scientists and data engineers and put into an engine that fuels the directions and decisions of the company.

  • There is software that facilitates decision modeling that aids data scientists in their analyses, and it is the operations side that handles how to get this data to their data science team.

  • Data integrations have to be timely and be able to facilitate large amounts of robust data to be efficient.
  • What software can aid in data modeling and helping your business make informed decisions?

Current Technology Challenges: What's Troubling Lovepop?

  • The biggest technology challenge that Lovepop faces right now is finding a way to integrate its retail operations and its eCommerce operations from an omnichannel experience.
  • How can you make the eCommerce experience better for the customer?
  • Lovepop is also trying to find technology that will allow their site to show real-time store inventory for customers to know where to find products in-store.
  • These troubles are the same for any size company, and the process of choosing technology is very similar.

Making the Decision: Factors for Selecting Your Technology:

  • Resource availability and capital are usually the two most influential factors to consider when choosing software for your tech stack.
  • Deciphering whether or not you have the resources to do something can determine whether you buy the technology outright or come up with your solution.
  • Sometimes there are outside business factors that can accelerate the decision-making process.
  • As a team, helping each other weigh each other's priorities is a very effective way to make the most informed decision about tech stack purchases.
  • Being nimble lets you make better decisions.

Looking to the Future: What's On the Horizon?:

  • Over the past five years, there has been dramatic change across all business technologies, but how do you know what technologies can make a sound investment five years down the road?
  • The ease and openness of an application in terms of its ability to integrate with others is an excellent indicator of future growth.
  • Applications that are closed off to outside integration will not be able to advance as fast as its competitors.
  • Be ready to invest in software that allows you to have the flexibility and the freedom to grow with your business.

Brands Mentioned in this Episode:

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Retail Tech is moving fast, but Future Commerce is moving faster.