The second day at IRCE began with a long awaited keynote speech from Andy Dunn. Dunn is known as the founder of the direct-to-consumer brand, Bonobos. He and his business partners sold his company to Walmart for a cool $310 million.
Now Dunn is responsible for developing and growing the corresponding brands with Walmart, all the while maintaining an influence through his Bonobos background.
Experience and customer first
As the Californian men next to me in the morning said politely, Dunn’s presentation was like a wild rap performance. In half an hour he covered both the Bonobos story and Dunn’s own concept of the pillars and values of the business.
The view that experiences are central to e-commerce was one of the crucial high points of Dunn’s presentation. In his opinion too many online stores are managed wrong and in too product-focused a way. They should first focus on the experience and the customer and only then on the product and logistics.
Dunn predicted that in a few years around half of retail orders would take place online. E-commerce is not paid as much attention as before as a separate channel. The experience and holistic package are more crucial for the customer than which digital or physical channel the product comes from.
It was also particularly interesting to hear about the process of selling Bonobos and the impressions that Dunn had of Walmart. The employee abusing, gun selling retail giant had become a likeable company full of young workers and whose values had really changed from the past.
To finish, Dunn reminded us of Martin Luther King’s words. Multiculturalism, diversity and equality form the basis for better business. And it is on these values that Walmart will base its business in future.
Old-timer and juniors
After Dunn the big stage belonged to Chip Conley, who was with AirBnB for several years. In spite of his age, his role was not to lead the company but to offer the management strategic consulting. Conley spoke well about the value of keeping workers of all ages in the organization. When youthful passion meets experience, the best result often follows.
A younger colleague had told Conley that knowledge of substance and historical memories were not valuable for the company; rather, the process competence acquired by experience was. With an average employee age of just 26, the process competence combined with the people skills resulting from Conley’s experience enabled the company to grow in the right direction. Knowledge speaks and experience listens – that was Conley’s maxim for digitally growing companies.
At the end, Conley quoted Peter Drucker and his definition of knowledge workers. He thought that Drucker was ahead of his time and mentioned that he wrote more than half of his books after 65. However, he would go on to keep calling knowledge workers wisdom workers. People’s unique ability to understand other people moves into sharper focus with the rise of AI and the amount of data.
Efficiency and new success stories
The day continued with several shorter presentations. The topics included SEO through content marketing, email marketing in the 2020s and market resource allocation in accordance with the best direct-to-consumer cases. Blenders, Parachute, Glamorise and Tiege were some of the new success stories presented.