Prepared to Pivot | Digital Tech Team’s Strategy for Online Demand Sees Spike in Sales

The acceleration of online Marketplaces during COVID-19 contributed towards a 40% increase in second quarter online sales



As lockdown measures swept across the globe in the early months of the pandemic and forced many brick-and-mortar stores to suspend or scale back business operations, consumers increasingly turned to online shopping. But amid this tumultuous retail environment, VF was already prepared to pivot, thanks in large part to a comprehensive e-commerce strategy envisioned by the Digital Technology team more than a year ago.

​​​​​​​A critical component of the strategy was the development of a new Marketplace Commerce platform, which allows consumers to access products through different online retailers.

Marketplaces function like an online “shopping mall,” offering a range of products that no single store can match. By choosing to sell within these Marketplaces VF brands become more visible to a wider range of consumers.

“Whether you are purchasing VF brands from Amazon, Target, eBay or Zalando, it looks like you are able to buy from a lot of places,” explained Velia Carboni, VF’s Chief Digital Technology Officer. “In fact, you are buying directly from VF, which manages the listing, price and so on... Our online Marketplaces are true examples of how VF is transforming its business for the future. The Digital Technology team brought amazing value to the company at a critical moment in time.”

A Look at VF E-commerce Marketplaces

                   

The Vans shop on Instagram enables users to purchase directly from a post. Zalando is one of the largest digital Marketplaces in EMEA.


More and more retailers are embracing this model. In 2019, 58% of global e-commerce took place in Marketplaces.

“I believe Marketplaces are the wholesale of the future.” said Santiago Arteaga, Director Product Manager – Global Marketplaces Commerce at VF.

“We are giving our brand leads the freedom to engage in these type of opportunities as they see fit in their best commercial interest,” Santiago added. “Our efforts have resulted in faster delivery and given the brands the flexibility they need to test new partners and new business models, leading to increased sales and a more responsive distribution strategy.”

How we did it.

Last year, VF’s team of engineers acquired technology resources and built a fast and flexible Marketplaces Commerce platform that can be managed in-house. 

What started as a pilot program in November 2019 expanded and currently houses seven brands across four Marketplaces in EMEA and NORA. By the end of Fiscal Year 2021, all our brands from these two regions will be integrated and we expect to have our brands live in seven Marketplaces.

“We rapidly turned into early adopters in this space. Today, VF is able to respond quickly to continuously evolving business scenarios and to be in the front line of piloting new models,” said Alessandra Greco, Director – Digital Product (EMEA).

It’s working. And it shows.  
Earnings from the second quarter of this fiscal year indicate the strategy is working to our advantage. While VF’s overall revenue was down during the quarter, our global digital business increased more than 40% in the quarter with strength across regions and brands -- with our big four brands achieving digital growth of nearly 50% this quarter.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​“Our forward thinking was already in play, and that let us fast-track implementation across all brands and adapt really quickly to unforeseen circumstances that have changed the industry forever,” said Mike Cicchetti, Vice President, Global Consumer and Product Management and Digital Engineering.