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Digital Insider

Digital Insider: Diana Cardona on digital transformation challenges

Andreea Pop
Andreea Pop December 22, 2021
Digital Insider: Diana Cardona on digital transformation challenges

While ‘digital transformation’ is arguably the most important initiative in today’s retail industry, the buzzworthy process is easier said than done. There are many factors at play: the business model matters immensely, and so do your organizational structure and business leaders. 

Yet it’s not all gloom and doom — the mission is possible with the right amount of commitment, resilience and grit from the project’s champions. To find out more about the hurdles of a digital transformation process and how to successfully overcome them, you are hereby invited to an episode of Digital Insider, a podcast series about the digitalization of retail, featuring Diana Cardona, Ecommerce Manager of Payless LATAM. 

Meet the guest

After studying international business management, Diana Cardona started her career by experimenting with logistics and operations. She worked at JB Logistics and Cellstar in operational roles only to then move to Payless in 2008, a company that has cherished her ever since and that has been known across the world as a leading footwear retailer. 

In the beginning of her journey at Payless, she once again applied her operational expertise as an International Logistics Manager. Yet in 2020, in sync with the entire world of retail, Diana’s mindset and skills had to embrace the onslaught of digital. Thus, she took up the challenge of becoming the Ecommerce Manager for the entire Latin American branch, overseeing the digital transformation of the giant label in South America, Central America and the Caribbean.    

Payless’s digital transformation efforts

Payless LATAM handles 430 brick-and-mortar stores scattered across 21 countries. Despite the infamous retail apocalypse not hitting the region like it did in the US, the footwear company wanted to prepare against the inevitable on its own terms, knowing the customer experience will need to evolve. 

Thus, it brought in knowledgeable management, restructured internal teams, changed the ERP, upgraded its POS and even migrated to VTEX with a consolidated ecommerce plan in mind. But early on, it was evident this digital transformation initiative would be an incredibly complex endeavor. 

“Apparently, if we say LATAM, it’s easy for others to think the digital transformation strategy will be copied and pasted across the entire region, but each country is completely different and there are specific challenges that we need to consider.”

Diana Cardona, Ecommerce Manager of Payless LATAM

Digital transformation challenges

In the episode, Cardona goes on to highlight the many challenges of a digital business transformation. For instance, there are internal and external cultural challenges, namely those that affect the consumer and the organization as a whole. 

With ecommerce representing such a big shift, especially in regions where digital adoption is low, the roll-out of various digital technologies can be delayed because people are afraid of the unknown. Additionally, for the footwear sector in particular, brick-and-mortar will always have a strong pull on shoppers, as they look to first try on the desired items. 

“In some countries, there are very conservative consumers that do not yet trust they will receive the items they are paying for.” 

Diana Cardona, Ecommerce Manager of Payless LATAM

For Payless LATAM, two ways to counteract that distrust were by embracing an omnichannel operation (i.e. integrating the stores’ inventory and creating seamless ‘phygital’ experiences) and by guiding consumers through each step of the buying process with lots of high-quality and explanatory content

But oftentimes, when traditional retailers implement omnichannel, their store associates start the process by viewing ecommerce with a raised eyebrow. Firstly, they see it as a competitor to the channel they are primarily responsible for — in other words, channel cannibalization. Secondly, they see it as more tasks on their already-full stack of jobs to be done.

“From the organizational perspective, we also need to convince our employees there is no competition between our sales channels.”

Diana Cardona, Ecommerce Manager of Payless LATAM

Payless relied on incentives to get out of this latest dilemma. Therefore, all ecommerce sales fulfilled by a particular store were to be included in its results, thus influencing commissions. Suffice it to say, stores are already inquiring about when their turn to be integrated into the omnichannel network is!

Diana Cardona delves into plenty of others topics of interest in this podcast episode, such as:

  • The power of the payments ecosystem over a digitization initiative;
  • The need for transparent communication about business processes;
  • Data-driven mindsets without losing focus of the big picture.

To find out more about the requirements of a successful digital transformation journey and Payless’s key learnings for the long term, don’t forget to listen below. 

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