Global shutdowns in 2020 forced businesses across the world to rethink the way they do business. For international outdoor gear manufacturer Boll\u00e9 Brands, that meant diving headfirst into digitalization. Boll\u00e9 Brands\u2019 Global Digital Director Damien Hars and his team were tasked with launching the company\u2019s first direct-to-consumer (D2C) website on a timeline that most would find impossible \u2014 but they rose to the challenge and launched a successful website in just six months. Here\u2019s his story.\nIn the age of the connected consumer, being able to reach your customers across digital channels is critically important. As a leading brand in the eyewear and sporting industry, I joined Boll\u00e9 Brands in March 2020 to continue our efforts to build and execute a digital strategy. As the sporting industry has evolved and consumers\u2019 preferences have changed, we realized in order to continue to deliver on our history of product innovation we needed to find ways to more directly engage with customers.\nAt Boll\u00e9 Brands most of our digital initiatives were driven by our external partners and external agencies. While this helped us achieve our goals at the time, we recognized that in order to compete in an all digital world we needed to go faster. I was hired to create greater agility and speed so we could respond better to customers and the market.\nAccelerated Transformation: From 2 Years to 6 months\nAfter just a few weeks into my new job, the COVID-19 pandemic sent our entire company into lockdown. We had to examine our priorities and identify where we needed to focus our efforts.\nReaching customers safely meant the overall digitalization of the company went straight to the top of the list with an incredibly accelerated timeline. Most urgent? Our brands had never been available on a direct-to-consumer commerce platform.\u00a0 We had to build a D2C platform quickly because customers could not go to their regular retailers to find our products during global lockdowns.\nI had figured I had about two years to lead a complete digital transformation. What I planned to do in two years I ended up doing in about six months. Here are four lessons I learned that I hope can help you make your own digital transformation effort a success.\nLesson 1: Speed means being agile, and making critical decisions every day\nDelivering fast is critical to our business, and as a result of the tight timelines was critical to our success. Fortunately, I had past experience to draw from having worked on a similar transformation. To move fast you have to adopt an agile mindset.\nBecause our customers couldn\u2019t access our products with stores closed due to the pandemic, we needed a platform to sell to engage and get in front of them. No stores? No D2C commerce website? No sales.\nThis made our path forward pretty clear: build a solid website without spending too much time on the details, very much embracing the \u201cMinimum Viable Product\u201d mindset endemic to the agile methodology. To go fast we made a rule: we would make critical decisions quickly every single day. For example, we built the design of the Boll\u00e9 Brands homepage in one day \u2014\u00a0and that was after establishing the global and technical architecture of the site in just four days.\nI\u2019ve found that when making critical decisions, if you spend too much time on those decisions, you can lose sight of your target. The idea was to go very fast knowing that we could improve the website further down the road. The most crucial thing was to go live as soon as possible and that took quick and confident decision making.\nLesson 2: Prioritize listening to your customers\nAs a brand with global reach, customers have to be at the center of everything that we do. Specifically, we needed to listen to our customers, and understand their feedback, interests and concerns . To do this, we listen to our networks, our social media community, and our customer base as much as we can. But listening without taking action doesn\u2019t make sense. So we need to make sure this feedback gets routed to the right person at our company so they can act.\nOne of those first critical decisions we made was to launch a customer service tool at the same time as our new D2C website \u2014 one that connected seamlessly to our commerce platform. It would have been impossible and frankly irresponsible to launch our ecommerce website with just two people working on the website and one community manager.\nFinding connected tools isn\u2019t just about convenience on our side. The right tools for us needed to be natively connected in order to provide a better customer experience. That way, our agents can recognize customers and help as they\u2019re shopping in real time. Because Salesforce Commerce Cloud was integral in the launch of the website itself, we chose Salesforce Service Cloud to help us meet our own high standards of customer service. It felt safe because we knew that all order requests and all the data coming from customers would be gathered into one single tool.\nLesson 3: Build small and use feedback to scale\nBecause we had to go fast to get something to our customers, we started with a very simple website. While it had important information, we know there would be some bells and whistles missing in the early iterations, such as only the foundational elements of a product detail page, or limited localization of languages. But, by starting small, we were able to set the stage for later improvements and growth.\nAdditionally, we decided to launch the site with a very simple product page and give customers a way to share feedback. By launching customer support along with the website, we started getting this valuable feedback after only a couple days. The customer service team had requests for information that customers felt was missing on our product detail page, such as a fit guide, for instance, or missing information like the weight or size of the products.\nUltimately, this feedback became the next iterations of the website. We were able to prioritize building out these pages as our next step. Providing the right information on the product detail pages sounds like a no-brainer, but when you start from scratch and have to move very quickly, not everything can get done in the first round. What\u2019s important is the agile mindset, which allowed us to launch quickly, take in customer feedback, and make improvements over time.\nLesson 4: Don\u2019t reinvent the wheel: Leverage technology best practices and experts to accelerate time to value\nOne of our biggest takeaways from this project is that there\u2019s no need to reinvent the wheel. If you can take out of the box technologies, features, and plugins \u2014 especially those allowing you to build with clicks not code \u2014 just do it! Our value is in creating demand for our products, not reinventing technological features. Take what\u2019s available in the field and play with it to make it work for you.\nWe also brought in Salesforce Professional Services experts to help with the entire process and planning for the future. This let us hear from the best in the business on how to use these new tools to get our site up and running fast. The Salesforce team had a very valuable perspective that helped us set priorities based on our goals, and guide us at critical moments to achieve those goals.\nThe past year has brought a lot of unexpected challenges, and there were plenty of moments of uncertainty. Despite this, our focus on serving our customers allowed us to build internal digital skill sets, launch a D2C ecommerce platform and build an organizational muscle of speed and agility. While the future continues to evolve, we know that by staying close to our customers, making agile decisions, and using technology, we\u2019ll be well positioned to handle whatever comes our way.\n\n\nDamien Hars, Global Digital Director, Boll\u00e9 Brands\n\n\nBoll\u00e9 \u00a0Brands is a sporting goods company located near Lyons, France, that encompasses the brands Boll\u00e9, Spyoptic, and Serengeti. Damien Hars is an experienced global leader in marketing and e-commerce, currently in charge of developing Boll\u00e9 Brands\u2019 digital strategy, driving innovation to become one of the world\u2019s leading eyewear and head protection companies as the household name in eyewear and winter sports. Prior to joining Boll\u00e9 Brands, Damien led digital marketing and e-commerce technology for Rossignol, a global force in winter sports equipment and apparel.