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How bol.com identified the needs of its 34.000 partners

Bol.com, the leading online retailer in the Netherlands set out to fundamentally change the way they combine Big and Small Data with TheyDo playing a critical role.

For a large retailer with heaps of data about both customers and sellers on their platform, you’d think it would be easy to make data-driven decisions. While big data can reveal problems or opportunities very precisely, it is more or less limited to ‘what’ and ‘how large’. To truly make the most of these insights, the bol.com B2B team needed to combine big and small data, as this would then allow them to understand the ‘why’ and ‘who’.

Bol.com, traditionally an online retailer, has been opening up its platform to third-party sellers since 2011. According to Marloes Bos, a marketer in the B2B team, bringing their partner’s perspective into the workflow is critical to becoming the top platform in the Benelux region for online retail.

"My vision for our team is to start projects based on the experiences of our partners. Since we want to offer them the chances they need to grow as an online retailer via our platform."

Marloes Bos

B2B Marketing

With the corona crisis impacting a multitude of people there has been tremendous growth of their third-party seller platform. To truly understand the different needs sellers have and the job they hire bol.com to do for them, the B2B team set out to get an overview of the entire ‘Partner-Customer Experience’.

Capturing insights

Bos and her team designed a plan to organise a series of workshops, to co-create the partner experience, and to define the need-based profiles along the customer journey. The selection was done based on an initial query that split the complete partner portfolio into four ‘unique’ groups. This identified distinct segmentation in two areas; technical ability and knowledge of bol.com’s portfolio. Little did they know what they were about to find out.

The first part of each workshop was designed to identify the job to be done — why partners joined the platform in the first place. The second part was to identify how they use the platform currently and how they think about growing their business. The assumption was that based on big data segmentation, bol.com was able to reveal 4 different need-based profiles, or ‘personas’ as we call them.

Aligning stakeholders

“Getting our stakeholders to see the customer experience through the eyes of all our partners is a key tactic in how we want to work”, Bos continues; “We made sure our Belgian partner’s experience was captured in our customer journeys and we didn’t bias our decisions because we happen to be a Dutch company.”

After having partners collaborate in the remote workshops, the team was indeed able to distill unique need-based profiles. This, in turn, allowed the partners to understand the job they hired bol.com to do. The need-based profiles, however, couldn’t be related to the initial segmentation. They turned out to be an extension. Ecommerce experience was one driver that clearly defined success for partners. A more surprising driver, however, was the clear distinction between what partners needed when building a brand compared to the more established partners offering a wide range of products.

"“TheyDo enables us to align our understanding of our partners and reveal what to do next and why.""

Marloes Bos

B2B Marketing

How TheyDo helps

Instead of starting every project from scratch, bol.com is using TheyDo to align everyone in the organisation around the customer experience. With their need-based persona profiles and customer journeys in an interactive format, teams can quickly see if they have enough information or need more insights. The data scientists combine the persona profiles with the actual ‘share of revenue’ and the size of the total partner base they represent. In other words, getting a 360° view of who, what, where, when, and how.

For the teams responsible for the acquisition and growth of the customer journey, or ‘partner journey’ in bol.com’s case, TheyDo captures an entire overview. The master journey reveals hidden obstacles and creates a one-stop shop for understanding who needs what and why. As business challenges are captured within TheyDo, different teams can deliver on their KPI’s by working more customer-centric. This simplifies the process, making it easy to see who is doing what and which problem areas in the customer experience need to be addressed.

This, however, is just the start of the bol.com-TheyDo partnership. Having solved a number of key challenges for the Partner Marketing Team, there are now plans to integrate TheyDo into other areas of the business. From understanding their partner personas and making customer journeys interactive, to helping facilitate remote collaboration (achieved through the creation of one online place to work together on improving the customer experience). TheyDo has proved its ability to help identify and remove obstacles.

In short, TheyDo lets everyone in the organisation see the customer experience the way it is. Creating a shared understanding and enabling effective collaboration based not on opinion but factual insights and real-life experiences of the bol.com partners. Thanks to several aha-moments, prioritisation became a no-brainer. All of the stakeholders were now able to understand immediately — that seeing things from the customers’ perspective, was the only way forward.


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