Customer-Centric Business Transformation Reinvigorates a 163-Year-Old Outdoor Brand

Most companies are in some stage of business transformation. Many start small by updating specific workflows. Others go for complete technology refreshes from top to bottom. Some organizations simply go through the motions and never quite achieve the results they want.

Here’s a story of one company with a strong sense of adventure and a willingness to go all in with Customer Experience Management (CXM) —not only investing in technology but also empowering its people and reexamining its business model to stay competitive.

An outdoor brand with a long history and a bright future

Tucked away in rural Vermont, Orvis headquarters look out over 500 acres of forest and mountain—paradise for the company’s employees and the outdoor enthusiasts Orvis caters to. Fishing streams surround the property, which borders a natural black bear habitat. It’s an ideal setting for the outdoor brand, which has connected people with nature for more than 160 years. But in many ways the peaceful landscape stands in contrast to the energy and innovation bubbling inside the company’s offices, where the Orvis team is undertaking an enormous business transformation focused around its customers.

Paul Vaughn, director of user experience, and his team are at the center of the initiative, charged with creating more powerful customer experiences that can be delivered with greater agility.

“If we stayed with our history of primarily offering products through a direct mail catalog, we would quickly become irrelevant,” says Vaughn. “It sounds extreme, but we have a lot of competitors who see us as their prime target for stealing market share.”

Orvis executives went all in for the transformation, and they wanted to make sure it delivered results. To accomplish this they knew they couldn’t just invest in technology and expect the change to happen automatically. Instead, they needed to reinvent themselves.

A new team structure encourages an exciting conversation

Orvis kicked off the initiative by combining elements of marketing, creative, and IT into an integrated team, all reporting to Dave Finnegan, the newly instated Chief Experience Officer. From the beginning, the potential was clear.

“Every conversation now takes a much broader view spanning website, email, technology, and retail stores,” says Vaughn. “It’s exciting to watch the walls between groups crumble. Every silo gone, and we’re synchronizing every movement.”

New marketing mindset—not just faster, but more intentional

Moving from a traditional catalog model to delivering a dynamic experience across direct mail, web, and email is a big shift for Orvis. According to Vaughn, this requires new ways of working that is finely tuned to seasonal launches.

“We need to move faster and act with more intention and intelligence,” he says. “That could mean creating and delivering content to address an early warm spell in the southern U.S. or a deep freeze in New England on a moment’s notice—and accomplishing it with ease rather than sheer grit.”

The benefits are already evident. “Our very first seasonal campaign was for Fathers’ Day 2016. Fathers are typically pretty hard to buy for,” Vaughn says. “We put our creative ideas behind building out our fishing story and highlighting gifting collections for men. The campaign really resonated with people. It far exceeded anything we expected.”

Technology is the foundation for sweeping transformation

Orvis is adopting new technology across the company, everything from enterprise systems to individual workstations to marketing tools. Aiming to support Vaughn’s ambitious plans for marketing content, the company adopted Adobe Experience Cloud solutions — Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Analytics, and Adobe Target — as an end-to-end solution for the website, rounding out its use of Adobe Creative Cloud for content creation.

One big step was to create consistency across the catalog, website, and retail stores by aligning messaging, photography, and product campaigns—and storing everything in a digital asset management system with Adobe Experience Manager Assets. Orvis then took it several steps further.

“Adobe Asset Link is miraculous,” says Vaughn. “The speed with which we’re able to find assets, determine usage rights, and deploy them is probably 100 times faster. In moments—rather than hours—I can see the new shoot coming in from Austin, for example, and use it right away.”

In addition, the team used Adobe Experience Manager Experience Fragments to save marketing copy as reusable assets, so everything that’s needed to launch campaigns across channels is easily accessible.

As Vaughn says, “We’re almost to the promised land, and it’s pretty incredible. The transformation we’ve gone through in the past 18 months is going to pay us back for years and years.”

Orvis uses Adobe Experience Cloud and its content management, digital asset management, analytics and personalization solutions to enable Customer Experience Management. Learn more here.

Hear more from Orvis at Adobe Summit – the Digital Experience Conference, on March 26-28 in Las Vegas.