6 ingredients for successful digital transformation

Where to start your digital transformation journey in fashion? It doesn't start at the same place to everyone. Some fashion brands and teams are more ready for digital ...

Where to start your digital transformation journey in fashion? It doesn't start at the same place to everyone. Some fashion brands and teams are more ready for digital transformation than the others. It's part of the process. Also, there is no top secret ingredient in this recipe. It requires focus on the steps and some good quality materials.

Let's imagine a scene:

You're at the start of your successful digital transformation journey. A big moment: sharing your inspiring vision with your organization. Surprisingly enough, you are not quite getting the exciting response that you were expecting:

“You are telling us to sell without samples? You’re crazy!” 

“Why would you change what is currently working so well?”

This is a usual first response to change, especially when being in your comfort zone and you feel you’re doing great in your current job.

Also, these were the two questions that we had to answer over and over again when we introduced a major digital transformation program at fashion brands Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein in 2015. 

I was lucky enough to be part of this digital transformation journey. We transformed traditional wholesale selling to what is now known as Digital Selling, working with the coolest tech, flashy screens, and life size touch tables – what’s not to like about that?

I’ve also learned that making people adopt and love the new solution does require some tender, love, and care. Enter: change management.

We had put a major focus on moving everybody from the “oh, this is new and scary,” to the “wow, this is actually really great”. This unlocked our move from vision to reality and helped sustain the success over time. 

This experience fuelled my passion for the human aspect of change: getting to the right starting point for your transformation by crafting a change mindset and driving behavioral change. Hence, I’d like to share some learnings summed up in what I refer to as the key ingredients for a successful digital transformation.

Download the case study: Tommy Hilfiger, the first digital showroom in fashion

1. Share an inspiring change story

If you are in the driver’s seat for transformation you should tell a compelling change story you truly believe in. Spread your vision within your organization to make change the new norm, and bring clarity on why you want to get to your future destination. 

2. Leadership buy-in

Top-down sponsorship will not only help you to get the change moving, but can also prevent stalling in the bottom-up. 

3. Understand challenges

You need to understand that people might be naturally wary of change, and you need to admit the challenges people might encounter. In the end, you might be changing the ways of working someone might be used to for years, yet you need them to make the change a success.

4. Empower the workforce

Involve everybody that can help make the change a success from the get-go to ignite adoption. It is a new journey and therefore exciting to discover and ride it together. Don’t leave anyone stranded. 

5. Future-proof skills

Change equals newness. You don’t want to leave people in the unknown and make change feel daunting. Crafting the pathway and defining the learning curve for teams involved is therefore essential. Coaching and training will help build the newly required skills and capabilities needed for success. 

6. Continuous dialogue 

Keep the communication flowing. All ears and eyes open – you need to constantly be aware of the good, the bad, and the ugly to deliver continuous value to the workforce. This will help you to drive change that sustains over time. 

An important bonus to add here is that you should celebrate achievements and successes, even the small ones. Breaking a big phenomenon like Digital Transformation into bite-sized increments that will be rewarded, will make change more digestible for everyone. 

Remember, it is people that can make or break a successful digital transformation.