Inside Billabong's IT strategy

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Inside Billabong's IT strategy
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The future of e-tail

E-commerce is one of Millett's three functional areas of responsibility and a key plank in Billabong's turnaround strategy.

The surf giant is working towards an endgame where its "bricks-and-mortar" retail and e-commerce capabilities are tightly integrated.

"With e-commerce it's really about looking at how we get the convergence in the channels," Millett said.

"A good example of that is in North America we've got the queue-busting technology on iPad minis, where customers can be served in the store on the iPad device.

"Alternatively, a customer can come in and look at the breadth and range of the product and say, 'Well actually I like that one in blue', and our iPad mini device then gives the associate in the store the opportunity to either fulfil the customer on the spot with something that's available in our e-commerce warehouse, or alternatively have it delivered to the store for the customer to return."

The opportunity to start a transaction in-store and finish it online is but one way Billabong hopes to improve the traditional retail experience.

"How the customer chooses to interact needs to be up to them but it needs to be as equally easy for them to walk into a store and be fulfilled as it is to go online, and they need to have the options around how they experience the Billabong brands and the products that we have," Millett said.

"In the next three-to-five years we'll build the capability. You'll see the e-commerce group merge very tightly with the retail group and continue to get that real advantage that a pure play doesn't have, in that we can give someone an experience in-store and online that drives advocacy around the brand."

Billabong is also continuing to develop its vertical e-commerce capabilities via the fully-owned Swell.com in North America.

The company is aiming to harness the "richness" of its online properties to drive product sales. For example, describing what one of the company's sponsored athletes is wearing, "and one click and you can be wearing it in your size delivered to either in-store or to your home".

"There's so much upside in that space," Millett said.

"Obviously it's a much more profitable business model when you're not encumbered by bricks per se and you're just doing a pure e-commerce play, but we're quite excited about the potential that has for us."

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