Marketers Who Matter: Alberto Billato at De’Longhi Group

by Jon Fortgang
Alberto Billato, Group eCommerce Marketing Manager at De’Longhi Group

Alberto Billato is Group eCommerce Marketing Manager at De’Longhi Group. We caught up with him to hear about localisation, community and the omnichannel experience.

What are some of the key elements of De’Longhi’s ecommerce strategy this year?

First of all, let me give you a bit of background on the company. De’Longhi Group is not just the Italian brand famous for its coffee machines and heating products. There is also the British brand Kenwood and our most recent acquisition, Braun Household from Germany. Each brand comes with its own peculiarities and product categories, meaning the strategy differs for each. Although different, there is a common goal for all of them: extend our customers’ lifecycle.

Historically, the Group never got to know its customers unless the product was faulty or needed a service. The biggest challenge we had was to get to know the customer before, during and after purchase, regardless of where they decided to buy our products.

For this reason, the Group is now investing considerably in digital, specifically CRM, to control communication with the customer. Ecommerce is the simplest way for us to monetise this.

You’ve spoken in the past about the importance of localisation in ecommerce. Any advice on how marketers can refine their localisation strategy?

There is not just one recipe when it comes to localisation. In fact, the last two companies I’ve worked for have a different approach when it comes to making the site right for the local market.

At Wiggle, the cycling online pure-player, we took a step-by-step approach, carefully selecting the markets to focus our efforts on and then localising our service, including translations, site content, payments, customer service, delivery methods and product range.

At De’Longhi, the approach had to be different because we already have in-country subsidiaries, with a fully translated website, localised content and local customer support. Needless to say, we had to offer a localised site from day one, to include currency, payment methods, delivery methods and even a local fulfilment centre where there was a different plug.

Localisation is not the same in every business. My advice is to do your homework first, understand who your customers are and what matters to them. You may find out that not all markets require the same level of localisation.

We hear a lot in ecommerce circles about the ‘omnichannel experience’. What does omnichannel mean to you in 2016, and are there any brands you’d point to as doing it well?

To me omnichannel means providing our customers the same experience wherever they decide to engage with our products. More than 70 per cent of shoppers do their product research online, so it’s imperative for us to deliver rich, comprehensive and consistent information about our products across all digital touchpoints, not only on our websites, but also on the ones of our retailers. With the help of a content syndication provider we have been able to increase online sales by 12 per cent for our retailers, simply by enriching their product pages with better content.

But omnichannel is not just about getting people to buy our products everywhere they like. For a manufacturer of small domestic appliances, the game of omnichannel can be played at the end of the sales cycle. Customers will be in touch for multiple reasons after the purchase. The reason could be maintenance, the warranty or simply finding out how to get the most out of their product. They do so by phone, in-store, online or through our service partners. We need to be able to recognise and understand the people who contact us: which product do they own? Have they already been in touch with us? When did they buy their coffee machine and when will they need to descale it? A truly omnichannel business empowers after-sales in both online and offline customer contact. It can achieve amazing results in repeat trade and extend customer lifecycle.

How important is De’Longhi’s online community and what sort of strategies help it grow?

Communities have always played a key role in our after-sales marketing strategy. De’Longhi use the Coffee Club to convince customers to register online the machine they bought. Kenwood have the Kitchen Club. Both are very engaged communities and we like to consider them our VIP customers. We treat our members with some freebies, special deals or exclusive content and we ask them to participate by sharing their own recipes or ideas. All these insights are then used internally to improve our products.

Where do you go to for inspiration and motivation – what (or who) are some of your favourite sources of digital marketing insight?

Here is a list of sites I keep track of: Moz.com, Kissmetrics.com, Unbounce.com and e-commercefacts.com. I find that real life case studies are one of the most useful tools to guide your digital direction; learning from other people’s successes and failures can really help with things to try and things to avoid. Take a look!