Bol.com is an e-commerce company located in the Netherlands. It was officially founded as Bertelsmann Online in 1999 as part of Bertelsman, a German multinational and one of the largest media conglomerates worldwide. Its main products include general merchandising such as jewelry, electronics, home goods, toys, books, and gardening. They introduced “Selling via bol.com” in 2011, allowing retailers to sell on their platform, garnering upwards of 30,000 retailers. It currently has 11 million customers across the Netherlands and Belgium with approximately 2,000 employees.
Room to Improve
According to bol.com’s ICT manager: “Experimentation allows bol.com’s teams to develop new ideas, products, and services in a more hypothesis-driven way.”
Indeed, bol.com had achieved success with its experimentation platform, but that success soon hit a wall. The design of the system proved to be inefficient, lacking a unified function. Too many processes led to confusion and slowed down the initial benefits of drawing out user data via different experimentation systems, i.e. the business side and technical side. Bol.com wanted to consolidate its existing experimentation program making it more usable and enabling progressive delivery. They needed the right set of tools and a powerful roadmap to get them where they needed to be.
Build a New Platform
For bol.com, running swiftly and adeptly goes hand in hand with innovation and experimentation. Yet they struggled with implementing an experimentation platform that ran smoothly. Cross-functional alignment with business, marketing, and technical sides came to a clash. As such, Xebia was brought in to design a single platform where all tracks could run together to accelerate growth and create faster feedback loops to initiate leads in product development and services. Bol.com’s product manager explained: “Xebia has helped us get off to a flying start with the development of our experimentation tool. With this tool, all bol.com users (and in the future, partners) can do experiments independently, so that you can determine the pace at which you learn.”
Customization as Competitive Necessity
What occurred as an experiment in itself resulted in something that improves overall user experience on multiple levels. Bol.com wanted to change its existing experiment platform. Xebia came in with a customized solution and slimmed down the old using underlying technology and made it more user-friendly. This then became a roadmap for future change. Now, there are fewer obstacles and more focus can be put on finding ways to make the customer experience better. Workflow and avenues to solve problems more agilely have been greatly optimized.