Season 12 Episode 5
June 2, 2023

[STEP BY STEP] What Frameworks Should I use to Qualify Good Software for my Business?

This season on Step by Step, we are asking what does “seamless” mean to my eCommerce business and how do I demystify that in a way that helps me select the right solutions and softwares that make a seamless experience come to life? Just like the suiting and the apparel that KASHIYAMA provides to its customer, there is no one size fits all solution in eCommerce today. Selecting software correctly and well in your organization requires a lot of orchestration and effort and sometimes some frameworks and tips and tricks on how to do that well. BJ McCahill knows all about this and has incredible insights to share. Listen now!

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this episode sponsored by

This season on Step by Step, we are asking what does “seamless” mean to my eCommerce business and how do I demystify that in a way that helps me select the right solutions and softwares that make a seamless experience come to life? Just like the suiting and the apparel that KASHIYAMA provides to its customer, there is no one size fits all solution in eCommerce today. Selecting software correctly and well in your organization requires a lot of orchestration and effort and sometimes some frameworks and tips and tricks on how to do that well.  BJ McCahill knows all about this and has incredible insights to share. Listen now!

In this episode:

  • {0:10:19} - “We calculated at one point there were over 10 million combinations of types of products that you can order. So just looking at the platform where we were going to house our website, that was a huge consideration. Even though initial order volume wasn't going to be that high, we knew the data complexity needed something that was robust and something that could support that.” - BJ
  • {0:15:13} - “Obviously all of these software companies are trying to sell you something. And so maybe they're putting their best foot forward. So you may need to dig a little bit deeper with recommendations from people in the industry, recommendations from agencies that you're working with to make sure that what they're explaining to you is how it works in reality as well.” - BJ
  • {0:19:05} - “Budget plays a huge role obviously in any business decision, but specifically in terms of software selection, you hear the term Total Cost of Ownership, and that is really, really key to think about. The number that you're seeing presented by this software or this agency is not maybe the total number that you're going to end up paying.” - BJ
  • {0:30:08} - “We needed to be able to offer a seamless experience between in-store and online and not every software was going to support that, but it was something that we learned was going to be key to our customer experience that we were offering to be able to really deliver that omnichannel experience for the customers.” - BJ
  • {0:31:59} - “One of the nuances in modern commerce is that you get to this stage of growth where the choices that you make severely feed back into the mindset of how you build your business and they become sort of sympathetic to each other. Having flexibility and being able to build quickly are underappreciated parts of having a software stack.” - Phillip

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Phillip: [00:00:37] Hello and welcome to Step by Step, a podcast by Future Commerce, presented by Adobe Commerce Services. And this is it. We are wrapping up our week, our deep dive, here on Step by Step with Episode 5. If you're just jumping into this 12th season of Step by Step, I suggest you go back and start listening from the very beginning. You will not regret it. We've had incredible conversations all the way through and today is no exception. Today we are asking the question What frameworks do you use in your business to qualify good software purchases? And purchasing software is really difficult. You've probably heard us say if you have heard the prior episodes that purchasing software is something that happens infrequently in your business and it can often be an interruption in the business and the flow of business and requires a lot of cross-functional coordination and determination from a leader in a business and bringing multiple people together to purchase software. Well, it takes a lot of work and sometimes it takes demystifying industry terms. This season, on Step by Step, we have been demystifying the concept of seamlessness by asking the question, "What does seamless mean to my eCommerce business and how do I select the right solutions and softwares to make that come to life?" So if you're like me and you're confused by industry buzzwords, we're going to demystify it here today for you. It's a fascinating listen, today we have BJ McCahill. BJ is a long time friend of the show and a longtime advocate for buying software well. He's the VP over at KASHIYAMA. KASHIYAMA, of course, is a group of fashion and apparel icons, created an incredible brand that started in Japan and is now scaling omnichannel operations throughout the world. And BJ has been in charge of modernizing a technology stack for the American market and bringing an omnichannel stack to the American market for an incredibly custom made suiting business. This apparel business is like no other. It requires an incredible amount of orchestration and selecting of software that is flexible enough and customizable enough to be able to fit them. Just like the suiting and the apparel that KASHIYAMA provides to its customer, there is no one size fits all solution in eCommerce today. Selecting software correctly and well in your organization requires a lot of orchestration and effort and sometimes some frameworks and tips and tricks on how to do that well. BJ knows how to do it because BJ has been in the seat just like you. It's an amazing listen, I know that this season has just been so valuable for me. I hope it's been valuable for you. If you need more information on demystifying some of these industry terms, buzzwords, and acronyms in the eCommerce industry, we have an expansive guide, thousands of words. We've demystified over 150 of these eCommerce industry buzzwords and acronyms. It's over at FutureCommerce.com. I know it'll be a useful read for you, but let's get into it today and let's talk about frameworks and how we can qualify good software purchases with none other than BJ McCahill, the VP of KASHIYAMA, as he takes us through how to buy software well and how to provide for a seamless experience, Step by Step. Today we continue our Step by Step Season 12 extravaganza and talking about how we, well, how we demystify some of the ways that we build eCommerce, how eCommerce and modern commerce are built today. And no better person to talk about how to make these things seamless in the world than the VP over at KASHIYAMA, our friend of the show. Welcome, BJ McCahill. Welcome.

BJ: [00:04:22] Hey, Phillip. Hey Brian. Thanks so much for having me. It's great to be here.

Phillip: [00:04:25] Yeah, it's great to have you. BJ, we go back a couple of years and watching your journey and your growth online. For those who aren't all too familiar, tell us a little bit about your role at KASHIYAMA.

BJ: [00:04:40] Yeah, so at KASHIYAMA, I was the first American employee that was kind of in charge of importing the brand from Japan. So overseeing marketing functions, product, eCommerce, and retail. So when I started my second week on the job, I flew over to Japan. I was visiting the stores, learning how they were operating, how they were functioning, meeting with all the divisions about how the product is produced, how the IT systems are set up, and what kind of creative vision they have for the brand. And really that IT piece became a large part of the role when we quickly discovered customers want to interact with the brand online and not just touch and feel the product. They want the ease of that at home.

Phillip: [00:05:27] And it's work wear, formal wear... Give us a little bit about the brand itself.

BJ: [00:05:34] Yeah. So the KASHIYAMA brand is actually under the Onward Group umbrella, which owns about 50 fashion brands worldwide and was founded in 1927. So they are able to kind of amalgamate all that fashion and fit data over the years into a made-to-measure line that they launched in 2017, which started mostly with men's suiting but quickly expanded into women's suiting, shirts, and more casual custom items. And because it was such a success in its first year, I mean, in 2017, the first calendar year, they measured over 200,000 people in Japan, they quickly realized that we wanted to expand into the US market because obviously, the American market is really key to the success of global fashion brands.

Phillip: [00:06:22] And look at us now, right, Brian? I mean, it's everyone besides you and me on this podcast right now. Very caszh. My hair's not even done. Don't watch it. But as the world, our fashion sensibilities are sort of swinging back around extremely culturally relevant to see heightened levels of dress come to the fore. I think the tastes are certainly swinging back towards fine tailoring and such. Talk a little bit about how these things kind of all work together, stitch this together for us, BJ. You said that there's a lot of overlap in the way that we build things in eCommerce and digital experiences to the world of fashion.

BJ: [00:07:10] For sure. Yeah, there's a lot of overlap, a lot of those buzzwords that you hear overused in eCommerce I think also apply to a lot of fashion, especially custom fashion. You hear about the personalization of a website and also of clothing. You hear about a seamless experience that definitely overlaps with tailoring and you hear about, as you said, stitching together different pieces. So I think that's going to be important as well when you're building out a wardrobe.

Brian: [00:07:40] Mm hmm. I love it. So much language there that overlaps, like you said. And as you came in, you had a pretty interesting task. You're the first US employee. You're overseeing the launch of the business in the US. What were some of your initial steps to make? What decisions did you have to make as you came to the US market around software and what you were going to use to launch what was effectively a nonexistent brand, but you were kind of already at scale? This is a really unique situation.

BJ: [00:08:18] Yeah, it was super unique. So we initially had set up some kind of pop-up shops and small showrooms for customers to experience the product so we could kind of get that feedback both in terms of the product they wanted to see and get details about what sizing and fabrics were popular, but also what they expected out of the brand. So how they wanted to interact with that brand. So once we had that set up, we started looking at how we wanted to bring this to the market on a larger scale, and meeting with the IT team in Japan, I think they had started off thinking it was going to be kind of a slow to grow brand, but it ended up being kind of a runaway success in Japan. So they had to catch up quickly in terms of the software and frontend experience that they had. So essentially for stylists that worked in the stores to order this very custom product in terms of personalized features of the product and also personalized fit, essentially they were entering this into kind of a glorified PDF form, which when you're going to scale is not really going to suit your business needs. And so when we started in the US, we were essentially using that as well. But as we were going to anticipate our growth, we knew that wasn't going to be sustainable long term. So we started looking at what type of platform, what type of software we were going to need for clients to order these products at home and also for our internal stylists to be able to order it for our clients in a seamless way that's going to be an effective use of their time.

Phillip: [00:09:53] Are there inherent challenges that most off-the-shelf pieces of software just cannot solve for? What are some of those rough edges, if you will, that make it difficult to choose the type of software that would serve you well?

BJ: [00:10:10] I mean, for us, the main, I think, requirement was being able to handle the amount of data that we had just due to the custom nature of the product. I think [00:10:19] we calculated at one point there were over 10 million combinations of types of products that you can order. So just looking at the platform where we were going to house our website, that was a huge consideration, just something that was going to be able to handle that. Even though initial order volume wasn't going to be that high, we knew the data complexity needed something that was robust and something that could kind of support that. [00:10:44]

Brian: [00:10:44] Data complexity. I mean, you're doing custom clothing. You're talking about product data. Data points that have to all be factored as someone updates what type of clothing they want, what fabric they want, what fit they want, and how it fits them. That's got to be a lot of data.

BJ: [00:11:11] It's a huge, huge amount of data. It's very, very complex. I mean, just looking at the fit data, the average person might not recognize this, but there are a million different angles of shoulder that you might want for your jacket, different thicknesses of shoulder padding that you might need, different widths of bicep, different shapes of armholes, and all those things that the average consumer might not think about all the time. There are things that we have to account for in our data because we want to make the best-fitting garment for our clients.

Brian: [00:11:41] That probably was one of the key criteria. Did you kind of build a framework to help you determine which pieces of software would actually be able to handle that? Obviously, data is a big part of that. Were there other factors in that process?

BJ: [00:12:01] For sure. I think really analyzing the business needs, it was great that we were able to have kind of those initial pop-up shops to gather that data, to identify pain points of the customer experience and also the stylist experience so that we could really define our business goals in terms of growing in the US. I think those were really key and it was important to kind of begin that research process with the platform that we were going to build on. So we evaluated a few different platforms and it became pretty clear we needed something more robust like the Adobe Commerce or at that time the Magento platform to build out on. Some others that we talked to were discussing, go SKUs, and their definition of kind of inventory management was a lot different than kind of what we needed for a custom build like this. And that was a really key factor in landing on the Adobe Commerce platform.

Phillip: [00:13:01] And of course, this season of Step by Step is brought to you in partnership with Adobe's Commerce Services. And I think when you think about our the modern ways in which we buy products, it's become very simplistic. The demand generation is highly personal, and so the way that we create the feeling of a personal experience, sometimes it starts at the awareness of a product that the product exists to begin with, and then we try to keep those blinders on right the way through the process. Because what a lot of eCommerce is, is not form fit function, custom made for you one of one. A lot of eCommerce is just storytelling about, yeah, collagen. Do you care about your skin or do you care about weight management? Whichever one that is, we're just going to shove you down the funnel and make sure that everything's tailored to you. And this is an unfortunate reality is that there is no one size fits all. I am really crushing the puns, you guys.

Brian: [00:14:04] Phillip, the trend continues.

Phillip: [00:14:07] The datafication of Phillip. What's really interesting and I'd love your insight here on how you can identify the potential in something. Nothing is really going to be made for you because you have such a bespoke use case in eCommerce. But yes, in the products you produce as well, that has to extend every part of the stack, not just the customer experience part, but everything right the way through inventory management. So when you went out on this process, did you have experience in vetting these before? Did you have instruments like an RFP? What were some of the ways that you tried to get apples to apples in making these decisions?

BJ: [00:14:49] Yeah, it was a pretty new experience for me. So there was a lot of catching up on lingo and acronyms and things that some of the software companies will say to you out of the box. I still find that a little bit amusing because it relates a lot to fashion and opening a gift or a custom suit, but things like that that are kind of new to you and also learning, [00:15:13] obviously all of these software companies are trying to sell you something. And so maybe they're putting their best foot forward. So you may need to dig a little bit deeper with recommendations from people in the industry, recommendations from agencies that you're working with to make sure that what they're explaining to you is how it works in reality as well. [00:15:31]

Phillip: [00:16:16] This is a thing we hear a lot about is like, well, what's in it for the agency or what's in it for the marketer? It's a very complicated commercial relationship that makes this whole industry work.

BJ: [00:16:26] For sure.

Brian: [00:16:27] In that vein, there's a lot of debate about who to trust or talk to first as you make the decisions. I've seen merchants that are like, "I don't even want to talk to any implementer SI agency until after I make my platform decision." I've seen others say, "I'm not going to touch a platform decision until I find a partner that I want to work with." And then I've seen others that are like, "Oh, we're going to run through this RFP process and we're going to make both the vendor and the SI come in together and provide us with a co-proposal," and all kinds of weird variations of this. What role did you see in particular the agency playing and did the ongoing relationship, the ongoing software support, and post-launch come into play as you thought through which software you were going to pick?

BJ: [00:17:32] Yeah, when we were looking at the platform, we were also beginning to look at agency partners as well. But we also knew that we wanted an agency that specialized in the platform that we chose. So you kind of needed to look at both simultaneously to make sure that they had the experience in that realm. Some agencies that we spoke with, once, were pretty heavily considering Adobe Commerce, didn't really have that experience. So it wasn't someone that we wanted to kind of move forward with. So we were looking at both together and then looking at some of the smaller software implementations that we were doing. We did take agency recommendations for sure. But I think it's important to kind of also do your own research and make sure that it is going to suit your business needs because after all, you're the representative of the business and you know your unique business needs better than anyone else.

Phillip: [00:18:24] How much are you thinking about the length of the partnership when you're making this decision? So I guess very tangible questions like how do you determine how much you're willing to spend on the software? I'd love to have that understood as like, how do you make that determination in your business? And then the other part is does that dictate the way that you go to find the appropriate solution? And maybe we can build on that conversation because I think that, at the end of the day, a lot of people just say, "Well, my budget can't support X, so we have to choose Y."

BJ: [00:19:04] For sure. Yeah, I think [00:19:05] budget plays a huge role obviously in any business decision, but specifically in terms of software selection, you hear the term Total Cost of Ownership, and I think that is really, really key to think about. The number that you're seeing presented by this software or this agency is not maybe the total number that you're going to end up paying. [00:19:27] So looking at those initial license fees that you're going to be paying is really key. Looking at the implementation cost, like who is going to foot the bill for that, and how much is that going to take in terms of budget? And also, the timing depending on when you're trying to go live with something. Looking at that ongoing maintenance and support, hopefully, you're building a long-term relationship with this kind of company because either replatforming or changing software can be a huge headache for a brand for sure. Looking at integration with other existing software that you have. So for us, we were kind of starting from the place of zero software, in the US anyway.

Phillip: [00:20:13] Right.

BJ: [00:20:13] But many brands are going to need to implement and integrate with existing framework or existing architecture that they have. So I think figuring out how much maybe that's going to cost and obviously looking at upgrade. So when are new versions released, how often, and how much effort is going to be needed to kind of do those updates? And is there going to be downtime? Because obviously, that can really impact your business if there's either downtime from a fact that you're losing sales or just that there's going to be customer dissatisfaction where someone's not going to be coming back because the software is not functioning for this period of time, depending on what it is. I think looking at all of those things is really, really important. And I think one of the biggest mistakes some people make when choosing a software is not maybe thinking about all the implications of that and maybe examining their contracts carefully and what that looks like in terms of how long this contract is and what you as a business are responsible for versus the software company.

Brian: [00:21:17] Now that's a really good point. What are some of the other pitfalls that maybe you were able to dance around or maybe didn't dance around as you went through this process?

BJ: [00:21:28] I mean, one thing that we were lucky about for many, many pieces is that we chose software that was going to work globally just with the mindset that we were planning to probably expand in other regions and possibly take some of this back to Japan with us once we were up and running. Something we didn't foresee was that we ended up actually expanding into the Chinese market. So we now have, I think, 6 or 8 showrooms there. So some of the software that we chose really worked seamlessly to expand there. So we built another backend instance of our website through Magento. So we have a Chinese language website, some other software that we chose maybe didn't work as well and did not kind of work behind the firewall that's there. Speed times were much lower. And obviously, we want to make our counterparts in the business in China happy as well. So I think if you do have a roadmap of where you're going to be expanding, that's a really key thing to look at. But obviously, you don't always have a crystal ball and know exactly what's going to be in store for your business. And yeah, and I think just also looking at reputation of brands like I mentioned, talking to other people in the field that are using these brands, or sorry, these software companies, that's really, really key because it gives you a really good insight in what the day to day nature of working with this company is going to be like, how responsive they are at helping you, and what kind of help desk services they have. If they seem like they're in a stable place, all of those things are really key that you may not know from the sales rep or from meetings that you're having with them. So getting those personal details is really key. I mean, people reach out to me all the time to ask about some of the different software companies that we work with, and I think most people are generally really happy to give advice or share pain points that they've had and share the strengths of these companies and maybe the weaknesses because no software is going to probably be perfect for your business. But if you can get most of the functional requirements from them down, you're going to be in a good place.

Phillip: [00:23:35] I'm sure it's not a science, so it probably borders on art, but what is your sense of the ability to sort of negotiate all the functions that make this work? For instance, when you're buying software at this scale, it's usually multiyear contracts. It's usually, having to think about where you're going to be in a few years and having to estimate growth. What are some of those... Isn't that a little scary in having to commit to a roadmap when you don't really know which way the world's going to go and how your product rollouts are going to go? You have to sort of commit to something. And that feels like a very, not a very modern problem, that feels like an old way of managing software and business growth. But you have this unique challenge, so maybe you could talk a little about how your mindset evolved there.

BJ: [00:24:35] Yeah, it can be a little daunting, especially when you're signing three year deals or longer with these companies. But I think also having that stability is nice as well. I think that gives you a little bit of reassurance that you're working with this one partner. And they've got your back. They also want to make sure that you succeed because they want you to go long beyond that initial kind of contract. So I think if you do have those trusted partners that you have those long term deals, it can be actually reassuring in a way as well.

Brian: [00:25:05] It's a really tough thing to do it. You said something earlier that I keep, I've dwelled on since you said it, which is people asking you for advice and the third party validation when making a decision, especially when you're talking about making a long term contract decision of this magnitude. Were there any tools or websites or things that you look to, like Reddit, when you went to go make a decision? We don't have to get into every channel here but what were some of the more valuable channels and maybe what were some of the channels where it was like, actually, that was just like a big waste of time? That just felt like a bunch of noise. What would you want to see out of a channel that doesn't exist? You want to go get advice from someone, how do you go get it? What would your ideal world be there?

BJ: [00:26:10] For sure. Yeah. I mean, I think even just reaching out on LinkedIn, if you know someone works for a company where software is being used, that can be a great tool. It's informal, but a lot of people are quick to respond as well because it's probably on their phone. So you're going to get a pretty quick response there. I think a review site would be helpful, but as we've seen with Yelp and things like that, that can go downhill pretty quickly. So you can't always trust that. But I think a lot of it is building personal relationships, maybe in the industry, informal conversations that you're having as you're considering software. Once you are kind of working in eCommerce, you meet some of the same people over and over again and you build those relationships and you're able to kind of build trust and just something they're going to maybe tell you over drinks is going to be really valuable just in terms of how great a software is and what kind of great growth maybe they've seen from it, just things like that that are really invaluable in terms of thinking about maybe your next step in the next software that you're choosing.

Phillip: [00:27:10] Do you feel like you had any mistakes that you made along the way or areas where you realized that you had to kind of go back and rethink an approach or a decision?

BJ: [00:27:21] Yeah. I think for us, the main one honestly was the expansion into the Chinese market. That was something that we were not really foreseeing. And a few of the integrations that we had chosen didn't work. So then we were having to go and kind of source another software that would either cover both territories or something that would work just in China or just kind of in the US because the goal was to quickly launch that product in China, which we were able to do because we had all of that existing framework. All of that data was mapped in terms of the fit and fabrics and inventory already. And so it was really mostly about building that frontend experience in the Chinese language and the appropriate currency. Separately, we built a WeChat app that people were able to use from home. But in terms of what the stylists were using and what the website looked for, that lift was actually pretty low from what we had built already in the US.

Phillip: [00:28:17] That's a really interesting point and maybe this is a little bit of a detour, but when you're thinking about modern digital commerce doesn't necessarily only happen in a website. How much of the customer experience are you really concerned about delivering in all of these different channels? So WeChat being one of them, but where else are potential pieces of software driving into order management that you have to think about all these different various customer touchpoints?

BJ: [00:28:50] Yeah, there are a lot of areas. I mean, for us we built kind of a unique framework for our customers. So we were really trying to push that omnichannel experience for our customers. So we knew from having these pop-up shops that some customers wanted to start the journey in-store and others wanted to start it online and also be able to easily cross between the two. So what we did when we built our website, we actually built on PWA and built a stylist version of the website so that the stylist would be able to manage customer accounts in-store. And so it'd be really easy if a customer was at home. Maybe they set up an account, they started styling a product, and realized maybe they were in over their head and they wanted some advice from a stylist. They were able to go into the store. The stylist could easily pick up that item, that cart that they've already been working on and modify from there and kind of validate maybe decisions or maybe kind of steer them in a better direction. And then there are other people that wanted to come in-store, maybe just get measurements and that was it. Other people wanted to get styled but then wanted to go home and check with a significant other to be able to approve that purchase, if you will. So just being able to go back and forth was really key for us. And [00:30:08] not every software was going to support that, but it was something that we learned was kind of going to be key to our customer experience that we were offering to be able to really deliver that omnichannel experience for the customers. [00:30:23]

Brian: [00:30:23] And I have been to your store. It is beautiful. Your Boston store, I should say. It was gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous. Are you going to continue to focus on building out in-store? It sounds like the model you've built between physical and digital is sort of aspirational for a lot of brands, actually, the level of detail you've put into it.

BJ: [00:30:49] Yeah. I mean, for us that is a focus. A newer focus for us, which has been interesting, has been sort of a B2B model. So having other mostly small menswear boutiques at this point carry our product. We also have a network of some ambassadors where they're kind of like freelance stylists that work in various cities where we don't have a physical presence. But because of what we've built, we're able to create a stylist version of the website for them very easily with just a few settings, create a login for them, send them some product and swatches, and they're pretty much up and running. So having the flexibility to do that easily was great. You know, having that built into the software already was really, really nice. And that's been able to help grow the business and kind of a unique channel that we maybe weren't anticipating when we started this a few years ago.

Phillip: [00:31:41] The fact that you can have multiple storefronts that serve many use cases and many customer types, including B2B, trade, in-store associate, customer self-service, that is an incredibly modern thing. And that's, I think, [00:31:59] one of the nuances in modern commerce is that you get to this stage of growth where the choices that you make severely feed back into the mindset of how you build your business and they become sort of sympathetic to each other. If, let's say you built your business on a specific cloud eCommerce platform, the things that you then decide to build into your business thereafter become sort of limiting factors almost of the way that you decide to approach decisions and troubleshooting and investment. So if it becomes a really difficult thing to build from an eCommerce perspective, then you don't prioritize it as highly. So having flexibility and being able to build quickly, I think are underappreciated parts of having a software stack. I don't know. I'm just thinking about the way that decisions are made. And if they seem like they have a lot of friction and require a lot of money to solve you don't go that route. And it has everything to do with the software that you choose in 2023. [00:33:18]

BJ: [00:33:18] And it's really important to have buy-in from, or at least awareness from, kind of all the divisions that you're working with. So just something simply as which products you're developing. If it's a really complicated new product that's very different from something you're offering in terms of getting that launched in eCommerce, that's not so simple. For us just how some measurements are taken, like that could be a really simple change that we're making to our experience or something that's very, very complicated. When we launched women's suiting, the measurements there are very, very complex and very different from men's. And that was a bigger lift than maybe someone in the product team would have noticed. But I think if they were a little bit more aware of how everything was set up in terms of the back end of our eCommerce site, maybe they would have made some different decisions in terms of how those measurements were taken or which products we were going forward with next.

Brian: [00:34:10] Thinking about how things interact with each other that way is so essential. And you said something earlier, BJ, about maybe eventually rolling some of this technology stack that you've built out back to Japan. I don't know if you can comment on this at all, but if you have started to think about this, what are some of the things you have to think through when you're reintegrating tech? Japan's got some of their own things in place already. How are you considering the potential roadblocks or potential legacy systems that you're going to have to integrate with if you do roll back some of what you've done?

BJ: [00:34:52] Yeah, it was kind of unique. The reason we had to kind of start from scratch in the US is that the software that they were using in Japan was basically only supported domestically. And so we didn't really have a choice there. We had to build something new. Luckily we picked a lot of software that is supported globally going into this. I think so far we've implemented some of it over there and we've also made, I think, a lot of functional improvements based on things that have worked well in the US. So we've started there, but the sky is really the limit to be able to kind of reposition the Japanese site to where we are in the US.

Phillip: [00:35:33] Well, what's next? You've made all these investments. You've learned a lot about software buying and implementation. Are you in the throes now of just sort of enjoying the fruit of your labor and watching the growth come? Or are there more challenges around the corner that you need to now solve for?

BJ: [00:35:52] I mean, I think at this time we are kind of enjoying where we are, which is nice. Pretty much since we launched, we are launching new products almost every quarter. So we've been really, really busy with adding all of those products into our backend and being able to support them in-store. During the pandemic, we launched casual seating, which was a big offering for us, but super unique. And that was a big project that we worked on. So now I think we're mostly enjoying kind of where we are, but still looking long term to make improvements. I think a big area where we can make improvements is in terms of inventory management, even though it's not your traditional sense of inventory. I think being able to really tie in with our factory systems that we were building into in the first place is going to be really key. We actually own our own factory, which is really unique in most of retail, but really unique in terms of suiting. But what's nice is that I think in the future we'll be able to have a little bit more control over what those systems look like and how they kind of play well, play nice with our existing systems that we have built on the front end as well.

Phillip: [00:37:15] Wow. I love that. And so you've done this. You've built out for yourself what I think very few have been able to do even in, I think, less complicated scenarios. So congratulations on all of the hard work so far. I always ask this sort of at the end, not always on a Step by Step, but we don't often get someone of your caliber talking about the mindset questions of how you approach. If you had to give advice to someone about their future of commerce and the way that they go about sort of building teams, processes, and mental models for buying software, what would be the advice that you would give today to someone now having been through your journey?

BJ: [00:38:01] Yeah, I mean, I think the most important thing, and I touched on this, is really defining your business requirements. I know maybe you cannot get these perfectly defined, but the more that you can, the better off you're going to be. And as I mentioned, getting buy-in from all of the divisions with these requirements is going to be really key because when things are changed or priorities are shifted, it can kind of throw a wrench into maybe the eCommerce stack that you're building.

Brian: [00:38:30] I couldn't agree more with that advice. That is such good advice. Not only figure out what they are but document them and like have them ready. That is phenomenal advice. And it's like back to basics, too. BJ, I feel like you're going to get a lot of LinkedIn messages after this because you're offering really, really good advice. And you've said the best way to make a decision is to talk to someone about it. {laughter} You've opened yourself up here.

BJ: [00:39:05] Yes, I'd rather get LinkedIn messages from people asking for software than some of the bots sending me cold emails about selling software though. So that's okay.

Phillip: [00:39:14] So true. Well, if anyone's building the future of commerce, it's BJ McCahill, the Vice President over at KASHIYAMA. Congratulations on your success and wish you all the best of luck for whatever the future may hold.

BJ: [00:39:26] Thank you so much. It has been great to be here.

Phillip: [00:39:30] Thank you for listening to this episode of Step by Step. This season was brought to you by Adobe Commerce Services. We're so glad for their continued support and partnership. If you want to find more episodes of this podcast and other podcasts, other seasons of Step by Step, as well as our other podcast properties, including Visions and Archetypes and the Infinite Shelf podcast, and of course none other than the Future Commerce podcast. You can find all of that at FutureCommerce.com. We provide insights in your inbox too, twice a week. That's on Wednesday and Friday. The best of what you need to know in predicting the future of retail and eCommerce. You can find that at FutureCommerce.com/Subscribe. We're so proud to have partnered with Adobe. Thank you so much to Adobe for their support and thank you so much for listening to this season of Step by Step.

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