As the Chief Digital Officer, I put myself in the customers’ shoes, making sure I understand the customer’s journey, understand the pain points and broken touch points. The customer journey entails everything, from the time they see e.l.f. Beauty in an ad to walking into a store or clicking through our website online and it’s essential that we’re aware of how our customers engage with such touch points. Another aspect of my role is overlooking what I call “the plumbing.” I think of plumbing as infrastructure, security, data privacy and other aspects of technology management. Overall, it’s about keeping an eye on the customers’ needs while also ensuring that we have the right tool set, platform, and security so customers feel good about trusting us with their data. Keeping an eye on both these aspects allows us to create something that is exceptional for the customer while also being scalable. I think the best part of this job is that I get to think of both – experiences and plumbing. We have big ideas, but we also have a fiduciary responsibility toward our investors and customers so it’s about meeting in the middle.
I break it down and think of it this way:
I take a pragmatic approach and think of the basic ABC’s – things that have to be done versus things that will evolve over time because of changing technology.
There’s a blurry line between the two. I think traditional CIOs are so well-suited to be a CDO, but where they might get stuck is the plumbing because they don’t tread both. The distinction to me is simple: Thinking of aspects like governance, performance, and capability to move fast. What are you going to build in your infrastructure that allows you to move fast?
We think of ourselves as the OG digital disruptor because we started premium cosmetics for $1 back in 2004, when e-commerce wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today. It took some real visionaries to be able to make this happen 19 years ago, and that OG startup mentality is what guides us today. Today, we're a big company with a $7 billion market valuation, but we’re small in the sense we only have about 350 employees, which is mind blowing.
As far as keeping our sensibility the same over all these years, every time we derail or do something new, we reflect on who we are and what’s in our DNA. We think of ourselves as one team and one dream, and believe in being agile, pivoting with the times, and moving at elf speed.
The in-person experience can never truly be replicated so you have to be able to augment that with the capabilities on your site, mobile, and app. For instance, virtual try on is a good example of how we bridge the gap. Our virtual try-on feature which allows people to try on lipsticks or even a full face of makeup virtually was very popular during COVID when everyone was home, but still continues to be popular today.
The second component is education. For instance, you’re in a store looking at a product, but want to find more information on it, you’re looking for the ingredients. So, it’s about how you make it seamless so that customers can easily look things up online while holding a product. That stands true even if a customer has purchased a product and they still want to look into information from a digital experience.
Another thing we focus on is offering good loyalty programs. Consumers can buy things anywhere, be it on Amazon or Walmart, but as long as they scan their receipts and become members, we now have insight into customers who are not directly engaging with us online. It’s about building services that allow you to build the gap between physical and digital experiences.
Our vision is to create a different kind of beauty company by building brands that disrupt norms, shape culture, and connect communities through positivity, inclusivity and accessibility, and I see that again and again. A big part of our DNA is purpose, so when we stand for something, we don’t stand for it because it’s trendy or cool. We stand for it because it’s in DNA. We think about everything we do – content, messaging, creativity, the causes we support, and even the AI and overall technology we use and ensuring that the bias doesn’t exist. We listen to the community, and our community is bold, so if we do something wrong, they let us know. Our CMO reads every social media message and ensures we’re not saying or doing things that don’t line up with our purpose.
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