Businesses are undergoing major transformations today. These include globalization, new technologies, growing demand to change business practices, increased pressure to build next-gen products, and many more. The key challenges among these are technological disruption and changed consumer behavior. A visionary who promises revolutionary engineering for delivering exceptional customer experience in the coming years is Jan Heere.
Jan is the CEO of Studio Moderna, the leading home and living omnichannel e-commerce and direct-to consumer retailer in CEE. His journey in retail started in Inditex, the biggest fast fashion group in the world which is most widely known through its brands Zara and Massimo Dutti. After working in leadership positions on international level for 4 years, he took over Zara’s operations in Russia and the CIS region. Under his leadership, Zara built a business from $42 million into a $1 billion sales within just five years. In 2011, Jan moved to Marks & Spencer where he led the development of innovative business concepts among which was one of the first e-boutiques in the world.
His background of working and living in more than 10 countries in the last 15 years helped him develop just the right mindset to thrive when faced with great challenges.
A Real Digital-First Approach
Just like his experience in developing Zara in the CIS region, his learning at Studio Moderna is propelling him to new heights. His team at Studio Moderna is building thousands of digital touchpoints to drive digital mobile commerce, with the mission to inspire and enhance the customers’ everyday lives and wellbeing through their trusted proprietary home & living brands.
Studio Moderna is operating on 20 markets in CEE and Russia, and one of the most important focuses for the group is the transformation into a truly digital company with e-commerce as the number one channel. “In our region we have seen very high growth of internet penetration already before the pandemic which has clearly demanded an effective shift in approach to digital-first when driving our amazing brands,” Jan says. To stay relevant in the eyes of the consumers, Studio Moderna started its transformation journey to reinvent the way it works and adapt to changed consumer needs. “The new engagement models in the digital sphere are transforming online shopping and customer expectations. We have seen strong development of live streaming in China and it is becoming very relevant for Studio Moderna. In the next three-to-four years, it will be big everywhere,” Jan predicts.
The retail industry has been undergoing a radical shift over the past few years, retailers are increasingly under pressure to deliver an experience which is more than just shopping for products. “In the past we went to a store to pick up a product, and then discovered and used it at home. Today, you first research the product online, discover it at the store, and understand it in-depth already while shopping,” Jan notes. He believes that elements of replenishment, stock availability and conversion cannot be the main business focus anymore. Studio Moderna team works tirelessly to build live streaming and other innovative digital solutions, moving from a more transactional strategy into more information-based product experiences to cater to changing needs of consumers.
As consumers increasingly embrace sustainability, environmental responsibility, and social causes, they seek brands that align with their values. “Every brand needs to think about making a positive contribution to the society, this is the need of the hour in the whole industry,” says Jan. He thinks that creating a retail model that is sustainable below and above the line in a 360-degree approach, would be the biggest revolution we can make. This is probably one of the biggest challenges we’ll be facing in the coming years.
A Leadership Mantra Ingrained in Experience
E-commerce is the way of the future, and Studio Moderna is ideally placed to capture this digital transformation. The business was established 3 decades ago as a DRTV business model and has over the years grown into the multichannel direct-to-consumer retailer with a portfolio of proprietary home and living brands, widely known and trusted across the CEE region. Today, under Jan’s leadership, Studio Moderna is leading an amazing transformation to become a digital-first platform to make a real difference in providing exceptional customer experience.
“Today retail growth is basically driven by e-commerce, and e-commerce is driven by mobile-first approach which is used by customers to engage with brands and products,” Jan says. “But I think this is the constant across the industry. What maybe is interesting to highlight in our case, is that we are adapting in current digital revolution while coming from a DRTV business, knowing that TV today might not be as strong element for the younger generation as it was in the past. We’ve embarked into live streaming on digital platforms, and this is the way we believe how customers will continue to be interested in our content and products. It will be done through an on-demand platform and in a much more engaging way of presenting product and communicating with customers,” Jan says.
Jan is convinced that creativity, passion, and a transformative culture in general, are key to succeeding in business. The pandemic applied pressure on businesses to increase productivity and brought new challenges in communication, which hadn’t been anticipated before. “During such hard times, entrepreneurship, creativity, and passion for consumers are key in driving cultural change,” he says.
The Future Roadmap
Jan’s vision is to double the size of the company in the next five years. He believes this is the next chapter in the success story of Studio Moderna. It may sound like an ambitious goal, but because of his keen insights and experience in retail, digital transformation, and development of iconic brands, it is certainly not unreachable.
“There are a lot of innovations in how businesses today tackle retail. To be able to grow, everyone must consider new expectations like digital transformations, Gen Z culture patterns, and the conversation around sustainability. Digitalization is definitely the way forward, and digital channels like live streaming will continue to deliver tremendous rewards for brands,” Jan says. “Thanks to the understanding of major challenges retailers face today in a traditional brick and mortar world, and leading the digital transformation, our team is built to create real value for our customers in the future.”