Ellos: the ongoing digital transformation of a Swedish home shopping pioneer

Launched in 1947, home shopping powerhouse Ellos Group is a legend in its homeland of Sweden; if Ikea furnished Swedish homes, it is often said, Ellos made sure the Swedes were well dressed.

In recent years, Ellos has successfully transitioned from catalogue sales to online, and today it is the Nordic region’s leading eCommerce group for home furnishings and fashion, operating four distinct brands: Ellos, Jotex, Homeroom and Stayhard.

Ellos Group’s latest project is a transition to the impact.com partnerships automation platform. We sat down with Ellos head of marketing Cédric Ménard and impact.com Nordics country manager Frédéric Taillier to discuss transparency, further European expansion and quality over quantity in the partnerships channel.

Mobile Marketing: Moving into a new year in this late-pandemic phase, what are your current priorities and where do you stand in your key markets?

Cédric Ménard: We are obviously migrating our partnerships to the impact.com platform right now, and were in a digital transformation process, so it’s hard to compare and baseline with the industry, because others are not necessarily on that journey yet and some are very much ahead. But if you just compare figure-wise, we know we are doing a great job. We are collecting our data together, working across our full marketing stack and making very good progress.

Sweden is our primary market and our position there is very strong. We have good penetration in Finland. In Norway, there are some remaining challenges, because Covid resulted in some very aggressive competition. Denmark is our smallest market and we are growing very, very well there, but we still need to work harder to get bigger market share.

Our audience is very niche towards women, with an age group of 30-45 – established women who juggle work and family. Our audience is quite specific, and most of the other companies who aim for that group do it as part of a much wider audience. So none of our competitors is quite like us.

MM: The pandemic period was such a strong one for home shopping. As shops have reopened, have you been able to maintain those gains, or has there been a post-COVID slump?

CM: Of course, it is a challenge to sustain that level of growth, and some parts of the past year have been easier than others. But surprisingly, we managed to overcome it – we did not go into negative growth between COVID and post-COVID, which is very good. Of course, it is not easy to retain all the customers we acquired during COVID – it’s difficult to keep everybody on board, that’s for sure. Some people are still most comfortable going to physical stores. But still, the fact that we increased our CRM database was really beneficial, and that continues to grow. It’s not like we are going back to where we were in ’19.

MM: What is the contribution of mobile to your business, and what are the staples of your marketing?

CM: For sure, mobile accounts for a big amount of our traffic and revenue. Compared to desktop and tablet, the huge majority is from mobile, for sure. In terms of marketing, it is typical eCommerce: Google, Facebook, display, affiliates, influencers.

MM: Specifically in terms of the migration, how is it progressing?

CM: We are still in the middle of digital transformation through the marketing stack, and were making good progress. We have some good learnings but we’re not completely there yet. Its a project that is done through construction. Its not a marketing issue – its a corporate project that everybody should embrace and tackle at the same pace, basically. So it takes a bit more time to finalise the project. But were surprised at the progress with it.

MM: What are the aims of the shift to a partnership automation platform?

Frédéric Tallier: The discussion began around transparency and Ellos’s needs for more of it. I remember when Cedric and I started discussing this, he didn’t have the highest opinion of the affiliate channel and the transparency they had seen up to that point. But what he wanted was an insight into every customer journey, and how that interacts with the other channels. And so that has been very important – the transparency and the flexibility in the platform.

What the platform will give is the possibility for Ellos to tailor each type of partnership – content, influencer, loyalty, coupon – and to monitor them all and see what kind of value they give in the upper funnel. And that helps with contracting in terms of the kind of customers they acquire – whether they’re new customers versus returning – and a lot of other things.

Ellos needs to have a direct relation with each of their partners, to manage and to grow with them and to cut out the middleman. The main goal now is really for Ellos to get a good understanding of the partnership channel and how they can they can grow from it – to not put any limitation on that channel, and to have control of it. Theirs is a very big programme, and it has been a smooth migration.

MM: How big is the programme you are migrating?

CM: We are talking about a few hundred partners. But before we were talking about quantity, and now it is about the quality of the network, and since it is more open and transparent, we can really fine-tune our partnerships. The contribution of our partnerships is increasing on a daily basis, and we are super happy to see that, but we have also been able to be much more picky and granular with our selections and who we want to work with, and that is very much a life-changer.