You could boil Sue Beckett’s recipe for her success as an ecommerce leader into one simple tip: Be a little kid.
And you wouldn’t be wrong — although you wouldn’t be completely right, either. But you knew that. Racking up the sort of success enjoyed by the senior vice president of digital marketing and ecommerce at innovative furniture brand Lovesac, takes more than joyful imagination, intense curiosity and constant questioning of everything.
It takes creativity based on experience, the ability to assemble a close-knit team, courage, flexibility, insight, the strength to stand up for your ideas and the wisdom to know when it’s time to change course.
A constant state of evolution and improvement
“My secret is to live in a constant state of evolution and improvement,” Beckett says. “As ecommerce professionals, to be successful, we have to make sure that we are in this constant state of listening and learning, making sure we have our finger on the pulse of change. We’re really fortunate because we get to be storytellers. We get to be data nerds. We get to be techies and creative all at the same time — and always kind of listening for the why from our shoppers.”
- Be a little kid: Always ask why and ask why again.
- Anchor decisions in goals and KPIs: Ecommerce is constantly changing and plans need to change. But ground those moves in company goals.
- Have fun: Humor and fun build better teams and bring joy to a big part of life.
- Don’t fear failure: No one is expected to know it all. Women — who are underrepresented in ecommerce — need to take that to heart.
Beckett shares more of her keys to success in the video below.
Beckett, one of Signifyd’s 2022 Most Influential in Ecommerce, has not only made peace with the constantly changing dynamics of online commerce in the 21st century, she revels in it. It’s why she does what she does. It’s where the being-a-little-kid comes in.
“I always think about thinking about why. As children, we always have this natural curiosity, right? And we’re always asking our parents, why, you know, why is the sky blue? Why is this, why is that? And somewhere along the line we start to lose that a bit, but we shouldn’t.”
“OK. You made this statement about why you want to shop, but why is that?”
Many of us, Beckett included, have had some of that curiosity ground out of us as we grow up — “sometimes because of the answers we get,” she says. But she works at keeping that curiosity going, keeping those questions coming.
The questions are the start
The questions, of course, bring only part of the answer. The digital revolution and evolution of commerce brought with them a host of tools and techniques that build fiber around the bones of in-the-real-world answers.
“It’s one of the most exciting things about being in ecommerce and this industry — it’s ever-changing,” she says.
Beckett has consistently kept up with those changes at Lovesac. Last year, for instance, when the brand launched its Sactionals StealthTech Sound + Charge, a sectional with built-in Harmon Kardon speakers for a surround-sound seating experience, it presented the intersection of innovation and shifting consumer habits.
Consumers are buying more online, an ongoing trend accelerated by the pandemic. But the StealthTech product’s key innovation is built-in sound — something you want to experience before you buy.
“And so,” Beckett asks, “what should the customer experience be online because they can’t hear it?”
Omnichannel selling has taken on heightened importance. So, with the questions, the curiosity, the measurement — company goals and priorities are always in the mix.
Omnichannel needs to be incorporated — inside and out
“I know it’s a buzzword, but thinking about omnichannel and having an integrated showroom and web experience has actually been something that we have taken really seriously,” she says. “And we’ve made incredible strides over the past three to four years to really bridge that gap.”
Not just with how Lovesac engages customers, but internally, in terms of how they compensate associates who are more likely to be involved in sales that started in one place — either in-store or online — and finished in another.
Beckett realizes that she is in a position to influence the coming generation of ecommerce leaders. Again, it’s a part of her role that she embraces.
“As an executive who is a woman, I try really hard to be influential and someone that women can look up to,” she says. “Diversity in leadership positions and having people like you to emulate and to learn from is imperative. I’m so glad that diversity is getting the attention it deserves. If I’ve been able to positively influence other women in any way, I will consider myself successful.”
Her advice for women in ecommerce: Don’t be afraid to fail and speak up.
“Don’t feel like you need to know everything in order to speak up,” Beckett says. “And make sure that your voice is heard because it’s really important to have a lot of different voices in the room and you never know who is looking at you, and who is listening to you, and how you influence them.”
Keeping success and failure in perspective
Beckett works to bring all of the above wisdom and all of herself to her team at Lovesac. She brings her sense of excitement around ecommerce to the team she leads, of course. She encourages them to keep the questions coming. To try new things. She guides the team with the philosophy found in a quote that is often attributed to Winston Churchill.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”
“I try and drive that home” Beckett says, “because you could be successful today, but that may not last, right? And you can fail at something, but that doesn’t mean we’re ruining the business, right? But we have to make sure that we do have the courage to continue because that’s what’s being asked of us. And so prioritize. Fail fast. Make sure that you have the courage to take on new things.”
Which is not to say Beckett approaches every day — or her team — like a war-time prime minister. Underpinning the Lovesac team’s work is a sense that this is a human endeavor and that work should be enjoyable — if not every moment, then on the whole.
“I feel like you’ve got to have fun along the way and have a sense of humor. Because if you are always deadline-pushing your team and you don’t have fun along the way…” she says. “It’s imperative to have fun. It creates a stronger team. People feel more connected.”
Humor and fun, Beckett says, make people feel like they want to be along for the ride.
“And if I show them that I’m enjoying the ride,” she says, “I want them to jump in the convertible with me.”
Photo courtesy of Lovesac
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