An exclusive interview with keynote speaker Wil Vivas of Cabela’s ahead of PPS: NYC

Ahead of our next Personalization Pioneers Summit, set to take place in New York City next Tuesday on October 9th, I reached out to one of our featured keynote speakers, Wil Vivas, the eCommerce Manager at popular retailer Cabela’s Canada.

A past attendee turned presenter, I wanted to get a real account of what going to one of our Summits has been like beyond the typical feedback channels. To understand what exactly makes these events so momentous for those operating within the rapidly growing world of personalization and how it’s shaped the way people think about the space, work together, and drive results.

Before his talk entitled, How well-established outdoor retailer Cabela’s Canada stays ahead of the curve, Wil was happy enough to share his experience with our flagship event and what we can look forward to from his presentation…

You were with us at the last Personalization Pioneers Summit in New York City as a regular attendee — this time, you’ll be presenting. How has that influenced the story you’re going to tell, and what can those joining expect from your keynote?

The last summit in New York was really influential in helping us craft our approach to implementing personalization with Dynamic Yield. The wealth of information I downloaded from networking was amazing! I was exposed to so many people from various disciplines at different stages in their personalization journey, all with very different approaches.

But to tell you the truth, I wasn’t always on board with personalization, I went in as a skeptic asking questions about what personalization actually meant, where you even start, and most importantly, what the ROI was. I figured, we knew our customers best, so why leave decision-making to a machine? I call it the blue button vs. red button mentality.

Fast forward six months and our perspective has been completely changed.

We now use Dynamic Yield to power all our site content, are running 50+ active A/B tests (and growing), and have restructured our eCommerce team to focus on personalization.

And that’s what I want to speak to — I want to share our exciting transformation, learnings, and what we got cooking in the lab!

Were there any specific takeaways that resonated with Cabela’s team during the last event, and if so, have you applied them to the way you manage your personalization program or work with Dynamic Yield to date?

Yes, the major takeaways were:

1) Dynamic Yield is a community, not just a tool. So for fellow users, reach out to people and share your thoughts. I’ve kept in touch with a few awesome people from the event who have been super influential in our journey.

A Collaborative Space for Dynamic Yield Experts
Where personalization practitioners from around the globe come to document, learn, and connect with one another.

2) Keep it simple and use the tool is a message that really resonated with me from the talk with Dynamic Yield’s CEO, Liad Agmon. During his presentation, he went into how machine learning is a huge advantage and how its power can be a real multiplier for your team’s capacity, enabling you to get iterating quick, quick, quick!

3) If you can’t find a starting point, look at the data you have available. Mckinsey & Company touched on this important theme about not waiting for perfection. When I came back into the office after the Summit, I wanted to start ASAP but my scientific, responsible mind was fighting me every step of the way. This kept our team stuck in the ideation and design phase, which was impeding us from moving on to the data activation phase. I’ve learned it’s important to have balance, so we often aim to find the quickest entry point to begin crafting an experiment.

4) Use the tool some more! It may sound repetitive but our approach has been speed — my team is small and not resource deep, which has become a key to our success. With Dynamic Yield, we have access to a huge library of out-of-the-box templates, meaning we don’t need to wait for our design team when we can be the design team.

Who are some other brands you are looking forward to bumping into at the Summit — anyone you find particularly innovative and influential? To date, we have attendees joining us from Lululemon, 1800Flowers, Brooklinen, Lands’ End, Uniqlo, Nuts.com, and more! Shout a few out and tell us what they’re really excelling at.

Shout out to Dan Rosenthal from Lands’ End! He was awesome enough to donate some of his time after the event in New York last April. In fact, one of the key conversations highlighted was the critical need to focus resources on personalization. At that time he was hiring for an Email Personalization Specialist and after the conversation we shared, our first Personalization Specialist was promoted.

APMEX is pretty cool too! My team and I were nerding out over their presentation as they’ve got an awesome data stack. I also really love the ways in which they activate on their customer personas, the slickness of their homepage personalization, and how sensitive the algorithm is — it’s super responsive!

I’d be super excited to bump into Sephora as well, who’s recommendation strategy is on point. Oh man, and Nuts.com get really creative with Dynamic Yield. URBN Brands are really mature in their personalization journey. I can go on forever!

Aside from the awesome content being presented throughout the day, what other aspects of the event are you most looking forward to?

Connecting with other users, as I believe it is critical to any company’s success to be part of the larger Community, which is something I cannot stress enough. I love listening to other people’s experiences, the challenges they face, and what their unique vision is.

Anything else we should know before the Personalization Pioneers Summit kicks off in NYC for its second time on Tuesday, October 9th?

I am super excited to present — the Cabelas.ca team has made huge progress in such a small period of time and I feel honored to present the fruits of their labor.

As an aside, the relationship with our Customer Success Manager has been so critical to our success, making the bar Dynamic Yield sets as a partner really high.

We’ll see you in New York!

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