E-commerce is a game of continual adaptation. Customer needs and preferences change, and you need to evolve to meet them. Choosing the right technology that enables you to innovate and stay nimble is key — but far from simple.
Bettina Donmez, PUMA’s Senior Manager of E-Commerce Platform Development, knows this first-hand. She’s been leading the evolution of PUMA’s Frontend tech stack since August 2020. We sat down with her to find out more about her challenges and motivation at the world’s third-largest sportswear manufacturer.
At PUMA, I was brought in to help show that we can use the latest technology to make everyone’s lives easier. To rebuild all the systems people knew, and to make sure there was no major resistance to adopting new tools and new vendors. How can we build stuff that people look for in traditional CMSes, while still doing everything differently?
I’m the one looking for the different use cases Sanity can help us with at PUMA. Now that we have Sanity — this fancy new toy — what can we do with it? What dreams can we fulfill with this tool?
In retail, you have some huge events that people get really excited about. For example, we recently organized a huge show at New York Fashion Week. Our ambassadors were on stage, wearing current and future PUMA products.
But what’s remarkable to me is not that we do all that in that single week. It’s what we do afterward. The party is just the start. Remarkability comes from knowing how to put it all together before, during and after the key moment.
How do we structure the content we’ve seen there — all the different ambassadors, brand initiatives, shoes, and apparel that they’re wearing — so it can become consumable and digestible for the end consumer?
If we think of content pieces as building blocks, it means we can use each block again and again. Depending on what you want to communicate, you can spin up a full e-commerce page or a purely merchandised product listing page that speaks about related products we have at the fashion show. The possibilities are endless.
It’s all about creating a space and channel for anyone who wants to interact with the brand and ensuring that they’re going to see the same content elements but arranged for them when they interact with us.
When we bring in someone new, they can easily pick up Sanity in two days. But we’re trying to change the behaviors of people who are used to existing ways of doing things.
People have certain ways of thinking about life. It’s like driving to work. Maybe we use the same road to drive to work, even if it takes us through villages, which is not as convenient. What if someone came in and said, “We built a bridge! Now you can take the highway to work!”
Those people would say, “But I’m used to taking the road and I like it. There are flowers there. And this seems hard — how will we get everyone onto the highway smoothly?”
Sanity, to me, is the highway with more efficiency for all while keeping some of the best of the existing ways of working that Sanity didn’t know we wanted. The struggle with anything new, a road or software, is change management.
The reason I can dream and continue to advocate for a brighter digital future is because I know what structured content can do and digital teams are ready for it.
People want technology that is simple to use. ”Simple to use” means we put a lot of time, money, and brainpower into it behind the scenes, so people aren’t frustrated and hopefully like to use it.
Sanity helped us go through a content modeling exercise to build a structure for all of PUMA’s website and app content, with content types, fields, design elements, and other metadata. For any organization, the structured content model is the secret sauce powering the customizability and automation of digital experiences.
To support that ecosystem, on my team, we produce documentation for technical and business users. We have a Sanity Review Council where we have conversations about the architecture of our content and how we want to model that content before anything new gets added in. We are business user-focused and developer-focused. We have what we need, but continue to update our content model regularly as we learn more and find limits. Self-discipline is the meta-layer that makes this evolution possible.
Structured, connected content is useful in any industry and makes so much sense for retail. Everything in retail is centered around a product with a unique ID. You can structure all of your content in relation to product IDs.
This product ID focus makes it easy for the business user to understand. They don’t see how everything is connected behind the scenes, but it feels simple. You input a product with an ID, and the CMS shows you all the structured content you have available for that ID. Experiences can be manually or automatically created for that ID. You make use of your design system, to ensure auto-generated experiences are consistent with the brand and visual guidance. And that’s powerful.
With Sanity, your content editor interface is called a Studio which is truly headless, the UI for editors is separate from the Sanity database and API layer. This gives you the freedom to make the CMS fit our new and existing ways of working while we move forward. You could have multiple studios to give different roles a more useful interface. It’s all possible. You choose!
As an example, because PUMA launches many campaigns for its products, seasons or special sporting and fashion events, the team needed to be able to group all these different types of content by marketing campaign. PUMA had worked this way before and wanted to continue so Sanity made data grouping by campaign possible for the first time (none of their other CMS customers needed this) so we could ingest and then shape the data in the Sanity Studio content editor. We were able to set up access controls so that only qualified content managers could work on campaigns.
Sanity enabled us to create one global, single home for all PUMA content that can eventually be used in every market. Instead of operating the digital properties with independent CMSes, multiple regions or subsidiaries can now share one multi-tenant SaaS CMS instance with shared support and roadmap.
I’m proud to be a change agent for headless technologies. We have a headless DAM, a headless CMS, a headless Frontend in React, and a React-native shopping app. It all started with that very first MVP with Formidable and Sanity. It was something we built in 16 weeks.
In a year and a half, we’ve gone from that MVP to having something we can use in many regions for web and app. This is the foundation for building modern digital experiences.
Nobody can do it on their own. You need those partners. You need those plugins. You need those vendors and other third-party tooling that can integrate and create something sophisticated.
There are so many exciting combinations that E-commerce and Marketing can create with this tech stack. You just need to choose which direction to go in. Do you want to do omnichannel? Multichannel? Do you want to do one for all, or many for many? It’s all possible with a data structure that is infinitely scalable and instantly converted to APIs.
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With a flexible structured content platform, there's no limit to what you can build and achieve. Sanity treats content as data, enabling your team to launch new projects, iterate, and innovate faster than ever before.