Linnworks – Announcing A New Mission

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David Brackin is the managing director of Stuff U Sell, the leading eBay trading assistant in the UK and a regular Tamebay contributor. David reports on Linnworks found Callum’s presentation at today’s Linn Academy

The Linnworks Academy has long-since established itself in the ecommerce calendar and has grown into a major event – from a small room in Reading to filling the Vox in Birmingham, and it has every sign of having to find even larger premises in the future.  Much like Catalyst, it’s not just for Linnworks users but covers all aspects of ecommerce.

The day started off with a change.  For the past seven years, we’ve become accustomed to seeing Linnworks founder Fedor lead with his insights into the Linnworks product and where it is going.  However this year the conference started with some opinions on the fundamentals of brand from the Callum Campbell.  Callum is the new Linnworks CEO and his appointment quietly happened late last year and since then he’s been working in the business to think about branding and how Linnworks needs to change.

Callum drew on Jeff Bezos’ aphorism that brand is what other people say about you when you’re not there, and his fundamental belief is that great brand does not come from a logo or advertising but from great customer experience, and a mission which runs through the organisation like the words through a stick of rock.  He drew on the famous Ritz Carlton example from 2012 about a child’s lost toy.

It’s clear that there has been a sea-change at Linnworks with Callum’s appointment.  Linnworks has long been a very strongly technically-led organisation, but perhaps has lacked a strong central ethos.  Now it has grown, part of the stage of maturing is to bring a larger organisation along on the journey, and to communicate to an increasingly large customer base what exactly it stands for.  Callum makes the valid point that without explicitly stating a mission and ensuring every single employee uses it to make daily, it will ultimately lose its way and fail to attract customers.  So he is proud to announce a new mission for Linnworks:-

“To help people sell better so they can have more freedom in their business and their life.”

It wasn’t all change today, however, and Fed, now freed up to perform his more natural role of architect, came to the stage to elaborate further on what this mission means to him.  Hearing him speak about how – for him – poor user experiences are not just poor programming but are positively inhumane, really brought the idea to life.  For him, the mission is about human-centred computing which comes from three attitudes when he develops: “be the customer” – meaning to code from the point of view of how good the customer experience is, rather than how beautiful the code is; “relish feedback” – not just the praise which we all enjoy, but the less comfortable news which is the only thing which drives learning; and finally to always ask, as a techie, “what is my brand” at every point of development.

This opening keynote neatly summarised the essential dilemma at Linnworks.  The challenge that it has always faced as it has grown and succeeded is whether it could clone Fedor and leverage the technical excellence at the heart of the organisation before its size and supporting processes diluted that experience for the end-user.  Callum’s mission statement and the associated rebranding to draw a line under the old regime is a bold attempt to solve this problem.  Has it captured the right mission and is it phrased is succinctly?  Will the organisation be broken to the mission or will the mission be broken by the organisation?  Will this excite and engage customers?  None of us know the answer yet, but it’s clear that it’s a valuable and essential first step that Linnworks have taken.



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