Back Market is an online marketplace for refurbished technology with a mission to reduce electronic waste by encouraging people to rethink their technology consumption.
Back Market operates in 13 countries including many regions of Europe, Asia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Paris, France, Back Market has successfully raised over $1 billion in 6 funding rounds (the latest in 2022 from a Series E round).
The team was composed of 5 backend developers and an engineering manager, all of whom have been within the company for a few years. There was a communication gap regarding the technical work done, leading to a lack of understanding and trust from both management and stakeholders about the progress being made.
The former Product Manager had moved to another team internally and the team was in need of a professional with a solid background to understand complex technical topics and strong product management skills to conduct discovery and uncover new opportunities.
When we started the team’s main focus was on technical aspects, and stakeholders felt that their needs weren’t getting enough attention. We stepped in to bring a more balanced and strategic approach, making sure to address not only the technical challenges but also give a voice to the stakeholders and explore the user needs. This approach helped us to turn things around and create a more positive and productive environment.
The champion’s expectations included a strategic approach that involved developing a product vision, building a product roadmap, and conducting strategic reviews. Technical skills required included understanding of product data ingestion, good analytic skills, and mastering product discovery, with tasks ranging from gathering user feedback, writing detailed user stories for the engineering team, setting key success metrics, managing dependencies and coordinating launches with relevant stakeholders. Soft skills such as leadership, communication, and organization were also crucial, as we were expected to lead the team, align stakeholders, run product meetings, and deliver a discovery project to C-levels.
Being the backbone of the Back Market, the Catalog Integration team collaborated with multiple product development teams. When the previous Product Manager transitioned to a different department within the company, we swiftly stepped in to support this team by defining roles, vision, and responsibilities aligned with their mission requirements.
The Catalog Integration team consisted of six members, with one member serving as the Engineering Manager and the remaining five as developers.
In collaboration with our developers, we actively engaged with over 10 stakeholders from various teams. Our rapid integration into the mission was highly successful, culminating in us becoming the primary point of contact for stakeholders by the end of the month.
First Deliverables and Results
In a world driven by technology and data, the success of a company often depends on its ability to manage product information efficiently and effectively. However, even the most seasoned teams can find themselves entangled with technical tasks, losing sight of the bigger picture.
Upon our arrival, the team was deeply engaged in a significant technical undertaking: the migration of an in-house PIM to a third-party software.
📚 **PIM: (**Product Information Management) is a system that helps companies to centralize, organize, and manage all product-related information, including product descriptions, technical specifications, prices, and availability, across multiple channels.
This focus seemed to inadvertently steal attention from other aspects of the product, such as discovery, user needs, and strategic documentation. For instance, there was not a well-defined understanding of the user base, the product documentation was lacking, and the existing roadmap was centered around technical aspects and difficult to understand for the average stakeholder.
Recognizing the need for a more holistic and strategic approach, we initiated a product discovery effort. This involved identifying our users, mapping their journey, and pinpointing their pain points using data analysis, user interviews, and surveys.
Then, we mapped existing initiatives to those opportunities or explored new solutions where no initiatives existed, leading cross-functional workshops for solution definition and design.
A critical aspect of our approach was aligning on a meaningful north star metric with our stakeholders, and pushing to have it created and easily accessible with the product analytics team. Prior to this, the main metric used was a “vanity metric” that could be easily manipulated and improved without bringing any real value to the user.
We also aligned dependencies with other product teams and several stakeholders for a portfolio of initiatives. This involved exploring feasibility, validating the issues, and collaboratively developing and implementing solutions.
Thanks to our concerted efforts, the average time between the first data ingestion and the successful completion of the ingestion was halved. We ensured continuous transparency by documenting our roadmap on Confluence and regularly sharing any updates to it with stakeholders and management.
We also created a product vision aligned with the commercial, design, and development team: we analyzed in depth our users and their needs, created a SWOT analysis for our team, reviewed our product in comparison to our competitors, identified our vision and mission and documented our work, ending with vision and mission statements that could easily be shared across the company.
Finally, we defined long-term initiatives with the potential to save the company a significant amount of money.
This journey was not just about solving immediate technical challenges but transforming the way the team approached product management. By shifting the focus from purely technical tasks to a more strategic, user-centered approach, we were able to create a product vision, align stakeholders, address user needs, and ultimately deliver more value to both the users and the business.
💡 Successfully reduced the average time for successful data ingestion by 50% in the June-August period after joining in May, compared to the preceding March-May period
💡 Conducted product discovery and uncovered new opportunities to further improve ingestion.
💡 Developed a strategic long-term product vision that would result in significant cost savings for the client.
Client extended our initial contract.