Rodrigo Ribeiro, CIO at Arezzo&Co, gives us a glimpse into the IT processes and culture that have helped drive record e-commerce growth for his company.
Avenue Code: We would like to hear a little more about your career journey so far. How did you become the CIO at Arezzo & Co?
Rodrigo Ribeiro: I’m very passionate about using technology to solve business problems. I started my career as a self-taught developer, searching the internet for tutorials to learn how to develop my first programs. Then I found what I really love to do: leading and developing high-performance tech teams.
For my education, I studied Information Systems and graduated from FGV SP with an MBA in technology and from Stanford with an executive certification focused on innovation and people. After graduating, I worked in retail companies and banks, where I learned about dynamism and agility. I was always very curious, so even in technology, I asked a lot of business questions.
My curiosity opened doors for me, and in every role I adopted the motto of always giving my best and absorbing a lot of information. Today I am where I aspired to be: a CIO at a highly respected company, working in everything tech-related, from the basic infrastructure to the company's strategy, business, value chain, and team development.
AC: Sales in Arezzo's digital commerce have tripled since the beginning of the pandemic. Could you tell us about this process and the strategy you used during the global crisis?
RR: I believe that crises always bring opportunities, we just have to know how to find them. We did not change course with the pandemic; instead, we accelerated. The crisis showed us that the initiatives we were already adopting were on the right track. We had already launched an app that enabled sellers to have access to their customers and to their stores’ stock, to showcase items virtually, and to process payments via WhatsApp. We transformed our salespeople into digital consultants. We had to close stores, but we still managed to sell 105% of same store sales in 2020 for some of our stores that implemented digital commerce. Now this technology is being scaled.
E-commerce has also accelerated a lot. While our customers are still loyal to our physical stores, we’ve added several e-commerce offerings and campaigns like placing and receiving orders on the same day or scheduling product pick up at a trusted store. In addition, we expanded the stores’ inventory to the “infinite” stock on the web, accelerating our digital process significantly. In short, we managed to bring trusted stores into the digital space.
AC: At Avenue Code, the product/user journey is extremely important. We have seen most of our customers paying special attention to this topic in recent years. At Arezzo, the Smart Buyer project restructured the product journey from end to end, using machine learning and analytics, improving product offers in e-commerce. Can you tell us about the importance of this project within the company and how the idea of creating it came about?
RR: We are very concerned with the integration of our entire supply chain, and we regularly discuss digital/supply chain concepts. For example, we have information on consumer behavior related to an enormous collection of products, including what sold well and what didn’t over time. We use this data to help us develop new product collections with more confidence.
Using this data, we developed a solution that, despite being powered by complex AI, produces a simple result - photos of past products detailing their colors, shapes, components, how long they were available, and which promotions were used (if any). This helped us anticipate customer needs and launch new collections every 15 days during the pandemic.
AC: What is your biggest daily challenge in managing remote teams?
RR: I really like human contact, and I miss the informal conversations that naturally arise during in-person collaboration. On the other hand, remote work can boost productivity and improve discipline because there are fewer interruptions. Like many other companies, we transitioned to a remote work model overnight, but we decided that all meetings would be hybrid, both in person and remote.
I really believe in the hybrid model - it requires a lot of discipline and monitoring from the meeting leader. I’ve realized that as leaders, we need to monitor teams closely and focus on results while conducting business in the most human-centered way possible so that employees can comfortably explore problems and solutions.
AC: What are the biggest trends you have seen in e-commerce globally?
RR: It’s essential to talk about e-commerce, but we must also talk about platforms and ecosystems. Leaders need to decide how to position themselves inside an ecosystem to take advantage of it. At Arezzo, we want to be the biggest fashion platform in our marketplace, and part of our strategy involves sponsoring a series of other services, such as curation. There’s a lot on the horizon for us. For example, there’s no reason why the customer shouldn’t be able to use our platform to get help repairing a shoe or learning fashion tips from stylists all over the world.
AC: We know that you have great experience with Agile and innovation processes. Could you tell us how Arezzo utilizes the Agile methodology? Do you have any specific areas for innovation?
RR: We have a scaled Agility model. We took the best practices in the market and created our A.T.O. (Agile Transformation Office). In this group, we have a senior manager who takes care of organizational agility together with our people management team, which is responsible for culture change related to technology, strategy, and operations using OKRs. In this way, we define the team according to the strategy, and we measure the maturity of the teams to determine where they should be placed in projects, because team maturity is related to delivering a business value proposition. When we create new teams, we’re looking not only at agility, but also security.
Regarding innovation, we have our in-house ZZ LABS, which is a squad that has a method for innovating and prototyping solutions quickly. We have groups of teams, so we run innovation cycles, define what we’re prototyping and testing, and then we rotate teams to give everyone the opportunity to innovate. At ZZ LABS, we believe that innovation is everyone’s competence and shouldn’t be relegated to only one team, so we equip everyone with the tools to innovate.
AC: How is Arezzo dealing with strategic partnerships focused on IT?
RR: We have a well-balanced mix between interns and third parties in all segments of infrastructure, from basic development to strategic consulting. We have a structure within the IT governance that manages our partners. On the development side, we select fewer partners who are very high quality; this helps us facilitate management, scale, reduce costs, add quality, and increase maturity. We’re always open to selecting new partners according to meritocracy.
AC: Could you tell us about something you did or a project you participated in that you are very proud of?
RR: I have participated in a few projects that made purely utilitarian technology an enjoyable experience. These technologies created great value for the company by solving business problems, and at the same time, the teams I managed grew in their ability to innovate.
For example, I worked with the municipality of Campo Bom to develop a program to apprentice young people who don’t have a career direction yet: we gave them the challenge of solving a problem, and because of this, they fell in love with big data analytics. The program has grown a lot, and I feel like an influencer for people who need career direction. I have a dream that our technology area will be the best to work at in the state or in Brazil as a whole. These projects give me great satisfaction.
AC: Thank you for your time today, Rodrigo. It’s been fascinating to get an inside look into IT at Arezzo.
Andressa Lopes is the Inside Sales Lead at Avenue Code. She loves to talk to people and create new possibilities. She is also crazy about plants and piano.