How we’re taking product to the next level in 2019
- Johannes, you joined Delivery Hero as Chief Product Officer in October. Can you tell us where your passion for product comes from?
For me product is a unique blend of technology, design, consumer behavior, business and leadership. This mix is what makes product so exciting for me. Product is a challenging field: you need to constantly find your way through this wild maze of choices, opportunities, distractions and diversions, cleverly leveraging data and creative problem solving along the way. I honestly think it’s the best job in the world.
- Speaking of the past, do you remember the first e-commerce transaction you ever made? How did your order behavior change over the years?
My first transaction was sometime in the late 1990s, I believe a book I ordered from the predecessor of Amazon in Germany. Twenty years later my family of five is making several hundred ecom transactions every year. Lumped together, all the transactions through the apps on my phone’s home screen probably represent the biggest spending category for me, besides rent. And the offline-to-online shift in consumer spending is still accelerating for most consumers.
- Digitization is rapidly changing customer behavior. How will product in general adapt in order to build a better customer experience in the future?
Sustainable product leadership requires a disciplined culture of experimentation and testing. For example, the only way to really understand new user interfaces like voice ordering or virtual reality is to actually build and test them for your vertical and business model. Only then can you confidently say “no” to a hype, because you understand first-hand the subtle limitations and barriers to scaling your business model. “Build and test“ can also enable you to patiently continue investing when competitors give up or don’t invest at all, because you really understand the potential of the work you’re doing.
- Having a Chief Product Officer and a Chief Technology Officer, there can be some confusion as to who is responsible for what. How would you describe, in your own words, how you set meaningful boundaries between these two positions?
In general, the CPO is responsible for the “What”, and the CTO for the “How”. Of course reality is more nuanced. In our day-to-day work we’re a great team and bring in different perspectives on the same topic, that’s really important. Very often you just need different viewpoints and approaches, perhaps even some friction, to arrive at the best possible solution.
Personally, I really enjoy working with Christian [Hardenberg, CTO – see our interview]. We have worked together in the past and I look forward to continuing the collaboration!
- What’s the most important aspect of product success to focus on in the future?
One particularly important aspect is frequency, in other words how often customers use our product. By driving frequency you can create customer habits that in turn establish a very robust competitive advantage. In practice this means to constantly pursue excellence in the core of your customer experience while also always exploring additional use cases for your product.
- Delivery Hero is a multi-platform company spread across more than 40 countries. How do you feel about the complexity involved?
Our setup enables us to have products that are incredibly close to our customers, unlike hyper-centralized technology companies. We benefit from incredibly strong entrepreneurs and product teams that build powerful solutions that are 100% adapted to local markets. But at the same time we can also unlock synergies by building global services and platforms for key enablers of our business model, like logistics and personalization, and deploy them in different regions.
- What does our international setup mean for your team, from a product perspective?
Extreme diversity and a truly global perspective. For example, a few weeks ago our global product leaders met for several days in Prague to share learnings and mutually challenge our product roadmaps. The diverse pool of knowledge and experience we tap into when have such gatherings is truly amazing. Our products are shaped by people who work and live in our markets. This is a powerful competitive edge we have over many other companies that are building one-size-fits-all products.
- How will you make sure that Delivery Hero continues its path of success in the upcoming years?
We’re working from a strong competitive position. We’re number one in most of our markets and have a strong product vision. In the coming years we will continue to focus on winning new customers as well as carefully broaden the experience for our existing customers, so food ordering becomes an everyday habit.
- How often do you order food and what’s your favourite cuisine?
I’m ordering nearly every day. Korean food is my favorite cuisine, just because of Bibimbap, a dish consisting of a warm rice bowl with sautéed vegetables, chilli paste, and other toppings.
- How do you see the future of food delivery?
Most people have around 30 breakfasts, 30 lunches, and 30 dinners every single month – plus snacks and coffee. Only very few business models have such a high potential number of transactions per month. This means we’re only scratching the surface.