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The future of retail: transforming D2C brand experience  



  • Experience Elevation
  • Commerce Acceleration
  • Data Evolution
  • Enterprise Transformation


  • commercetools
  • MACH

Get to know Mars


Founded in 1911, Mars is a multinational leader and manufacturer in several industries, including pet services with Mars Petcare, food and nutrition with Mars Food and Mars Edge, and confectionery with Mars Wrigley. In 2022, Mars was ranked the fourth largest privately held company in the United States by Forbes.

Mars was ready for a digital transformation that would meet the FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) market’s D2C imperative. Brands worldwide are looking to transition to D2C to create new revenue streams and directly build strong customer relationships through diversified experiences.

With M&M’S as the first to undergo this transformation, Mars aimed to create stellar experiences for their customers across all their brands and reached out to Valtech to achieve this goal.

Creating multi-brand D2C architecture

The challenge

Recognizing the opportunity in the present landscape, Mars reached out to Valtech to level up its D2C commerce model. The goal was to allow each of its individual brands to keep pace with customer expectations regarding their shopping experiences and capitalize on new revenue opportunities at speed.

The objective was to create a multi-brand digital solution, and an ever-evolving omnichannel commerce ecosystem that is infinitely scalable. Mars is an incredibly diverse group, and we wanted to be able to go across portfolio brands and expand the reach of this opportunity. Through omnichannel unification, any touchpoint would become a point of transaction, with proper support built behind it all.

Our ecosystem and business strategy were set, and we began this multi-brand journey in partnership with M&M’S. Their existing brand loyalty and brand recognition, combined with the ambition and vision of “Digital Re-imagine", helped us conceive a new digital experience universe championing fun. For M&M’S, and for the wider strategy, we chose to truly realize:

  • First-party access to customer data, made available for digital activation

  • Priority for the unmet customer needs

  • D2C integration back into their core business

  • Anchoring of teams around our clear business outcomes

  • Preparation for the omnichannel endgame (connected stores, third party-partnerships, loyalty, fan communities and more)

Shift to D2C: a comprehensive composable commerce solution

The solution

Brand loyalty is the main objective of this strategy. Direct consumer relationships are important, and Mars wanted to be able to create and strengthen that community. Consumers are more loyal to brands that feel personal and relatable, and that can also maintain market relevance and cater to the growing demographic of the younger generation. Mars also wanted to prioritize ethical and societal values throughout this strategy.

To help realize these ambitions, we formulated the plan, architecture and governance of an affordable, scalable, global D2C platform for all of Mars’ brands. It couldn’t be cookie-cutter and applied widely, it needed to be a composable solution to the actual problems and needs of each brand. It was also made scalable and manageable, which speaks to the maturity of the framework and strategy. We chose a value-oriented incremental delivery approach to foster strong collaboration and ensure the longevity of the strategy.

As we attempt a company-wide digital transformation, composable is perfect for delivering bite-sized capabilities that can be flexed or reconfigured depending on the needs of the wider business or individual brand. While we initiated it with a D2C mindset, this approach can be applied to any business model looking to get closer to the consumer, faster. This model should also inspire other organizations to accelerate their own journeys to great experiences through composable.

- Shubham Mehrish, VP Digital and Platforms, Mars


What is Digital Re-imagine?

The first of many brand initiatives, as mentioned, was with M&M’S. A new vision was launched, “Digital Re-imagine," with a deeply personal and celebratory perspective. It aimed to first and foremost deepen relationships with and between consumers. It presented a new brand purpose, a new cast of characters, and an evolved visual identity. This formed the foundation of a brand platform creating a world where everyone feels they belong, an important aspect of the experience. New features included a gifting program, with the intention to celebrate everyday moments and establish M&M’S as part of the culture.

This initiative had great potential to realize Mars’ omnichannel vision and we are currently developing the retail experience that will fulfill that potential. This goal required a MACH approach to marry a buy-and-build philosophy and focus on how to highlight each brand’s uniqueness.

For the M&M’S brand in particular, Mars and Valtech built some unique pieces of architecture, such as the “Design Your Own” program that allows consumers to create customized M&M’S, among other new features. Most of the user journey is all about personalizing M&M’S, which made this unique configurator experience an important piece that Mars wanted to own and make as frictionless as possible. In other less unique areas, such as content management and ecommerce engine, they found off-the-shelf software – Amplience and commercetools respectively – making their own investments in innovation to support the project.

Integrating a scalable platform across brands

The results

Since starting the engagement in December 2021, Valtech has delivered a new, re-imagined for M&M’S with unique features and integrations.

More broadly, Valtech and Mars, along with commercetools, collaborated to create one of most comprehensive examples of composable commerce in play for multi-brand enterprises going D2C. By transitioning to a composable commerce architecture, Mars has proven how a composable approach can facilitate commerce innovation and deliver unique customer experiences across brands and channels.

As a result of this solution, the biggest Mars D2C brand saw a considerable cart-to-checkout improvement, a 20% sales uplift, and approximately 20% page speed improvement. In the first three months of its launch, M&M’S saw a 10% increase in year-over-year Average Order Value.

This has allowed M&M’S to enhance the digital experience for their consumers. The scalable nature of the solution also allows it to be applied across Mars brands. This future-fitting architectural approach allows Mars to break new ground in how they operate and grow, giving them the freedom to differentiate brand offerings while maintaining overarching brand cohesion.

Looking ahead

More Mars brands will be joining this omnichannel ecosystem. Mars and Valtech will expand on this solution to different types of businesses to include D2C and B2B. M&M’S will develop a strategic roadmap for geographical omnichannel expansion and an in-store companion app to have more touchpoints with the consumer and break into potential net new markets.

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