DFDS.com relaunched

Remote working didn’t hold back major relaunch of dfds.com that now features improved navigation, usability, transparency and a lightning fast experience.

At 16:25 on Thursday, 26th March, the dotcom team successfully went live with a major relaunch of our global web site. The new site features:

  • Improved navigation
  • New templates
  • Improved usability and transparency for choosing country

But the main story is largely invisible and has to do with how quickly the pages load. It’s too early to have precise data on the long-term improvement in loading times, but if you take a few moments to visit the web site on your phone or PC, you’ll get a lightning fast experience.

This video shows the difference in speed between the new site on the left and the old site on the right. Users now experience the page loading in around 1 second, compared to an average of about 6 seconds previously.

Dagny Lydsdottir, Product Owner, explains why this is so important. “Over the last 12 months, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of visits from mobile devices. Nowadays, most of the visitors to our site are viewing it on a mobile phone, and not always on a fast connection. So it’s really critical that the content loads quickly, as we know that one of the main reasons that people drop out of a web site is because they can’t wait for the page to load. If our site is faster than our competitors’, then more visitors will stay and buy or book something with us.”

This speed is the result of using a tool called Gatsby (https://www.gatsbyjs.org/) to pre-create pages and then cache or save them on our Content Delivery Network in the cloud, so that each individual site visitor gets the page instantly. Konstantin Dichev has been the main driving force on the development team for the adoption of Gatsby, and he’d love to tell you more about it in great technical detail, so please contact him if you want to know more.

As always, there’s a large number of people to credit when we launch something as fundamental as this, and our thanks go to the core team of Caroline Lehmann Nelsen, Dagny Lydsdottir, Frederik Zillmer,

Igor Pluznikov, Jannik Staunstrup Nilsson, Jeppe Engell Hansen, Konstantin Dichev, Murat Ayik, Sia Gythfeldt, Aleksandr Dubinskiy and Sami Maher Dieb. We’re also grateful for the close and productive collaboration with our DIO colleagues and Business Drivers, especially James Butler and Liam Coulson in Passenger Marketing, and finally as always to the long-suffering and ever helpful Fadrique Avalle-Arce, our webmaster.

Astrid Illum appointed Head of Product & Digital Analytics

Astrid Illum

As of February 2020, Astrid Illum will take a new role in the Digital department. Previously responsible for digital analytics, Astrid will now extend her role to take responsibility for the digital product portfolio and roadmap. As Head of Product & Digital Analytics, Astrid will be the DIO for Digital & Marketing, and will manage the team of product owners who drive the development of our digital customer experience on DFDS.com, related booking applications and the DFDS mobile app.

“The work we do with our digital customer experience needs to be data-driven, so it is excellent that we have someone like Astrid, with a deep expertise in analytics, to take responsibility for the product portfolio,” says Sophie-Kim Chapman, Vice President, Digital & Marketing. “As one of the current Horizon talents, Astrid has always had a broad, strategic grasp of our Digital objectives, and now has also had the opportunity to extend her knowledge of DFDS’s business, and to work on commercial and strategic case studies. I am delighted that she is stepping up into this key role in the department, and looking forward to seeing her make a significant impact on our product portfolio and way of working.”

Astrid’s appointment coincides with a new structure for the Product Owners working in Digital, which has been designed to make it easier for the team to collaborate cross-functionally. The new structure goes hand-in-hand with changes introduced in the Logistics Digital and IT area.

Astrid emphasises the strengthened focus on data, saying, “I am humbled by the opportunity and look very much forward to help achieving our strategic objectives in this new role, working with our skilled and ambitious Product Owners. Asking the right questions at the right time can drastically improve our efficiency and the satisfaction with our solutions both internally and from our customers – and that is exactly what a data-driven way of working is about.”

The level 1 Digital & Marketing organisation chart is now as follows:



The DFDS app is developing at full speed

In just over three months, the DFDS app has had more than 5,000 downloads for iOS (the mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc.). The Android version, released on 24 October, has been downloaded more than 1,500 times.

Hasan Ünal, Product Owner, Digital, says: “In our first version only the English language was available, but we have recently sent an update to both the App Store and Google Play Store, including seven new languages that the app will support. Now the DFDS app can also be used in Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, French, German, Dutch and Polish. Together with Passenger marketing, we are planning updates for the remaining languages that we support on dfds.com in January next year.”

So far, the DFDS app has only been promoted to customers travelling on Newcastle – Amsterdam and on our Channel routes, since these routes are mostly being booked by English speaking customers but now the team will extend the promotion to customers who booked other routes as well.

“We have gathered really useful feedback from our customers and are already improving and adding functionalities into the app according to the customer feedback received so far,” says Hasan.

“As we targeted in our KPIs, our app is being rated with more than four stars both in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, and we’ll keep monitoring this metric to make sure that we keep up and exceed our customers’ expectations.”

The team is currently working on consolidating two DFDS freight apps into the DFDS app universe, and at the same time adding functionalities to increase efficiency at our freight terminals.

Hasan says: “We have conducted user testing at Ghent, Immingham, Dover, Dunkerque and Calais and gathered valuable information regarding how we can decrease the time spent in DFDS terminals by freight drivers for a more efficient flow. We expect to issue our first update with freight driver functionalities as early as Q1 next year. Then we aim to move our users from the terminal app to the DFDS app and decommission the terminal app later next year.”

The DFDS app is downloaded mostly by the 25-34 age group followed by the 35-44 and 45-55 age groups, and 69% of our app users are male.

Ghent terminal user testing with freight drivers

Huge milestone for the Unified DFDS.com project

On 31 October, the teams integrating our Passenger web presence into the overall DFDS.com, launched the final (and biggest) Passenger web presence. The UK site went live just two days after the German site, and despite it being Halloween, without any major bumps.

Over the last four years, Digital and parts of the business have worked on a long-term integration of our web presence and online booking tools. In 2015 we merged our Freight Shipping and Logistics websites together into a new, mobile-friendly DFDS.com. We followed this in 2016 with the inclusion of the Group section on DFDS.com and in 2017, we launched new freight and logistics booking experiences within the DFDS.com family. For the last two years, DFDS.com has focused on supporting the Passenger business. And after a great deal of work and with great collaboration, we have now finished migrating all local Passenger sites.

Why are we unifying the web presence? One key reason is creating more value with less cost. We have high ambitions for automated personalisation, and we want to make it easy to approach new audiences online, wherever they may be. With the new DFDS.com we can quickly launch a high quality, new country version of the site simply by going through a translation process.

“It’s great to celebrate this milestone, and to know that we are one major step closer to realizing the Digital vision,” said Sophie-Kim Chapman, VP Digital. “I’d like to thank Roberta Skugaraite, Project Manager, who successfully navigated all involved teams through to this final launch. Equal thanks go to Dagny Lydsdottir, Product Owner, who realised the vision for DFDS.com. It was inspiring to work so closely with our colleagues in Passenger Marketing, who rely on the web site for generating the majority of their revenue, and I look forward to continuing the same productive cooperation in the future.”

The Unified DFDS.com project will now be closed, but that doesn’t mean we stop developing our online customer experience. Dagny Lydsdottir, Product Owner for dfds.com, has a packed roadmap including developments for the DFDS Spot value proposition to Freight customers, features around content marketing and lead generation for Logistics and the Industry teams, as well as the next phases of the Passenger Tour Operator initiative and re-engineering of the Passenger booking flow.

Pete Akerman, Passenger Marketing Director, says, “The strong collaboration between teams has been a real success in my view. This is a strong starting point to now continue our development of the DFDS web presence to deliver a more personalized and engaging experience that will support us to convert more customers. I’d like to thank everyone involved for their dedication and hard work to get us to this point.”

James Butler, Head of Conversion Marketing “It was an incredible journey for the entire conversion marketing team. As part of our strategic direction to increase conversion rates and ultimately increase revenue, we can now harness the power of a modern website on one domain which can be localised by territory. This has been a classic example of collaboration between the Marketing community and the Digital team in Copenhagen. I would like to mention the incredible effort of the Conversion team and our colleagues in Marketing for supporting us to deliver this project”.

UK team photo: from left, Charlotte Barlow, Bente Lunde, Diana Groos, Heather Barsby (front), Liam Coulson, James Butler, Deborah Akun (front), Jordy Peters, Katherine Scott, Eimante Subaciute and Ea Pedersen who could not join the photo.

Exciting career opportunity in Digital

Sophie-Kim Chapman

Digital & Marketing seek an experienced Product Owner for the Digital Customer Experience Management (CEM) Platform.

Sophie-Kim Chapman, Vice President, Digital & Marketing, says: “As we get more mature in our approach to digital customer experience, the platform that enables these experiences is growing and becoming both more sophisticated and more business-critical. The CEM platform is a carefully selected set of components that currently provides teams working with web, mobile and other digital channels with a range of capabilities – from content management (Contentful), to analytics (Google 360), to identity and access management (Okta), to CRM (Microsoft Dynamics and CDM), to email marketing (Iterable) and even front-end components (React, managed in Storybook). More elements get added to the platform as we develop our digital presence further, with personalisation a key capability area to be enabled by the platform in the coming months.

Several teams already work with different aspects of the CEM platform, but we are looking for an individual to own the vision and drive the roadmap for the complete platform area.”

Find out more about the position and apply here.


Astrid Illum appeared as guest on the Digital Analytics Power Hour podcast

Speaking on working with many different stakeholders in her field, Astrid Illum appeared as a guest on a Digital Analytics podcast. This photo is from the podcast’s 56th recording at Superweek in Hungary in 2017 and shows Astrid Illum and Michael Helbling, one of the hosts of the podcast


In late August, the DFDS Web Analytics Specialist Astrid Illum appeared on episode 122 of the Digital Analytics Power Hour podcast to talk about the topic of working with many different stakeholders in her field.

The Digital Analytics Power Hour is a podcast hosted by Michael Helbling, Tim Wilson and Moe Kiss. They use the format of sitting down with a guest for an hour to talk about business analytics in a way that any person with a basic knowledge of analytics can understand. In brief, a business analyst is a colleague that bridges the gap between business and IT to facilitate communication, change and deliver solutions.

Podcast host Tim Wilson, Senior Director of Analytics at Search Discovery, introduces the episode this way: “It’s a challenge we constantly face as analysts: serving many masters across the organisation who don’t necessarily know or care about competing priorities. On the latest episode of the show, Astrid Illum from DFDS joined us to chat about how she juggles those competing demands.”

Astrid adds: “The hosts on the podcast are both friendly and knowledgeable, so I enjoyed getting their perspective on DFDS. The digital analytics stakeholders at DFDS span many countries and diverse business units. The roles include developers, product owners, marketing specialists and business drivers at all levels. It was important for me to represent our ambitions of unification and leveraging scale and the journey we are on in that regard.”

If you would like to delve further into the topic of DFDS from the perspective of digital analytics, you can listen to the episode or read the transcript here.

New mobile app launched for ferry passengers

A passenger app has been developed by the team in Turkey, together with the product owner and UX and design team lead, all pictured here. Back row: Osman Yalın, Mikolaj Matyaszczyk, Volkan Bicer and Reha Kılıç. Front row: Hasan Ünal, Ayse Bilgin, Bedirhan Güven, Hakan Adiguzel, Melike Demir and Kadircan Türker.


A brand-new DFDS mobile app will help our passengers with their journeys with DFDS. The app went live on the app store on 4 September and an Android version is set to follow soon after.

With the app, users will be able to check timetables for passenger routes all over Europe, buy tickets, log in or enter booking details to store tickets in their iPhone, and they can keep up-to-date with information about their journey and on-board opportunities. This app development supports Pillar B in the Win23 strategy concerned with the digitising of services and making travels easier for customers. It provides substantial benefits and reduces the need to assist individuals by sharing information relevant to passengers through the app.

“We want to offer a DFDS mobile app to ensure a smooth, coherent and satisfying journey when travelling with DFDS. Later in the year, the team will focus on consolidating our two freight apps and will add them to our digital app universe, further supporting the Win23 strategy. This app is the first to be developed with internal DFDS resources. One of our targets, and part of our vision, is to develop and own all DFDS app code internally in order to remove the costs of using third parties to maintain and develop apps for DFDS,” says Hasan Ünal, product owner of DFDS Mobile apps in Digital.

Using implemented tracking, this early version collects feedback and tracks how it is used, and how engaged our users are with the app, which will help in the further development.

This is how the app looks to the user.

Working closely together across teams

Passenger, Digital and IT colleagues across a number of different teams have been collaborating effectively to make sure that we create value for our customers. Working closely and efficiently, they have successfully launched the app, and proved that geographical distance and functional reporting lines do not have to be barriers to great cooperation.

“We are beginning by promoting the app in our pre-travel emails on the Newcastle – Amsterdam and Dover ‒ Calais/Dunkirk routes to customers travelling in the coming weeks. We will monitor responses and broaden the promotion as its success grows,” says Angela Fixter, Head of Retention Marketing, who together with James Butler, Head of Conversion Marketing, has provided valuable input into the development process right from the start.

Jan Devrim Barsel, Senior Director of Development Center Turkey, says: “Creating the app was exciting and full of surprises. The result is easy to use, and gets us closer to our customers, providing many digital services that will create value for them and boost sales and customer satisfaction for us. I’m proud of our young development team in Turkey which has worked hard, focused on delivering their best and achieved such a good result.”

Watch this video and learn more about how Tableau enables better decision-making

Maybe you have heard about DFDS’ data visualisation tool, Tableau, but do you know what it is and how it benefits our work at DFDS?

In this video, DFDS’ very own Tableau consultant, Iga Kotra, explains how Tableau can help make sense of a sea of numbers, and how it makes it easier to spot patterns and outliers and get to the bottom of an issue faster. You can also get an idea of how Tableau is used in specific areas of the business.

Iga says: “Tableau is a tool that is concentrated around the process of data analysis and it is supposed to help you get answers to questions in the shortest possible time. It allows you to create online interactive dashboards, which you can easily share through our Tableau server with the rest of the organisation. It also allows you to forget about manual updates of your data, thanks to the automatic data refresh.”

Jonas Holstein, Head of Business Intelligence, says: “We see Tableau as a tool that enables our users to learn more about our business through data. During a normal day, we all make hundreds of decisions. Whether small or big, they could all benefit from introducing an element of data. Tableau is here to help by allowing you to process the data in a visual form.”

If you have questions or ideas regarding Tableau, please do not hesitate to contact us via BI.Support@dfds.com

New service: Customers can select a specific time to pick up their trailer

Soon, customers will be able to select a time to pick up their trailer. The project is called Pick-up-Based Booking (PBB), and seeks to reduce the waiting time for drivers with new services. Two services have already been launched on selected routes: Priority Discharge and Available Pick-up Time.

Guaranteeing trailer availability within the first hour
Priority Discharge guarantees trailer pick-up availability for numerous trailers within the first hour of the ferry’s arrival. In this way, drivers can manage their routes even more smoothly and efficiently; for example, making it possible to unload one trailer and load another while the ferry is in port. Priority Discharge was launched on the Vlaardingen – Immingham route on 1 May.

Klaus Erik Hansen from Strategy & Consulting says: “The project is a result of cooperation between Ferry, Digital, Smart Data and Strategy & Consulting. We worked with the terminals and Business Intelligence to standardise booking and loading/unloading operations. Since the launch of Priority Discharge, we have seen a 97% discharge success rate, with drivers picking up the selected trailers within the first hour. We are now looking to expand Priority Discharge to other routes, and are looking in particular at launching this on the Gothenburg to Ghent and Immingham, and Vlaardingen to Felixstowe routes.”

Using data to predict available pick-up time
The second service is called Available Pick-up Time (APT). Alessandro Pirrotta, Data Scientist from Smart Data, explains: “With APT, we base the approximate on-board location of a trailer to predict the available pick-up time for the trailer on board. This reduces the waiting time drastically for drivers who could otherwise wait up to five hours to pick up their trailer. The service was tested on customers and reduced waiting times by up to 50%. Over the course of the summer, APT will be launched for a selected few customers.”

BU Channel adds Newhaven – Dieppe route to Freight Ferry Alerts App

Digital and BU Channel are adding to the Freight Ferry Alerts App, and we will soon be offering this tool for both Dover and Newhaven – Dieppe routes. Pictured is Seven Sisters departing Newhaven.


DFDS is well known for going the extra mile, nautical and otherwise, for its customers. In general operations that takes many forms. One service we are very happy to offer is live service updates for our customers and their drivers with the Freight Ferry Alerts App, which will soon be supported for both the Dover and Newhaven – Dieppe routes.

From 13 May the app will become available for the Newhaven – Dieppe route as part of the ongoing development. Hasan Ünal, Product Owner in Digital, says: “Digital and all business units are working closer on app projects, with good results. For instance, a previous project added QR code-compatible check-in gates for freight drivers in terminals. Our long-term strategy is to create a DFDS app universe where we ensure a smooth, coherent and satisfying journey when engaging with DFDS services. We have established a product team in Digital with exciting projects on the way.”

Cheryl Hawes, Freight Customer Service Manager, Freight Sales, UK & EC, says: “This is great news that following the idea from our Dover route we will now be launching this for our customers on the Newhaven – Dieppe route. BU Channel have been working with Digital and external developers to expand on the success of this app that gives much needed information about real-time traffic situations, along with safety messages and marketing of USPs to our customers and their drivers, without hassle, confusion or delays in information. A special thanks go to Stephanie Hure and Stephanie Goux for supporting the swift implementation. This has been an excellent example of working together and where sharing best practice benefits our freight customers.”

Sean Potter, Ferry Divisional Head, Digital & Systems, adds: “We are always looking for ways to ease and improve the constant and necessary cooperation with our customers. One significant area we are focusing on is how, with a straightforward app, we can communicate very efficiently to ensure that our customers’ daily operations go smoothly on our vessels. I look forward to this type of customer communication being established in the near future across the rest of the Ferry Division network as part of our ongoing strategy with the Digital team towards development opportunities.”

Another welcome addition is Turkish language support on the app. You can read about the digitisation benefits of this app from an earlier article.

Jette Lundquist appointed Head of Marketing

Jette Lundquist is not new at DFDS – since 19 November she has been interim Head of Marketing, and now she can erase interim from her title. Big congratulations to Jette with her now permanent responsibility for the important marketing of our services.

Jette brought extensive marketing experience with her when she joined DFDS, most recently from a position as Global Marketing Director at Tia Technology, delivering software solutions for the insurance industry.

“I am very excited to continue my work as Head of Marketing and I look forward to diving deep into the strategic marketing work that lies ahead together with my skilled colleagues in Marketing,” says Jette.

She will be heading a team of dedicated marketing professionals covering a broad variety of responsibilities, and as it is a relatively new department, we are showing the structure of the department’s functions and services in the picture below.

Jette Lundquist reports to Sophie-Kim Chapman, VP, Digital & Marketing. Sophie-Kim says: “I am very pleased to appoint Jette as permanent Head of Marketing. She is a team player with just the right skills and understanding to innovate and reinforce our marketing strategy and efforts. She is also a great people manager, and I very much look forward to working with Jette to improve communication of our value proposition, our brand awareness and market share.”

The team is responsible for developing the group brand, which we also are responsible for activating in our freight businesses. In Passenger, they have their own team to activate the brand on the basis of the group brand developed by Marketing.

The demand generation team – so called because it works on generating demand for our services in the market.

The Strategy and Planning team is responsible for campaigns, social media, Search Engine Optimisation and Analytics. Analytics is used across DFDS to optimise the way we use web data to continuously improve the website and increase visits and sales.

The web team is responsible for the Digital Services Catalog, updating content, web site localization and translation as well as domain management.


App update can cut 30% of terminal check-in time for lorries

With a clever app update from Digital we will start reducing check-in times in several terminals, Klaipėda being the first to support the QR code system.


Putting a product to a real-life test is when you discover whether it’s really adding value. In February two members of Digital, Mikolaj Matyaszczyk from the UX (User Experience) team and Hasan Ünal, App Product owner, went to Klaipėda to test an update to the DFDS Terminals app. They were joined by Gintaras Laucius, product manager in the Ferry Division.

The update allows truck drivers to pass the terminal gates using a simple QR code. The test suggests the new feature will improve the flow into the terminals by allowing drivers to save 30-50 seconds, more than 30% on average of the check-in time.

Several more terminals are preparing to use the new codes, with Vlaardingen nearly ready, then Ghent planned for May, and later Immingham and Gothenburg as well.


Thinking ahead and good collaboration

The QR code scanning is possible due to a timely effort, says Gintaras: “I’m very pleased that back in 2016 together with the General Terminal Management System team we predicted the future and made a set-up to use mobile devices at the terminal. Now we have agreed with IT and Digital to push further developments.”

The project is a great example of collaboration between the business, IT, and Digital. Mikolaj explains:
“In the UX team we rely heavily on passionate business drivers to help us build seamless and valuable digital products. In this case, the collaboration has been outstanding.”

The app update is part of an increased focus on using apps to improve efficiency and user experience on the go. Digital also started work on a brand new DFDS app, a travel and transport assistant developed by our skilled Turkish development team. The new app will be personalised to accommodate the needs of individual users, be they truck drivers, solo passengers, business travellers or a family on holiday.

From left: Gintaras Laucius, project manager, Hasan Ünal, product owner on the mobile app and Mikolaj Matyaszczyk, UX team manager in Klaipėda

DFDS represented on panel at the Superweek Analytics Summit

Panel at Superweek with Astrid Illum (right), DFDS. The other participants included, from left: Simo Ahava, widely recognised as a Google Tag Manager expert, Scott H. Herman, Product Manager at Google Tag Manager and, lastly Brian Kuhn, Lead Developer at Google Tag Manager.


Our marketing efforts continue to rely more and more on the growing digital sphere, and it is necessary for a company like DFDS to stay up to date and involved with the development of these marketing tools.

One of these powerful digital tools, Google Tag Manager, which is used for tracking and analytics on websites, was the focus of a panel discussion at the Superweek Analytics Summit, which took place from 28 January to 1 February on a snowy mountain top in Hungary. Hosted by a group of analytics professionals, the five-day event boasted a wide range of topics within analytics, and DFDS was represented on this panel by Astrid Illum, Web Analytics Specialist at DFDS.

One of the questions addressed to the panel concerned what direction the role of Google Tag Manager is moving in, and how we will manage governance for tools as powerful as Google Tag Manager. Originally, Google Tag Manager was perceived as a marketing tool which decreased IT and developer-dependency, but as the role of Google Tag Manager grows more complex and functionally rich, that interpretation is no longer feasible.

“At DFDS, this means working to place Google Tag Manager firmly within a cooperation between analytics, marketing and IT. This will allow us to embrace the future of web integration services in a world of increasing plug-and-play possibilities while maintaining a high level of reliability and transparency,” said Astrid Illum.

As Google Tag Manager and other tools are developed and become integrated in our business, DFDS is making it a priority to stay ahead of the trend in this area.

Successful launch for Digital – a leap forward for our customers

Our colleagues from Digital are in the process of merging every DFDS website into one unified site – DFDS.com. It is a comprehensive task that involves cooperation with many business units throughout DFDS and the teams have already delivered group, freight shipping and logistics sites.

Roberta Skugaraite, Digital Project Manager, says: “On 21 February, we reached another big milestone in digitising the customer experience. Last year we successfully went live with sections for Group, Freight and Logistics and we can already see our initial strategy of unifying the websites is yielding great results ranging from monetary benefits to obtaining more clients and leads.

“We were very eager to get the Passenger section up to speed as well. Through excellent collaboration with teams throughout DFDS’ network, who all made sure that we launched a quality and timely product, the Passenger section has now gone live in 10 different languages at once! It has been a great learning curve for the teams and the increased efficiency of launches is now visible more than ever.

“We are expecting all 22 languages to be launched by the end of Q2 this year, which would not be possible without great support from the Conversion team in the UK, the extended family of DFDS.com team in Copenhagen and our partners outside DFDS, all of whom have gone way and beyond in their lines of work. Thank you all for making it happen!”

Representatives from Digital and IT Office visit our Estonian office

On a snowy afternoon on Monday 10 December, two representatives from the Digital and IT Office (DIO) landed in Tallinn, Estonia, to present the future vision for the DIO and their respective systems.

Ian Cowie, Phoenix Product Owner, and Bart van Rosmalen, EDI Product Owner, both first-time visitors to Estonia, spent two full days on location in Tallinn. During their visit, they engaged with local staff to listen to the concerns and issues being faced, enjoyed an extensive tour of the terminal to view cargo arriving and how the check-in staff interacted with the system in place, and watched a vessel being loaded.

Ian Cowie says: “The purpose of the visit was to interact with some key stakeholders, and to provide an educational awareness update on the DIO, and what we hope to deliver to this location and to all locations in Q1, and further into 2019.”

Dmitri Shabanov, Operations General Manager in Tallinn, says: “It was great to welcome our colleagues from the DIO, to listen to their vision, and to show them our operation and share our thoughts and ideas too. We are looking forward to seeing what the future holds for us with digitalisation.”

“We would like to thank Dmitri, Ave Lomp and Markus Martsepp for their hospitality during our visit,” say Ian and Bart.

UNIFIED – From colleagues to website

Our colleagues from Digital are in the process of merging every DFDS website into one unified site -DFDS.com. It is a comprehensive task that involves cooperation with many business units across DFDS and the team have already helped create sites for freight shipping and logistics.

The Digital team and the Newcastle Marketing team have worked together hard on a site for the Passenger business unit. To ensure the launch of the first passenger site section (Global EN) went as smoothly as possible, the Digital team travelled to Newcastle to meet all the stakeholders and colleagues they have been working with during the creation of the site section.

Pete Akerman, Passenger Marketing Director, says: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Digital team to Newcastle and fantastic to see the talented teams working so well together to deliver a successful launch of the first passenger content into the unified dfds.com. It was also exciting to discuss future developments to improve customer experience through the booking flow.”

Roberta Skugaraite, Digital Project Manager, says: “Working with the Marketing team in person during the launch made testing and problem-solving a lot easier and the enthusiasm for a lean, agile, and efficient delivery resulted in a launch that we all can be proud of.

“Everyone’s undivided attention and collaboration is something we want to continue with when preparing to launch other projects and there are many upcoming incremental launches, but with such a strong start we are confident that the rest will be a success.”

From left: Deborah Akun, Swoz East, Charlotte Barlow, Kate Thompson


From left: Dagny Lydsdottir and Aleksandr Dubinskiy

My DFDS Freight teams create synergies in Immingham

Even though the B2B Digital team and the Phoenix team in Immingham are based far from each other on either side of the North Sea, the two teams have been working closely together for quite a while. Earlier this year, they finally met in face to face when the B2B Digital team visited Immingham for four days.

The B2B Digital team mainly develops and maintains our two freight booking systems, My DFDS Logistics and My DFDS Freight. Together with the Phoenix team in Immingham, which is responsible for the core IT system of the freight business, the B2B Digital team makes sure that My DFDS Freight performs in the most optimal manner. The Phoenix team manages the back end (databases and servers), while B2B Digital manages the front end (user interface and user experience).

Throughout the four days, the teams established a long-term working plan for the back end and front end, and they also identified challenges of cross-country collaboration and action points to improve future work.

Getting customers on board for digitization

During the visit one of the main focuses to discuss and expand upon was the three objectives laid down by Sean Potter, Divisional Head of Digital & Systems.

“We plan to finalise the transfer of all remaining customers still using the Phoenix Customer Web & InfoBridge to My DFDS Freight by the end of October and early November, whilst implementing additional feature requests that have come additionally from business over the past months.

Furthermore, we seek to reduce the manual bookings on all routes. We plan to achieve this by targeting all small and medium-sized customers across each route and get them to use the online booking solution. Currently 79% of our bookings are digital (incl EDI), and our objective is to reach 85%. The remaining 15% consist of small and medium-sized customers who email etc,” says Sean.

“Finally, we plan to optimise the access management, specifically by improving brand preference and engagement with a consistent way of identifying the connected users,” Sean adds.

“Meeting our colleagues in Immingham and comparing expectations for the future of My DFDS Freight was excellent. We had four informative, interesting and busy days in Immingham with a tour of the terminal and the customer service centre as well as kick-off meetings with the Phoenix team. I am confident that the visit will open up for an even better cross-border collaboration and impact positively on the customer experience on the My DFDS Freight system. Our aim is to visit our colleagues in UK with a higher frequency, so we can follow up on action points and strengthen our collaboration going forward” says Laus Ravnsted, Scrum Master.

New Head of Project Management and DIO in Digital & Marketing

We are very pleased to announce that Anna Åkesson has joined the recently rebranded Digital & Marketing organisation as Head of Project Management and DIO.

Before coming to DFDS, Anna worked for many years in the telecoms industry (Ericsson/Sony) with e.g. leadership, strategy and project management. Before that, she pursued a career as Hotel Director at Scandic Hotels and Sales Manager at Scandlines. Anna’s impressive career also involved international business, especially with Japan, where she lived for some years.

Anna says: “I find it very rewarding to link business and IT, realise a strategy and increase the operational efficiency by bridging different stakeholders and parts of the organisation. I’m very much looking forward to contributing to DFDS’ very successful digital journey.”

Anna is Swedish and lives in Sweden. She actually lives in two places – in an old school house in the countryside in Österlen at weekends and in an apartment in Malmö during the week. Anna is married, has no children but has several pets and loves long walks, yoga and refurbishing her house. She also shares a passion for music with her husband, who is a musician and producer.

Anna’s position as Head of Project Management and DIO is a semi new position. Sophie-Kim Chapman, Vice President of Digital & Marketing, explains: “Following the departure of Michael Schat-Holm as Portfolio Manager during the establishment of the new governance model between Business, Digital and IT, it was decided not to immediately replace Michael’s role until we saw how the new governance set-up and delivery model had landed.”

“Now it is apparent that we need more management capabilities in place as the Digital & Marketing team grows, we take on more projects, and the interfaces between Digital and other functions grow more complex. I am very pleased to have Anna on board, please help me to welcome her to DFDS.”

Winners of the Transformers Mindset Poster competition

Excited participants and an audience from IT and Digital gathered in Harbour House on Friday afternoon to find out the winners of the Transformers Mindset Poster competition. Teams from Klaipeda, Immingham, Grimsby, Dieppe and Dover participated via Skype.

All teams in IT and Digital had been encouraged to make a poster with their input into what mindset everyone should have when working with the new IT and Digital operating model and how they should behave according to the ongoing transformation.

Sophie-Kim Chapman, Group Digital Officer, and Gert Møller, CIO, reviewed all the submitted posters and decided who had come up with the best proposal. “There were several really good contributions and it was hard to select only one winner. We ended up with three worthy mentions and two winners,” say Sophie-Kim and Gert.

The two winning teams, Unified Web Team and the Integrations Team, had several good inputs and scored high on statements like ‘Work together – eliminate silos’ and ‘Always ask for (more) data’. The winners received a Lego Mindstorms set each and everyone had a good time with cake and refreshments.

The winning posters will be communicated to all IT and Digital teams and offices to serve as guidelines for how we should think and work to support the transformation in Digital and IT.

Valuable meetings in Gothenburg on digital developments

DFDS’ sales and customer services are increasingly going digital and if we and our customers are to obtain the full benefit of this, we need to base our digital initiatives on our customers’ challenges and pains as well as our own requirements. Therefore, Sean Potter, the Shipping Division’s Digital & IT Officer, arranged meetings and workshops with freight managers and colleagues over two days in the Gothenburg terminal and Industrial Sales. The aim was to review requirements, pain points and future expectations. “We need this to develop digital awareness and understanding of the opportunities which digital solutions can provide,” says Sean.

The meeting in the Shipping Division was followed by another between DFDS Logistics and Seaways Industrial to exchange views on our current systems such as our terminal system GTMS, Canea and our maintenance and procurement system Sertica.

Integrated supply chain
“We also discussed new capabilities and digital transparency, which is key to sharing best practices. We agreed to link into the existing exchanges of information between Swedish colleagues and to look at third-party warehouse options for an integrated supply chain across DFDS’ network that can enable us to offer comprehensive digital services linking into our core systems. Several systems are under initial investigation to meet our diverse criteria, and we are initially starting with Logistics’ cross-dock facility in Gothenburg as the benchmark,” says Sean.

“I am very pleased that we are now taking this combined system approach, which will ensure we find a good solution for both Shipping and Logistics. This will also make it easier to offer customers more integrated solutions based on know-how and capabilities from the divisions,” says Jens Antonsen, Digital & IT Officer for the Logistics Division.

Willingness to collaborate
“Sean invited me to facilitate the workshops where we experienced great willingness to collaborate on areas that might traditionally be siloed. The enthusiasm from all involved and the intention to drive towards a philosophy of One DFDS across the whole workflow will inspire our plans for the architecture so common issues will see solutions coming out of future system developments,” says Matt Ellis, IT & Digital Architect.

Participants were from Seaways’ industrial team, local logistics management teams along with the managing director from Gothenburg roro Björn Wånge among others.

DFDS Seaways AB and DFDS Logistics team debating warehousing and customer expectations for integrated supply chain requirements.

Organisational ​changes in Digital and Group Transformation

As part of our on-going digital transformation, we have been striving for some time to coordinate our traditional and digital marketing efforts. The aim is to bring us into a multi-channel future, which means that we meet our customers in a consistent and meaningful way on every platform where we interact with them. In BU Group Passenger, this is a key focus for Pete Akerman’s marketing team. For Shipping and Logistics, however, there is currently no equivalent business function, and here we rely more on traditional forms of marketing, such as printed material and events.

We have also been working hard in recent years to build brand value and to make all our marketing efforts more brand driven. We started with the unified DFDS brand strategy and more recently we defined our purpose. Now it’s time to take the next step towards a leaner and more integrated brand, marketing and digital capability for our Shipping and Logistics customers, while we continue our strategic brand support for Passenger and non-commercial target groups.

From June, the existing Group Brand Innovation (GBI) team will no longer report to Valdemar Warburg in Group Transformation. GBI will merge with the existing digital team into a new organisation called Digital and Marketing, reporting to Sophie-Kim Chapman. This will put digital customer experience at the heart of our brand, enable multi-channel marketing activities, and simplify the interfaces for business stakeholders. Additionally, to help us get closer to our goals, we will hire a new Head of Marketing, who will also continue Rikke Gransøe Lange’s great efforts in developing our brand.

In the coming weeks, Sophie-Kim will work with members of the team to define an interim organisation and to ensure that currently provided services are maintained, while we hire our new Head of Marketing.


Best regards,

Torben Carlsen, CFO

Successful launch of the first version of ‘Unified’

Front row from left: Aleksandr Dubinskiy, Fadrique Avalle-Arce, Casper Michaelsen, Dagny Lydsdottir, Henrik Killander, Linnea Herbæk, Agne Garcia Ordinana, Daniel Varberg, Roberta Skugaraite. Second row from right: Jakob Fredfeldt, Frederik Zillmer, Jannik Nilsson Staunstrup, Mikolaj Matyaszczyk, Riccardo Cereser


On 25 April, the Unified DFDS.com project team released the DFDS.com website on our new Customer Experience Management (CEM) platform. The launch appears to show only minor changes to the previous DFDS.com, but it represents the foundation for the biggest phase yet of our journey towards a unified and localised customer experience. Let’s take a quick look back to the start of this journey!

Over the last three years, Digital and the various parts of the business have been working on a long-term integration of our web presence and online booking tools. In the first step in 2015, we merged our Freight Shipping and Logistics websites together into a new, mobile-friendly DFDS.com. We followed this in 2016 with the inclusion of the Group section on DFDS.com and last year, we launched new booking experiences – My Freight and My Logistics for our freight customers, within the DFDS.com family.

In parallel to these launches last year, the Unified DFDS.com team was working hard to establish the foundation for our future, unified, digital presence. Our goal is to have one, localised and personalised web presence for all of our customers. As a first step, we have now launched the new platform.

Project Manager Roberta Skugaraite says: “The team is very proud to have successfully launched the first version of ‘Unified’. In the near future, local language versions will be rolled out for our Freight Shipping and Logistics business in 15 languages. At the same time, the Unified team, consisting of members from Digital and IT, continue to work on developing the entire Passenger section of the site in close collaboration with stakeholders in the new PAX organization. We expect to be able to deliver the first integrated Passenger experiences on the new site and to reach our goal of true ‘unification’ by the end of 2018.”

Sophie-Kim Chapman, Vice President of Digital, explains the strategy behind ‘Unified’: “We’re unifying the web presence for a number of reasons. A key one is to be able to create more value with less cost. Added to this, we have high ambitions for increased personalisation and automation online, and we can achieve this faster if we consolidate and focus our efforts. Finally, we want to make it easy to approach new audiences online, wherever they may be. With the new DFDS.com we can very quickly launch a high quality, new country version of the site simply by going through a translation process. Roberta, Dagny (Product Owner), Casper (Scrum Master) and the whole team have done a great job of managing and delivering the first release according to plan.”


*Please note that due to an old DFDS configuration it is currently not possible to open DFDS.com in Internet Explorer while at work. IT is working to resolve this, but for the time being please use the Chrome browser or a smartphone/ tablet.

We need your help to win the battle in Google’s search engine

Google uses around 200 different variables to rank websites in its search result pages. One of the most prominent is links from other websites. In simple terms, each link to a website is considered a vote. The more votes a site accumulates, the more likely it will be to show up for a particular search query. It is not a ‘one member, one vote’ system though. A link from a high authority site such as whitehouse.gov will be much more powerful than a link from a low authority site such as a small new website.

Our Digital Marketing and Services team is working on strengthening DFDS’ presence in Google search engine results and they have an important request for us all.

“We would like to identify webpages that dfds.com potentially could get a link from and we therefore encourage everyone at DFDS to help us. If you know partners that we are cooperating with who have a website, for instance suppliers, customers, external partners, partnerships, etc., please tell us about them,” says Daniel Varberg, web analytics specialist.

If you know of any companies that could be interesting for the Digital Marketing and Services team to look at with regard to link-building, please help the team by sending your suggestions to Daniel.varberg@dfds.com.

Daniel Varberg adds: “Your input is highly appreciated! Please send all your suggestions to us and we will contact you if the companies are relevant so that we can discuss how to approach them.”

If you have any questions or input with regard to search engine optimisation please contact Daniel Varberg on Daniel.varberg@dfds.com.

A new innovation team

To ensure we move DFDS forward and improve our decision making on growth and the future, DFDS has built a new innovation team, reporting to Sophie-Kim Chapman, Vice President & Group Digital Officer.

What will our innovation team do?

The innovation team has three main functions:

  • to build a framework and governance structure for the innovation portfolio. This will ensure that we can put a value and measurement on the activities going on around the business and support with best practice methods for how to scope and mature ideas, projects, and new businesses,
  • drive culture and mind-set change around the organisation by supporting activities already happening to work with agile and sprint methodology, build hyper awareness and future proofing scenarios, and engaging communities of practice across the local offices. The existing Digital Scout network is going to be a key part of forming these communities,
  • managing radical innovation in DFDS. New ideas that are far from the core business, use complex, new technologies, or potentially threaten value propositions for ourselves or our partners need to be incubated and tested to see whether they can be part of our future growth path. This team will be the keepers of these incubated projects and businesses.

DFDS is already doing innovative work

Many innovative activities are already going on within DFDS. These have been driven by the Technical Organisation, the Digital team, areas all around the business, some have even been initiated by customers and suppliers. The Innovation Team will seek to support and extend these activities.

One activity has been led by the Digital Scouts who have been scanning the media since last summer. On the Bridge they are posting items about where technology is going. “I would like to democratise that to everyone in DFDS, so that we all try to be aware and understand how the world is moving from a customer, technology, and industry perspective. It could be identifying a partner we should work with or helping us understand how accurate predictions might be of future scenarios. The scouts will help in a more formalised role going forward to make sure we utilise the knowledge, passion, and interests among the network. They are our ear to the ground across the business,” says Anneli.

A small team with big impact

The team is currently two people, Anneli Bartholdy and Patricia Ayoub. Anneli joined us in January from SingularityU Denmark and prior to that held innovation roles in several parts of A. P. Moller-Maersk.

Patricia has been leading the way here in DFDS, having started in fall of 2017. She comes from the start-up world and has already been supporting various projects and initiatives from a commercial and business model perspective. Both have also been heavily involved with the ongoing strategy work led by the Transformation Management Office. There will be two student interns joining the team this spring on temporary assignment, with a third full time team member joining in the second half of the year.

In the coming weeks we will focus on our innovation efforts via blogposts, videos, and articles to make some of the new team’s collaboration with the scouts and business visible to show the impact of our growth initiatives.