At the Glossy Forum in NYC on Thursday, executives from across the fashion, beauty and luxury worlds came together to discuss new pressures in the retail landscape as shopping moves online.
Today’s consumers expect to be served up products personalized to their tastes, regardless of where they’re shopping, and to receive them fast. Brands and retailers, meanwhile, are making hires and shifting strategies to deliver a customer experience that meets new demand and bests competition.
We gathered some of the best speaker comments of the day, including those on navigating the wholesale partnership, keeping up with new standards of the online experience and fine-tuning the marketing focus as competition across channels heats up.
The new standards of e-commerce
“We started with a developer and one person running our e-commerce, and we now have an entire team. That’s largely due to customer expectations. Amazon keeps raising the bar; everyone expects that same level of experience and technology everywhere, so we’re constantly updating our team and our technology. We want to have all the same bells and whistles and features, and the same level of experience on our site as a company 100-times our size.” –Kevin Mogyoros, COO/CFO of MZ Wallace
“Customers have come to expect free shipping, free returns, fast service, 24-hour customer care — and we’re really just trying to meet those expectations. And on the international front, it’s important that we’re providing as close to an in-country experience as possible, in as many different countries as possible. That’s the challenge for the team. Right now, our whole team is based in New York.” —Mogyoros
“What’s happening now is this overabundance of choices, and what’s going to be increasingly important is having this very focused point of view and also being able to provide a worthwhile experience. Personalization is a huge priority; making sure the right content and products are being served up to consumers is critical.” —Jyothi Rao, president of Intermix
The evolution of digital marketing
“Email, believe it or not, drives a tremendous amount of revenue, between 30% and 40%. We have a small and mighty content team; customers will open emails all day long if it’s information they’re looking for. Our future investment is going toward supporting our e-commerce, our personalization and definitely our content.” —Rao
“Spending on digital marketing is critical. The vast majority of our ad spend is going to digital marketing, and we have seen incredible return on our paid efforts. It’s increasing our web business exponentially. But the added benefit is we’re also seeing traffic to stores increase as we increase our spend in the digital space. Having said that, we all know that search is limited by the real estate, and we all know who owns that real estate. That’s becoming more and more limited, so having a multi-faceted strategy is critical in the digital space. And having incredibly targeted acquisition and retention strategies across all your channels is table stakes.” —Rao
On working with wholesale partners
“We are 80% DTC and 20% wholesale, with the idea being that if wholesale were to go away, we are still a thriving business; we’re not building up that channel too much. We very much want to control the way consumers are experiencing the product. Having it in so many doors feels like we’re losing more of the message than we want to.” —Valerie Macaulay, co-founder and chief creative officer of La Ligne
“Being direct, we have so much data on the woman, on the customer that’s coming and buying. But then when you’re having appointments with wholesalers, they have their own ideas and perspective on what’s going to work for their consumer, and that’s often very different from what we’re seeing works for us.” —Macaulay
“Some partners are more savvy with their data and analytics than others. We find the most useful information doesn’t come from the corporate buyers or the headquarters, but instead from the store associates. So we really strive to get our team out into those store locations, interacting with associates so we can gather that information.” —Mogyoros
“One of the key pieces of our strategy is that we’re a full-price brand; the vast majority of our product line never goes on sale. We want to make sure what you’re buying today isn’t on sale in a couple weeks. Retail partners think we’re kidding when we say our product never goes on sale. But when we go to break up our relationship over the 30% off flash sale that includes our product, they realize we’re quite serious about that.” —Mogyoros
“The main purpose of working with wholesale partners is brand discovery — to allow consumers to get introduced to the product and experience the product. We are choosing to work with retailers really because of their footprint; they’re in the right markets and it doesn’t make sense for us to open several hundred locations of our own. But brand alignment is important. We want to make sure that there are adjacencies with other brands, and that we’re elevating our brand and considering our brand equity. We’re very picky in terms of what partners we work with. We want to make sure it’s not about just shoving in product and making more sales.” —Mogyoros
The business of exclusives
“‘Exclusives’ is becoming a dirty word — but every [retailer] wants an exclusive something that customers can’t get anywhere else. For us, it’s about managing what our design team can handle and sticking to the story we’re trying tell.” —Mogyoros
“Retailers can be very married to history and what has sold in the past. That’s where exclusives can go awry. They need to be more of a collaborative effort. Brands should preserve the handwriting of their vision; they shouldn’t be asked to do random, one-off styles.” —Rao
“Over one-third of our offering is exclusives. As a multi-brand retailer, that’s helped us be more efficient with our marketing spend. Optimizing the unique product that nobody has works.” —Rao