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Adore Me launched as a direct-to-consumer intimates brand in 2012, using a wide range of sizes and competitive prices to take on the brands dominating the market.

According to Romain Liot, the COO of Adore Me, the company’s marriage of technology and fashion allows it to adapt to what the customer wants more easily than a traditional, established brand.

“We always have this kind of cultural battle within the company: Are we more of a fashion company, or a tech company?” said Liot. “It’s not two sides that don’t talk to each other. In fact, when we were designing specific tools to support the creation team, everything was a collaboration. A subset of tech — 10 people — sat in a room with the design team for three months to figure out the perfect tool for product life cycle management. A lot of companies get these big programs that are a heavy lift, and nobody really likes it because it’s not designed for them, and it’s a challenge. In our case, we started from scratch, and because we are such a heavy tech firepower, and our teams worked together, we have this amazing product that some of our competitors even want to purchase.”

On this week’s episode of The Glossy Podcast, Hilary Milnes sits down with Liot to discuss how Adore Me measures the success of its products, what complexities exist in the lingerie supply chain and why transparency is the best way to foster customer loyalty. Edited highlights below.

Natural (product) selection
“When you launch 50 products per month, the reality is that you have 10 that become superstars and 20 that are extremely successful, and you might have 10 that don’t work. In a traditional retail world, those that don’t do well kind of disappear, so they might be marked down over time. For us, we never replenish them, and they slowly disappear from the system. It’s a bit Darwinian, but that’s how you get better and better. For some of them, if you just look at them from a sales perspective, they are not that successful, but the customer feedback is extremely positive. It’s never black-and-white: Did it sell, or didn’t it sell? You look at different things.”

Complexities of the lingerie industry
“Lingerie is an extremely complex industry, compared to others in the fashion world. Why? It’s complex to make a bra. In a bra, you typically have 50 to 60 components, while in a pair of jeans, you have six. The implication of that is, when we deal with manufacturers, we don’t just deal with one who does everything. Sixty components translates to 20 or 30 companies that will contribute to the product, and because they’re all specialized, it’s not easy to scale. That means a complex production process and long lead times. Our strategy is to gain a bit of insight early on, which translates into real customer gain. That’s why we’ve been able to be successful in an industry that is so complex.”

Loyalty through transparency
“You have to be genuine. Adore Me, because we’re still a startup, we don’t do everything perfect, but we’ve always been extremely honest and transparent with our customers. Two years ago, for instance, during Valentine’s Day, we hit the peak of sales. It was insane. Everyone was excited, but we discovered that we couldn’t deliver all of the product on time, because the warehouse was a bottleneck and couldn’t ship the product. That’s a problem on many dimensions. It’s a problem, because it’s not good for the customer who trusts you, especially during Valentine’s Day, when people want to change their lingerie. It’s not cool, because there’s a ton of pressure, and people start to speak out on social media. At that moment, we were extremely transparent and sent an email out to all of our customers, saying, ‘Hey, we screwed up, so you will not receive your order on time. You have two options now: You can wait a week or two, or you can cancel your order and be refunded, no questions asked.’ When you take [that step], people recognize it.”