On Thursday, June 28, Glossy+ held an event for members at the Rebecca Minkoff flagship store in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood. During the event, Glossy editor-in-chief Jill Manoff spoke with Minkoff about evolving customer expectations, the future of the shopping mall and how social media influences fashion businesses today.
Below are snippets from the event, lightly edited for clarity and length. Join Glossy+, Glossy’s premium membership program, for invites to future events.
On the importance of a retail store today
Minkoff said that, for her brand, a store should act as a brand ambassador. Rebecca Minkoff stores feature hi-tech concepts. At the flagship location in Soho, for example, there is a large digital wall allowing customers to order a drink or request help from an employee. Connected mirrors in fitting rooms let them request alternative sizes of styles (helpful when you are half undressed) and utilize radio-frequency identification chips to track items tried on. Finally, iPads give shoppers a different way to pay for items in the store.
“It is an extension of what we stand for, and so our goal for the retail store is to make it feel like the community we have established online, that this is a physical iteration,” Minkoff said. “With our tech experiences and our dressing rooms, the goals is to minimize friction you experience in our analog world. And as technology advances, we have plans to make it more fun and interactive. We’re going to be renovating our stores in the next six to eight months — just to give them the update they need in order to fulfill the commitment to the customer, and keep easing those pain points and friction points.”
On the importance of Instagram to the business
With over 800 thousand followers on Instagram, the brand understands the power of the platform and has built user-generated content onto its website so online shoppers can see how products look on women who aren’t models.
“A majority of our traffic no longer comes from Google, it comes from Instagram,” Minkoff said. “These customers are huge conversions, and when we put up our [user-generated content] on our website, the best-selling items are ones where we have a picture of the customer wearing it.”
On current trends in the retail space
There are a number of direct-to-consumer brands that are starting to create physical locations, and Minkoff said she believes it’s because those companies are realizing they can reach customers there in ways they can’t on a website. The changing physical retail landscape has made it easier than ever for direct-to-consumer brands to do this.
“I think these direct-to-consumer brands realize how expensive or potentially more expensive it would be to exist only online, that they can reach customers through these inexpensive ways of doing it physically,” she said. “Landlords are freaking out and are more amenable than ever to the idea of a revenue share and short leases. So with that, it makes the direct-to-consumer brands more nimble, and so they can be on the ground and be that ambassador for their brand.”
On what consumer want from stores
Because the internet and direct-to-consumer retail models have changed the dynamic between customers and brands, customers are expecting more from their physical stores. For the Rebecca Minkoff brand, that means aiming to reduce the traditional pain points customers have in the real world by replicating the seamlessness of the online one. And of course, experience.
“I think it’s all about surprise and delight, so that you’re going to step out and take yourself to a store,” she said. “You don’t just want the same old experience. Whatever people can do to surprise and delight, and give their customer a more lasting experience is what will get people out.”
On how video livestreaming fits into the future of the brand
When Minkoff attended a brand event in Chicago, she met one of her top customers who used livestreaming for shoppers in China and learned of the huge opportunity in the market. Now the brand is looking at how Minkoff can experiment with it by trying on outfits and providing styling tips to drive sales.
“China is really moving forward in adopting this technology and using it, and I think in the U.S. it’s a little weird because they [associate livestreaming] with the Home Shopping Network of QVC,” she said. “But if we can get people in the U.S. to [shop this way], it would be really exciting.”