Last night was the 10th installment of the Fashion 2.0 MeetUps I co-organize with Yuli Ziv. The MeetUps are just one of the projects run by the Style Coalition, which was co-founded by my wife Jean V Pratt, Yuli, her MyItThings co-founder Saar Paamoni and me. Yuli brought in an amazing panel to headline our topic for the evening: eCommerce in the fashion world. I think the MeetUp was our best ever as evidenced by the number of Tweets (before, during and after), audience engagement (many had notepads at the ready!) and even a bit of cheering at the end! It was also the 1st in our new home, the W Hotels. Here are some lessons learned from the evening:
- Valerie Tomasello, VP E-Commerce, Tory Burch
- Maryssa Miller, Director, E-Commerce, Lacoste
- Nana Brew-Hammond, Style Editor/Content Manager, Bluefly
- Dan Sackrowitz, Bare Necessities
Online & Offline selling must act as a cohesive unit
It’s no longer one vs the other. To be successful, stores must coordinate with their web counterparts to ensure a consistent message and be where the customer is (which often means both places). The key is to highlight and take advantage of the strengths of both: touch and experience offline and sight and selection online, for example. All 4 panelists echoed this in varying degrees.
Cooperate with Channels to the extent that you can
Your customers all have their preferences as to where they want to find and experience you. Embrace that. Know that you can’t completely control every experience where your brand lives. Be aware of it. Make big changes when necessary. Accept some things you may not completely embrace….if that’s what is making your customer a happy one.
Engage your customer and fans
Bluefly really connects to their customer base via a blog done right. Tory Burch is discovering that her fans love being a small part of her world via Tory on Twitter. In the midst of the MeetUp, people were even Twiterring commentary and questions. They want to engage with brands they care about. These 4 brands get that. Their execution may be different and their deep understanding of the ways to achieve it is still evolving, but the direction is clear.
Search still rules…and what that means
Organic or paid, no matter. Customers look for you via search. Better not ignore that/them or you’ll lose them. To a person, everyone emphasized how key that remains. It’s just a way of doing business.
Don’t fight it
Tory Burch is obviously a part of the Gilt, Rue-la-la, etc. sales channel but figured they could do it too. Enter Tory Burch Private Sale, a success. Bare Necessities embraces traffic and exposure from any avenue (even it seems counter-productive) if that’s how the customer wants to find them. Lacoste makes their emails less promotional and more interactive and doesn’t fret about change, even as that channel evolves away form it’s original use case. Theme: flexibility…or die.
10 years ago, everyone predicted the demise of brick and mortar retailing. Not the case, obviously. In fact, the overriding theme from last night seemed to be: You must look at your business from a holistic point of view through the lens of your customer’s eye. What do they want? Where are they? How do I engage them? It’s less a question of old versus new than it is a much more complete experience from the moment a design for a shoe is conceived to the time it is put on a foot heading out for a night on the town….and all the pointing, clicking, oohh’ing and ahh’ing in between.