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DailyLook has taken a step toward strengthening its brand identity by bringing on board Shefali Khanna as chief merchandising officer.
Khanna, previously vice president of women’s merchandising at Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. and divisional merchandise manager for Free People at Urban Outfitters Inc., is the e-commerce Web site’s first major hire since securing $2.5 million in funding earlier this year from GRP Partners, RRE, SV Angel, Novel TMT Ventures and Rachel Zoe, among others. Los Angeles-based DailyLook offers inexpensive head-to-toe outfits for shoppers mostly 18- to 30-years-old.
Brian Ree, founder and chief executive officer of DailyLook, referred to Khanna as DailyLook’s “Jenna Lyons,” the creative director of J. Crew. “We are now at a place where we have almost 3,000 unique items being purchased on the site. We have to tighten up our brand edit moving forward and really develop a cohesive brand,” he said. “I’m the ceo, and I have lots of other hats to wear. The foundation of this business is how great our merchandise is and how on-trend we stay. I need someone that can be dedicated and passionate about that every single day.”
With some 15 years in the fashion industry under her belt, mostly at large retailers, DailyLook appealed to Khanna because she yearned for an entrepreneurial environment. “What I like most is telling a story, and building a brand and a team. I felt like this was a great platform for doing all of the above. E-commerce is something that I had been very interested in,” she said.
When DailyLook launched in November 2011, it was modeled on a flash-sale approach and relied on merchandise from third-party labels. Today, it still unveils a new complete look daily — as many as four a day, in fact — but keeps items from past days available, and has moved away from third-party labels in favor of cultivating its own brand.
The responsibility for differentiating DailyLook’s merchandise falls on the shoulders of Khanna. “We cannot be dependent on third parties to make our assortment plan. We need to do our own sourcing,” she said. “I’m working with a few people right now to get that going so that we can control what we want to stand for instead of being at their [third parties’] mercy.”
In about two months, DailyLook plans to offer a style quiz in order to more fully understand the style profiles of its customers. Those profiles can help Khanna’s merchandising efforts, which she anticipates focusing increasingly around occasions, emotions and personalities. “What is happening in her life?” Khanna said she asks constantly about the DailyLook customer.
DailyLook is attracting about 750,000 visitors a month and has 450,000 members. Approximately 60 percent of its sales are from clothes, and accessories, including shoes and bags, account for the remainder. Customers buy on average 2.4 items per transaction. The Web site recently introduced international shipping.
“In our first year since launch, we were profitable half the time. We were being very resourceful in growing the business. That’s why we raised money. We have been really focused on building out product and the brand, and that takes a lot of investment. We just want to continue growing what is working and invest aggressively, and that’s our plan moving forward,” said Ree. “In five years, our goal is to be very similar to a Topshop or an H&M except that when people think about us they think we are the leader in styling.”