During a program filled with talk of all things digital, Ian Ginsberg, president of C.O. Bigelow, brought the crowd back to the physical world with a presentation centered on the in-store experience. “There was a time many years ago when people shopped in stores,” began Ginsberg. “They did it not because it was convenient, but because they wanted to. They did it because it made them feel good.”
For Ginsberg, it is precisely this feel-good factor that keeps consumers coming to his 175-year-old apothecary, which houses an eclectic mix of classic, luxury and indie beauty and personal care offerings from across the globe. “Shopping is an opportunity to lose oneself, fantasize, touch, feel, try on, test-drive, dream, and you can’t do that online,” he said. “Is she sitting at the computer smelling the lavender from Provence? Is she touching that luxurious body cream from Tuscany? Is she trying on that hair accessory and able to ask your opinion? Is Warby Parker enough?”
Ginsberg said that while the convenience of online shopping is certainly a draw, consumers still crave something intangible, something they can get only through personal interchange. “The DVD didn’t kill movie theaters and the Internet is not going to kill retail, but we can kill retail,” he warned.
Ginsberg punctuated his point by sharing some of his grievances with the experience at other retail locations. Among them: uninterested sales people, faceless transactions, too many questions at checkout and “scripted, faux-caring insincere greetings,” like, “What can I help you discover today?”
“I don’t even know how to answer that question,” he quipped.
For Ginsberg, honesty and interaction are at the crux of his business model. Employees — who are trained on emotional components of the stock — are told to focus less on sell-through, and more on engagement. “Instead of jumping into product, how about a little skin-care 101?” said Ginsberg. “I don’t care how many [online] videos [customers] watch, sometimes they need validation from a sales associate.”
In addition to helping validate a purchase, employees at C.O. Bigelow, which also serves as a pharmacy, are instructed to keep interaction personal and upbeat. “Ask [the consumer] about her routine,” he said. “Talk to her like a friend. Put some blush on her. Have her try a new lip gloss. Give her a hand massage. Touch her in a way that makes her feel better about herself. Make her want to come back.”
Ginsberg said staff members are encouraged to follow up with customers, including those coming in for medicinal items. “We’ll call the mom three days after we give the antibiotics [for her child] to see how the kid’s doing,” he said. “The doctor doesn’t do it and the Internet doesn’t do it and the mom loves it.”
Ginsberg said another focus is constantly refreshing the in-store layout, much like a retailer would on a homepage, for a renewed feeling of discovery. “The shopper wants to feel the thrill of conquering the world when they leave with something they didn’t necessarily need and they can’t wait to get home to use it,” he said. While Ginsberg admitted the digital world is far from shrinking, he concluded with the reminder that brick-and-mortar retailers have a unique opportunity to touch consumers far beyond the touch screen.
“We find it our job to educate and supplement what [consumers have] learned online,” said Ginsberg. “They’ve been on the Web site. They’ve read the reviews. They know everything — but they really don’t. They’re coming to you for help, otherwise they’d stay home."
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye