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."
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews
@prada is introducing a new project at its men’s fall 2018 show this Sunday: “Prada Invites.” The fashion house invited four celebrated creative minds – @ronanaerwanbouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, @herzogdemeuron and @rem.koolhaas – to each create a unique item with its iconic nylon material. The designs will be unveiled on the runway show, which will take place at the company’s warehouse in Viale Ortles 25. #wwdfashion #mfwm (📷: @martinocarrera)
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion