Elton Graham, vice president of e-commerce at Kellwood Co., offered advice to brands trying to make it in the digital space.
With more than 15 years of experience in the digital and e-commerce arena, Graham previously headed e-commerce for apparel start-up Nasty Gal, helping it achieve online sales in 2012 of more than $100 million. Earlier he held e-commerce roles at James Perse, Shopzilla and Wet Seal.
Graham took the opportunity to address several myths about e-commerce. First of all, he said it’s not true that only the young are online, that it’s for early adopters and nerds, and that you need to try on an item before you buy it. It’s also not true that people won’t buy high-ticket items such as cars, homes and luxury jewelry online.
Every age group is now online, high-ticket items are selling well, and look at how Zappos built a $1 billion footwear business, selling shoes without trying them on first, he said. “Once you start to shop online, you can’t break the habit,” said Graham, who bought a car online in 1997 and has continued to buy everything he needs online ever since.
Graham said one misstep in his career was passing up the opportunity to work at Amazon. “It was probably a big mistake. Looking in hindsight, it did give me a gift. I’ve been watching Amazon extremely closely,” he said. If you talk to the highest-level chief executives in corporate America, there’s one company they’re all fearful of and that’s Amazon, said Graham. “They’re not just a pioneer in the space, they’re an inventor. That’s the one piece of advice I’d give the whole audience here. You should watch Amazon daily and understand how they’re changing the business and how they’re changing expectations of consumers a lot,” he said.
Graham said if you’re a brand considering going online, it’s important to separate all the hype from the reality. You need to figure out what does social media mean, what does omnichannel mean and what does mobile mean to your brand’s DNA.
The biggest rock out there, and the one everyone wants to climb, is apparel. In 2011, online apparel sales in the U.S. were $34 billion. They grew to $41 billion last year, and according to eMarketer, are forecast to grow to $73 billion by 2016, accounting for close to 20 percent of all e-commerce transactions in the U.S.
But if a brand wants to sell direct, it is going to have to compete for a piece of its e-commerce business with department and specialty stores’ Web sites and pure plays, which are hungry for brands. He pointed to Tory Burch, which did $760 million in sales last year. He noted that it has a strong Web site, international sites and mobile apps but only has sales of $113 million online. “This is a problem. If you’re only getting 15 percent of your revenues based on e-commerce, you won’t have the funds to invest in e-commerce. Expect your [e-commerce] business if you’re an apparel brand to flatten out at 15 percent,” he said.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
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