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.
@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
“I’m Russian and I love to use all these little tricks that I got from my grandma or my mom. We didn’t have a lot of money for creams or anything like that so we would use a garden as a beauty treatment regime. We’d put cucumber in the fridge and do a cucumber mask,” says model @irinashayk on one of her beauty hacks. WWD asked celebs what their go-to self-care rituals are. See what Naomie Harris, Freida Pinto and more said on WWD.com. #wwdeye #wwdbeauty (📷: @zefashioninsider)
Exclusive: @viktorandrolf are teaming up with @Zalando on a collection made from leftover clothing. The lineup, which lands at the retailer February 1, includes 17 pieces adorned with sliced up and repurposed overstock from the retailer’s private label collection. Pictured here is a look from the collection –– see more on WWD.com. #wwdfashion #wwdnews
@duewestnyc is the newest bar joining the collection of intimate neighborhood-focused spaces in the West Village. The cocktail menu, which includes bitters and syrups made in-house, offers a “Build Your Own Old-Fashioned” – like the one pictured here – where guests can choose from a list of spirits and unexpected sugars and bitters. #wwdeye
Spotted at last night’s National Board of Review gala in NYC: Angelina Jolie. Jolie – along with Meryl Streep, @lupitanyongo and more – continued the all-black dress code from Sunday’s Golden Globes. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)