Barneys: A Consistent Message Is Paramount

The only certain way to win over the omnichannel shopper is “to make sure the message is consistent and entertaining,” said Daniella Vitale, the retailer's coo.

At Barneys New York, the name of the game is consistency.

This story first appeared in the September 26, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“Even when we launched the Warehouse Sale site, the look and feel was the same as the Barneys Web site. We want to be sure our messaging is clear,” said Daniella Vitale, Barneys’ chief operating officer and senior executive vice president.


Barneys, which sells about 800 brands, has a knack for introducing new designers and offering exclusive products, and in the age of the Internet, that strategy extends to all channels of distribution, noted Vitale. “We don’t believe in creating online exclusives, or Madison Avenue exclusives,” Vitale said, referring to Barneys’ Madison Avenue flagship in Manhattan. The only certain way to win over the omnichannel shopper is “to make sure the message is consistent and entertaining.”

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According to Vitale, who oversees Barneys’ e-commerce and e-business strategy as well as women’s merchandising and store operations, the omnichannel shopper represents the fastest-growing consumer base and shops four times more than those who just stick to stores, catalogues or Web sites. In addition, they “know more than we do” and they pay close attention to what’s going on in the digital space, she said.

Vitale maintained that in the race to cater to the omnichannel consumer, Barneys has an advantage — a streamlined organization. There’s one team at Barneys with one point of view that’s been building the look, feel and strategies for the brick-and-mortar and direct businesses. “The biggest mistake is creating organizations — silos,” Vitale said. “There is no consistency. We’ve been going in the opposite direction.”

In an organization with a unified approach, Barneys redesigned barneys.com with  “a lot that actually had the physical stores and windows in mind,” Vitale said.

Further advancing in the digital space, Barneys has been equipping sales associates with iPads for mobile point of sale and inventory lookup. Barneys also has a jeans bar that’s “a completely digitalized experience.”

“Sales people are incented with extra commission for every time that they use Web inventory to fill a sale,” Vitale said. Barneys will also be launching a new mobile site with “a very clear redesign making it a very shoppable site.”

She cited “The Window,” Barneys’ editorial-driven Web site with features on designers, brands and Barneys employees.  “Most people put up content for the sake of putting up content,” Vitale said. The Window, however, enables users to shop, tag favorite items and create ensembles.