Andrea Panconesi

LuisaViaRoma is making its official debut in the gaming world.

The Florence-based luxury retailer, which was a pioneer of the e-commerce business launching an online store in 1999, is now investing in another cutting-edge project aimed at creating a deeper, more engaging interaction with its customers.

From Monday, the store’s users will have the chance to register to a special mailing list enabling priority access to Mod4, the company’s new app fusing a real shopping experience with a virtual interactive game.

Through the app, users will be able to create their own customized avatar choosing their look, hairstyle and makeup and then will have access to a box filled with virtual ready-to-wear and accessories pieces to style their avatar. Users will also have the opportunity to get additional fashion boxes by winning special challenges or to directly buy them on the app.

“I’ve always thought that taking up new challenges is essential to find innovative ways to talk about fashion,” said LuisaViaRoma chief executive officer Andrea Panconesi. “This app, which enables users to play with fashion and at the same time interact with other people, really reflects the way the new generations love to stay connected.”

Developed inside the company by a team guided by Panconesi and LuisaViaRoma head of digital marketing Marco Ritratti, Mod4 was conceived combining three different inspirations: the concept of digital scarcity, 2017’s blockchain game CryptoKitties, enabling players to purchase, collect, breed and sell virtual cats, as well as the idea of exclusive drops.

LuisaViaRoma's Mod4 App

LuisaViaRoma’s Mod4 app. 

Combining these three ideas, Ritratti had the seminal idea for the app, which he presented to Panconesi during an informal meeting in the company’s kitchen. “He immediately reacted positively and after a year of hard work we are ready to present the beta version,” Ritratti said.

Based on the traditional concept of dress-up game, Mod4, which also features an internal social network where users can show their styling efforts, guarantees a sort of meritocratic dynamics, enabling the most talented users to have access to special items.

“We wanted to disrupt the classic idea of influencers. With Mod4, it’s not enough to be pretty or photogenic to be successful, you have to show your talent,” Ritratti said. “We want to move from the idea of influencer to that of self creator.”

While LuisaViaRoma expects that the new app will be mainly successful among people aged 18 to 30, more mature users will probably enjoy the “wish list” functionality, where they can simply create styles with the products available in the store’s catalogue.

“We created a direct interaction between the game and the LuisaViaRoma online store,” Ritratti said. “We are offering users loyalty points guaranteeing special offers at the e-commerce.”

Asked about the main goals of this new project, Panconesi said that “if we would have a clear idea of where we go, we would not enjoy the journey so much. When you deal with the digital world, you have to be flexible, fast, and ready to find unexpected solutions.”

Commenting the effects of the coronavirus crisis on the fashion industry, Panconesi said that the emergency accelerated a digitalization process, which “in normal conditions would have happened in two or three years. A crisis definitely enables to discover new opportunities, find new ideas and accelerate the business.”

Panconesi also thinks that this crisis will push to reconsider the importance of stores for local communities. “In our country, in the past, stores served as major source of information about fashion for their customers. Now, information is much easier to find, but I think that retailers will have to use this moment to reaffirm their leading roles at a local level,” he said.