MILAN — Gucci is bringing its new strategy to the Web.
The brand has relaunched its Web site in North America to reflect its new path under president and chief executive officer Marco Bizzarri and creative director Alessandro Michele. The site has rich imagery, editorial content and storytelling, with the goal of strengthening consumers’ connection to the label.
“The digital world is increasingly the first point of contact for the consumer, whether they buy on the site or not,” said Bizzarri in an exclusive interview. Bizzarri underscored the urgency of communication and how “consistency and focus” are playing an increasingly bigger role in e-tailing.
A very high percentage of consumers first gets information on the site, which becomes the “center of communication. Going forward, I believe from now on for the communication of the brand we should first think of the Web site as the focal point and all the different tools that rotate around it to give consistency to the message,” he added.
Gucci’s new site, which launched in the U.S. and Canada this past weekend, has been entirely redesigned under the creative direction of Michele, whose design vision will be highlighted in a new section called “The Agenda.” Bizzarri stressed the importance of presenting the designer’s “point of view in a clearer and expanded way,” whatever the size of the brand.
“The one-on-one relationship is fundamental and in luxury in particular,” the ceo explained, since consumers are looking to express their own individualism. He pointed out that Michele’s work has been leading “in the direction of emotion and individualism,” and that the new site allows “to emphasize the emotions, details and the things he likes.” At such a time of change for Gucci, Bizzarri believes that “the more we talk and communicate, the more we explain, the better it is.”
Asked about the relevance of a creative director, Bizzarri said it’s “fundamental, especially in luxury, and increasingly more so. [The industry] runs the risk of becoming too marketing-driven.” The risk is losing “uniqueness,” he observed. “I believe it’s very important for luxury, and fashion, to speak with emotions.”
Bizzarri hasn’t lost time in overturning the status quo at Gucci, with his arrival at the brand in January and shortly after, promoting Michele to the top job to succeed Frida Giannini. The executive, whose speedy resolutions are mirrored by his own fast-paced train of thought, made a case for flexibility and innovation. “Fashion reacts quickly to changes and things can be done quickly also in big structures such as Gucci. Independent of the number of people you manage, of the complexity of the organization and the processes, in reality, the beauty of our world is that it’s very reactive to changes.”
Gucci’s new site is optimized to fit all screen sizes, with vertical scrolling, larger photos and intuitive navigation. Together with the images, video modules and content vignettes appear on the homepage. Pages are dedicated to runway collections, signature items and special accessory projects, interspersed with enhanced content, including detailed photo mosaics, videos and “Wear With” looks. The product pages feature a detailed zoom function and a scroll of alternative product angles.
Aiming at “seamless service,” salespeople can search the site and stores anywhere in the world to look for products that are not locally available. Bizzarri underscored that, to boost its omnichannel service, Gucci in February changed its organizational structure. “All presidents of the regions, the director of e-commerce, the director of wholesale respond to one single person, who is actually the one that has the responsibility of all contacts with consumers. I think this is quite innovative in the sector within a structure, but the idea was for the consumers to be seen internally as one,” independently of the channel. “Systems and people are in line.”
Gucci was a pioneer in luxury e-commerce, first launching its site in 2002. “Adjustments take longer in the physical world, while you can react really very quickly in the digital world,” said Bizzarri. Speed is a must on a Web site. “If you make a mistake you can’t keep it there or if you have an opportunity, you can’t think of not exploiting it. For this reason, the ability to adapt to a change quickly or more quickly compared with physical distribution becomes key. If you start early on, you have less experience and less terms of comparison,” he said, but you also have the advantage of being ahead and having a stronger team develop over time. “In this particular sector, it becomes key.”
Gucci is launching first in the U.S. as this “is the most important digital market” for the company. “Historically American consumers in terms of attention to e-commerce and digital are more advanced than anyone else.” Bizzarri also highlighted the “more consolidated and more mature infrastructure” in the U.S. While acknowledging that Chinese consumers are “very advanced” and attentive to the digital world and e-tailing, Gucci is aiming at perfecting the tool before launching in other markets. The new gucci.com will be rolled out in Europe, Australia and Asia in 2016.
Asked about site-specific products, Bizzarri said this is not a strategy for Gucci, or a “differentiating factor,” as the company would rather opt for “a consistent and coordinated product. We don’t want to create this kind of exclusivity because the risk is to turn every channel into a sort of bazaar where you can always find something special, but that is not necessarily consistent” with the brand. “I believe in consistency.”
“The risk, when you become a big structure, is to try and satisfy all kinds of consumer,” he underscored. On the contrary, “the bigger you become, the more you must be careful on how you propose the brand, because the risk of diluting it becomes enormous. Especially now, in a sector so crowded, trying to satisfy everyone is, I believe, a huge mistake for a brand, because you must convey a very clear message.”
The existing e-commerce site is enabled in 28 countries and available in eight languages, counting more than 100 million unique visitors worldwide annually.