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AMSTERDAM — Tommy Hilfiger is sounding the death knell for the physical showroom.

The brand, a division of PVH Corp., today launched a digital sales showroom located at its global headquarters here that eliminates the need for samples.

Hilfiger believes the format, which eventually will replace all its physical showrooms worldwide, will establish an industry benchmark for business-to-business sales.

The interactive system relies on a large touchscreen table that connects to a 13-foot-high wall-to-wall grid of ultra-high-definition screens with a resolution of 4,000 pixels. It allows buyers to digitally view the Tommy Hilfiger sportswear and Hilfiger Denim collections and to create personalized orders that are stored in the system.

“This is something that will revolutionize the fashion business,” Daniel Grieder, chief executive officer of Tommy Hilfiger, told WWD.

“It will change the whole process of order-taking in the industry, I’m convinced of that,” he added. “You don’t have to fly these samples in by plane, you don’t need these huge showrooms anymore, so it has a positive impact from A to Z.”

Hilfiger developed the concept internally and has been beta testing it with its wholesale partners for six months.

Users of the touchscreen table are greeted by a personalized short movie and can then navigate through inspiration films detailing the brand’s history, as well as key looks from the season’s collections, divided by drop dates. Assortments are laid out on a blank background on which items can be dragged and dropped.

The line book comes with a search tool that allows users to find products by category, color, fabric or fit. Buyers can also use iPad minis equipped with comparison tools to make their selection.

The digital showroom comes with a zoom feature to highlight product details and textures, while staples — including polo shirts and jeans — can be viewed in 360 degrees. Hilfiger will initially provide fabric swatchbooks to complement the online presentation, though these, too, will eventually be phased out.

At the end of the order process, buyers receive a PDF summarizing their selection together with another PDF containing marketing material.

“Our unique digital showroom concept is a juxtaposition of craft and innovation,” company founder Tommy Hilfiger said. “The platform reflects values which are at the heart of our brand DNA: entrepreneurial, inspirational, surprising, inclusive and accessible. We believe this is the sales experience of the future and look forward to working with our retail partners in this exciting new setup.”

Grieder said initial reaction to the digital showroom has been overwhelmingly positive, and he expects to roll out the tool to between six and 12 other locations in June. Within two to three years, all the company’s showrooms worldwide — currently numbering between 50 and 60 — should be equipped with the technology.

Hilfiger, whose wholesale business represents 50 percent to 60 percent of revenues, also wants to set up digital showrooms in cities where it does not have a presence, with Hong Kong and Moscow at the top of the list.

Though he did not provide an estimate of the savings generated by the new equipment, Grieder noted that the return on investment on a digital showroom is lower than one year, with a cost roughly equivalent to what the company would spend on samples in a 12-month period.

“The whole cycle will be shorter and that makes the whole business more efficient,” he said, noting that sample production takes around six weeks.

The system is also more sustainable, as it not only reduces the environmental impact of sample creation, from the supply chain and manufacturing to packaging and shipping, but also eliminates the need for printed order forms.

Hilfiger is so convinced of the validity of the approach that it plans to eventually share the technology with competitors.

“We haven’t thought about if we want to sell it to them. Maybe we go to Google and help them to develop it further, or they help us to develop it further. But I think we should not keep that as a secret just for us,” Grieder said.

The concept should filter through to Hilfiger’s retail stores as they continue to evolve to support an omnichannel approach. Online sales account for 10 percent to 12 percent of the brand’s revenues and are rapidly growing, he noted.

“Brick-and-mortar stores will never die, but I think they will change,” Grieder said, predicting that future stores will combine digital presentations, entertainment and traditional retail.

The company plans to open a new flagship in Paris in February, but further openings this year will depend on how fast the new digitally integrated retail concept can be developed, Grieder said, indicating the brand was zeroing in on a location in Shanghai.

The executive said business was “booming” in China, India and South America. It is strong in other parts of Asia, as well as European markets such as Germany, France and the U.K. Challenging spots include Italy, Greece and South Korea, as well as the U.S., where price competition remains fierce, he added.

“We are globally well-positioned, and we are an anchor brand for most of our customers. We are lucky because when we lose in one region, we make it up in another region. So our overall business is performing to our plans, and that means also better than last year, clearly,” Grieder said.

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