SAN FRANCISCO — On Monday, a group of e-commerce “It” girls shared their strategies for capitalizing on the digital market. On stage were Google head of industry, fashion and luxury brands Lisa Green; Moda Operandi cofounder Lauren Santo Domingo; The RealReal founder and chief executive officer Julie Wainwright, and Glossier founder and ceo Emily Weiss.
Trending during the discussion were various approaches for reaching beyond the digital divide to understand and communicate with the customer.
In the case of Moda Operandi, Santo Domingo said that she could tell through the data immediately what was good and when something was exciting on the runway. “We know within seven minutes if a collection is going to be a commercial success,” she said at the Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit here.
The site then shares that information with the designer. “The clothes go down the runway, and we can say, ‘This off-the-shoulder blouse? We just sold 500,’ and that can be the biggest order they’ve done in their entire career.”
While this concept of “crowdsourcing” to discern popular opinion might be current, Weiss said it was just a new word for an old-school idea.
“Crowdsourcing is a funny word but that is just a fancy way of saying you are listening to your customer,” she said. Glossier, a beauty line that is sold only on Glossier.com, is digital first, which allows for methods of involving the customer and collecting feedback. But not, she said, in an inauthentic, marketing-driven way. “Consumers can sniff this out immediately. It’s about understanding what the customer wants.”
Green said digital tools allow brands a platform to connect with both existing customers and new ones to share the brand ethos. Unsurprisingly, she specifically highlighted Google-owned YouTube. Gucci, which used digital tools to share the point of view of new designer Alessandro Michele, and Chanel were both brands who got it right, she said.
Although the discussion was primarily focused on the digital realm — apparel and accessories generally being the largest e-commerce category — the majority of apparel and accessories are still bought in stores, Green pointed out, and mobile phones help bridge those worlds.
“When someone is in a store, how do you talk to them?” Green said, highlighting Sephora, Alexander McQueen and Burberry as those that had jumped on this trend. “People would rather look at their phone than talk to an associate. Connecting these dots will be the future.”
For her part, Santo Domingo said that the ubiquitous scrolling of digital shopping had informed her vision for the Moda Operandi showroom experience in London, and that more locations were in the works for places including Dubai, New York and China. “Amazon has trained us to scroll and then pounce on the things we like,” she said. “Our customer has been trained to shop online in a certain way and her in-store experience needs to reflect her new way of shopping.”
Finally, she said that the trend of see-now-buy-now was something that was dependent on each brand. For example, the former magazine editor said, Zara doing a show during haute couture season is “ridiculous,” as is Chanel going straight to market. “Designers feel a lot of pressure to present in the same way as the big European houses, but there are too many doing it, and we have to filter to pick out what is good and worthy of attention,” she said. “I see this as being more of a correction.”