Retailers need to fully embrace technology.

King & Partners is collaborating with the CFDA to improve designers’ online presence. The initiative comes at a time when brands are limiting the amount of inventory sold to third-party retailers in an effort to realize vertical supply chains.

Founder and creative director Tony King offers a suite of services to clients of his namesake agency. From digital and social media strategies to web site development, King has fostered the digital footprint of Marc Jacobs fragrances, ABC Carpet and Home and Bottega Veneta.

Tony King

Tony King 

One of the King’s newer extensions, Sellect offers ground-up e-commerce platforms for online fashion and lifestyle experiences. As CFDA aims to cultivate and advance U.S. designers, the alignment comes at a pertinent time as e-commerce evolves into mobile-commerce. Here, King discussions the program and its goals.

WWD: What was the genesis of the CFDA collaboration?

Tony King: I was previously a CFDA Incubator mentor and came to realize that many of the more established CFDA brands still needed guidance around digital and e-commerce. King & Partners has teamed up with the CFDA to provide guidance around three key components of e-commerce success: A well-designed and fully responsive e-commerce web site with good content, a scalable and easy-to-use e-commerce platform and brand awareness through targeted site traffic.

The CFDA has given us access to some of America’s most exciting fashion brands. In return we are meeting with these brands to learn about their digital pain-points and their goals and provide guidance on how to grow their online business.

WWD: How are market demands driving brands to step up their m-commerce/e-commerce game?

T.K.: Retailers increasingly recognize that their most valuable customers are multichannel shoppers….While this can be an opportunity for retailers, it also means that they must work extra hard to cultivate customer loyalty and offer a consistent quality customer experience regardless of where the interaction happens.

An eMarketer report shows that 78 percent of U.K. Internet users would make a switch to another retailer following a bad digital purchase experience this past holiday season. Retailers need to get every piece of the e-commerce offering right — a good site user experience, customer service, fulfillment, easy shipping and returns and an e-commerce platform that can support every system integration. We want to help demystify this for CFDA brands and highlight at what point investment is most needed.

WWD: When meeting with brands for these sessions, what are main objectives?

T.K.: Most of the brands are just a few years into e-commerce and still seeing relatively small numbers. They all have in common a need to evolve, they see the potential and it’s time to take e-commerce and digital marketing seriously.

Most of the brands do not have the internal resources to analyze where they should improve and invest. We can help put forward a plan of action for e-commerce growth. Fashion brands also struggle with technology that’s outdated or cumbersome for a small internal team to manage, or are on platforms that they have outgrown. Many brands had a nice solution to launch their online stores, but now need to evolve. They recognize that Sellect’s e-commerce platform is a more scalable and robust solution.

We have met with around 20 of the CFDA brands and are in talks to help several of the initial group.

WWD: Some e-commerce pioneers such as Stephan Schambach note that retail and fashion apparel brands are woefully behind the curve with mobile commerce. Do you agree?

T.K.: In short, yes. A mobile site should be more than a scaled-down desktop experience. We should be playing to the medium and to the mobile nature. The mobile web experience has to compete with the ease and slickness of an app — that’s not easy.

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