Fashion Digital LA recently wrapped up at the Director's Guild of America and what a powerful conference it was. I met upper-level executives from Nordstrom, ShoeDazzle, Jurlique, numerous smaller fashion brands like Apliq and Ellie, and major tech companies like Google, Amazon and more.
This is my kinda conference - where tech intersects fashion and people have been in the business a little longer than their 20's, but they're there to liven things up too like the founder of Apliiq.
Founded in 2008, Apliiq is a customizable clothing company that collects rare, deadstock and recognizable textiles and applies them to everyday garments. (From his press release.) Aren't these cute?
The reason I enjoy fashion is I have an AA in Fashion Merchandising, represented a few stylists, worked in retail for five years and have covered LA Fashion Week and other major fashion events across the country for over 7 years. My wardrobe may not always reflect the latest fashions, but if money was no object I would be a fashionista!:)
I love hearing amazing fashion icons discuss their passions, business practices and experiences in this realm. Especially as I continue to build my online women's community for female travelers. I always find you learn something from everyone regardless of whether or not it's in your exact industry. This one just happened to fit in perfectly with what I'm working on.
Smart people's practices translate across every industry.
And smart people were there at the DGA in full force. First up, was Lubov Azria, Chief Creative Officer, BCBGMAXAZRIA GROUP, who was interviewed by Annie Georgia Greenberg of Refinery 29, both true fashionistas.
Lubov was warm, gracious, humble and nothing like I expected from one of the world's most recognizable tastemakers. And Annie was a very good moderator, not injecting herself into every question. What a breath of fresh air!
Sometimes younger fashion people can be so snobby and none of the speakers, attendees, and vendors at Digital Fashion LA were anything like that which was really refreshing. It was an extremely professional conference on many, many levels. I was very impressed. Green Pearl knows what they are doing.
Back to the conversation.
Lubov explained rather than selling a brand, she feels they are selling a lifestyle. I heard that a lot from many of the speakers and it made sense. She also explained the simple truth, "No one needs more clothes." That's why her company focused on consumer's wants vs. needs and catered to those who really believe in the brand, in particular, her elite customers - those who spend money. She stated that 20 elite customers can bring in 1 million in sales. Whoa!
Her motto is based on Henry Ford's quote, "If I asked people what they wanted, I would have heard faster horses, but I made cars." She wants to inspire people to live inspirationally. She also said they are driven by providing a mix of high and low design, not merchant driven.
Now this is the part I found fascinating and other e-tailers will too potentially. When asked her e-commerce strategy, Lubov said they believe in engagement specializing in how the customer goes on their site. They listen to customer feedback, consider communication very important and make it easy for the consumer. They also believe in Geo targeting, use Facebook, emails, and blogger partnerships - they create events because both experiences online and in-store are very important.
See? Us bloggers are important!:)
Lubov supports a charity helping disadvantaged children and was touched to hear a young child had enjoyed her site because it's "the store that's open and never closes. It's fun and you can shop whenever you want." Thus, providing a small escape from the harsh realities of this child's life.
When asked by the moderator for an example of another company doing it right, Lubov offered Net-A-Port as an example of catering to consumers as a brand that does it best. She loved the whole experience of buying from them - the smell, the art and the packaging. Packaging is key! Made me want to buy something just to see what she was talking about!:)
Back to online though, she did share they are limiting their partnerships to keep consistency with their brand. Too many people don't properly use logos, colors or style which affects the brand overall. It's very important to stick to your brand dna - be very clear to your customer who you are. People buy because of what you do. The company's main focus now is on personalizing the experience across all platforms and methods of outreach. She wasn't the only speaker to mention that either.
Many were limiting affiliate marketing except for Pinterest to keep their content consistent with their brand. Currently, BCBG is redesigning the site, including more video (great to hear since that's something I'm including in mine!) with bigger windows, more zoom ability - making it so the customer doesn't have to think and making it easier, more effortless through digital.
She kinda pooh poohed many of the 360 camera shots of images claiming video was much more interesting and engaged more consumers.
However, for many companies I'm sure it's a viable alternative. Plus, as a consumer, I like those visuals. What I hate are tiny thumbnails that make it hard to see the image. Otherwise, I'm cool with seeing it rotate and find it fun to spin the product.:)
Lubov wasn't the only person to say video was key throughout the day either. Both Mary Cooney, AVP - eCommerce, Kérastase & Shu Uemura Art of Hair (seen above) and Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Founder & CEO, Joyus.com said basically the same thing. (Loved her site name.:)
Here's a fun example from Joyus: Sukhinder said with video there is more of an implicit trust because people don't feel like they're being sold to. It's just part of an authentic story about the brand. She said it's rare that the founders are involved in the actual video because she preferred to use Network Chefs, stylists, makeup artists and others who are known and unknown to tell the story.
One interesting tool they also employ is adding the shopping cart right in the video making it very easy for the consumer to purchase if they like what they're watching. "We want our customer to be serendipitous," said Sukhinder. "Video is very impactful."
Her company uses curation with a trusted personality aligning with the woman they are selling to which creates a user experience akin to discovery. There's a direct connection to the consumer similar to many of the popular direct selling companies like J. Hilburn which was mentioned in another session.
David Towers, Vice President – Ecommerce, Wet Seal's advice regarding how video is presented was to keep it short, focus on one item, 2-3 min max, and don't give too many choices. A sample merchandising formula is to create a look, but don't talk about everything. Keep the focus on one product.
Good advice, don't you agree?
That said, make sure it's viable from multiple viewpoints - ie Kindle, cell, mobile and PC. David feels mobile is taking over with his demographic - teenagers. That's why he felt it was very important to have a responsive design.
Eric Koger, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, along with his wife/partner, Susan Gregg Koger, Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder, ModCloth, agreed during their session too. With over 1 million sales in 2012 alone, I think I'll listen to what they have to say.
They employ many cute marketing programs that have been extremely successful in engaging their community. They keep their product line live on the web forever and as a result, any time someone is shopping if they see something they like, Modcloth will accomodate their request if enough people click their "I need it" button. This allows Modcloth to bring back outdated and sold-out items according to customer demand.
It also provides Modcloth with an accurate assessment of customer trends. Another cute idea was having a "love list" which entails clicking a heart similar to a "like" button on Facebook. There was a much higher engagement on mobile with this. When someone clicks the heart button, cute phrases pop up like, "XOXO" or "We were made for each other." The person who came up with all of those had a lot of fun creating these phrases!
Interesting facts presented throughout the day on conversion rates were as follows:
- A good e-commerce site will have a 20% conversion rate.
- A bricks-n-mortar store will have a 20-30% conversion rate.
- Modcloth receives 40% of their traffic from mobile and that has doubled since January. Weekends are growing for interaction and Wed too with Thanksgiving their highest sales. They surmised all their users were probably sneaking in shopping while visiting relatives.:)
- Modcloth has experienced a 40% increase in revenue every year. They have found installing an app makes a user shop more.
- They aren't the only company to benefit from mobile. 21% of all users buy 44% of the volume sales. 25%+ are Paypal active and 10% of all payments are made on mobile. Overall transactions are 38%. Now this is the fact that really blew me away. Did you know that Ebay has 112 million active users whereas PayPal has 123 million? That's amazing to me.
On Gorjana Griffin, 88% have PayPal accounts and customers spent 2.5 million on Ebay during a 12 month period. Wallets were the top sellers with Louis Vuitton and Chanel in the 25 - 50 dollar range were the highest purchases. This fact was courtesy Roy Rubin, Co-Founder, Co-General Manager & COO, Magento if memory and my notes hold true.
3. If someone buys online and picks it up in person, there is a 300% conversion rate.
Interesting fact, isn't it? The experience in the "physical" world is still very important.
Now one program that kept coming up throughout the day as a way to track this online activity was InSparq. It tracks customers as they interact socially. Helps a marketer learn who is driving traffic to your site and then provides a way for you to use that info to segment your audience.
Kinda creepy to the lay person, but as a marketer, you really do want to know what is making your readers, viewers, shoppers "click." How do you like that play on words?:) Many, many of the top online retailers were using it and the Insparq moderator was very sharp. If I were an ecommerce site, I would recommend checking it out. The other popular one was Looker which provides data flexibility, reporting, and decisions in real time.
Another popular program was called MyThings which Expedia and AirBnB employ. It creates ads to drive traffic back to your site which explains why everywhere I looked after I wrote about Tailored Republic, I saw only their ads everywhere. I had always wondered why that was true and my lunch mate explained this was actually part of a software program he sold.
Hadar Paz, North America CEO, inside.tm, gave a very interesting presentation of how his program worked which essentially re-creates the real world shopping experience with a virtual one inside his online store floor plan.
Imagine you're an online shopper searching around a website looking for an item, how would you like someone to pop up and say, "Hi, how's your weather today?" Here's an example of a sample conversation and experience shown visually.