Luxury Institute News

March 7, 2016

Saks extends associates’ knowledge, expertise to curated online service

Luxury Daily
By: Jen King
March 7, 2016

Department store chain Saks Fifth Avenue is personalizing its online shopping experience to transfer the service received in-store to anywhere consumers wish to shop.

In recent months, omnichannel strategy has taken hold over retailing, with brands coming to execute programs that enhance the relationship between in-store shopping and that conducted online. As such, the luxury industry will benefit from increasing personalized interaction online as a reflection, and continuation, of the experience while in a physical store location, thus offering its consumers a consistent presentation and level of service regardless of the platform.

“When it comes to luxury shopping, there is no substitute for the personalized experience offered by a knowledgeable Saks Associate,” said Joe Milano, senior vice president, general manager, digital retail and ecommerce at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York.

“Providing our customers with the same high-touch Saks experience and store environment online will not only help us strengthen relationships with existing customers, but also allow us to connect personally with the saks.com customer,” he said.

“Saks Fifth Avenue prides itself on the relationships and experiences built between its associates and customers. With this new technology, Saks has the ability to provide all customers the same 1 to 1 personalized experience no matter the channel.”

Personal shoppers online
Saks’ latest endeavor introduces a consumer offering that brings the retailer’s in-store experience directly to its online shoppers. Through the initiative, consumers can connect with Saks Associates around the clock, every day of the week, to reap the benefits of its personalized services.

For the online service program, Saks teamed with retail technology firm Salesfloor. As a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, Salesfloor works to connect local retail sales associates with online shoppers to create a personalized experience.

With quick integration that melds easily with a retailer’s existing CRM and client software, Salesfloor can be customized to fit with a retailer’s specifications. According to Salesfloor, retailers that partner with its SaaS platform see a tenfold lift in online conversations, and up to a 75 percent increase in average order value.

“In today’s world we have omni-channel customers, therefore associates in the store need to be omnichannel as well, so they can serve the customer even after they have left the store,” said Oscar Sachs, CEO of Salesfloor. “Salesfloor redefines the role of a sales associate so that they can directly drive the online business as much as the in-store business.

“With Salesfloor, retailers can empower associates to develop relationships at scale with customers and to personalize the online experience with curated product, content and live service,” he said.

Using Salesfloor’s SaaS, Saks now has the ability to create customizable saks.com boutique pages with the help of its team of dedicated Saks Associates. Each customized online boutique will be personally curated by a Saks Associate to include an assortment of merchandise and will be easily found through a dedicated URL.

Similar to a favorite in-store associate, consumers can continue to refer to the dedicated URL that houses their curated merchandise picks based on their personal taste and needs. The program also gives Saks Associates another way to connect with new and established consumers in the online space.

Connections can be had over hand-picked merchandise, styling expertise and industry knowledge. Further adapting to how the consumer wishes to shop, the Saks Associates can be reached via live chat, email or through scheduled appointments.

Additional touchpoints include the Saks Associate’s ability to showcase their online storefronts to consumers through email and social media tools built within a mobile application.

“Luxury brands depend on creating relationships with their customers and offering a high level of service,” Mr. Sachs said. “In-store, luxury brands do a great job at differentiating themselves from the competition through store design, sales associates and merchandising.

“However online the differentiation is much more narrow and retailers are struggling to maintain loyal online customers, which is increasingly becoming a large part of the retail business,” he said. “With Salesfloor, retailers can now leverage their trusted associates to better serve the online customer and to personalize the online experience.”

Furthering experience
The human element is going to be the top differentiator among luxury brands going forward, according to the CEO of Luxury Institute at Luxury Interactive Europe 2015.

As consumers increasingly experience the world through screens, they will come to crave the now-rare human connection. Here is where luxury brands can help themselves stand apart by outperforming their peers at relationship building and delivering a worthwhile personal touch (see story).

For instance, department store chain Neiman Marcus is changing the apparel shopping experience for consumers with a new digital mirror that remembers users.

The Memory Mirror takes a 360-degree video of a client modeling a particular outfit, allowing them to see clothing on themselves from all angles as well as save and share the visual. This interactive digital touchpoint will alter the in-store experience for Neiman Marcus’ consumers and further empower sales associates to provide customer service (see story).

Also, retailer Nordstrom expanded its mobile commerce capabilities with a new feature that enables shopping via text message.

The retailer claims its TextStyle is the first of its kind for a department store in the United States, allowing for a secure, one-to-one buying experience between a consumer and a sales associate. Consumers are constantly connected to their phones, so this enables Nordstrom to serve them in a personal way no matter where they are (see story).

“Retail’s landscape is changing –customers demand a seamless shopping experience across all channels,” Saks’ Mr. Milano said. “To capitalize on this, Saks Fifth Avenue found a digital solution that combines our highest trafficked channel with our highest converting channel, our stores. Now, Saks Associates can connect directly to customers 24/7 via this new technology.”

Source: https://www.luxurydaily.com/saks-extends-associates-knowledge-expertise-to-curated-online-service/

February 24, 2016

Dollars & Ssense

A Montreal computer engineer has built one of the world’s most successful designer fashion platforms. Marina Strauss goes behind the scenes to learn how Ssense’s Rami Atallah coaxes shoppers into $860 sweatpants

The Globe and Mail
By: Marina Strauss
February 24, 2016

In Montreal’s shrinking Chabanel garment district where businesses increasingly struggle to stay afloat, an unlikely fashion player has emerged. Fast-growing Ssense (pronouced “essence”), which stocks hundreds of luxury brands ranging from the established Alexander McQueen to up-and-coming Vetements, is headed not by a fashion professional but a computer engineer. Rami Atallah, its chief executive officer, caters to a global clientele by selling goods mostly online (he has one store in Old Montreal), while many tony rivals have been slow to embrace e-commerce. In doing so, he is set on shaking up the estimated $396-billion international luxury fashion segment, one pair of $860 sweatpants at a time.

“[The luxury market] is definitely changing,” says the slender Atallah, clad in black Saint Laurent jeans – a label he favours for its slim fit – and Eytys sneakers. He’s sitting at a sleek marble boardroom table at Ssense’s expanding head office, where large windows provide an unobstructed view of the city centre and Mont Royal in the distance. “There is a shift from pure luxury to something more experiential. There has to be a strong message, at the end of the day. It has to bring an added layer to the conversation that is happening around fashion.”

Ssense’s customers are big spenders like marketing executives, musicians and athletes who don’t think twice about dropping an average of $900 on a piece of clothing (its priciest sale to date was a $30,000 black limited-edition Rolex). Though its roots are in men’s wear, Atallah is predicting that women’s apparel will soon dominate.

Less affluent shoppers buy single items – a $375 Marc Jacobs sailor blouse, perhaps – and mix it up with lower-priced staples, he says. Only 18 per cent of the clientele is Canadian, his figures show. Almost half live in the United States and 10 per cent in China (others are in places as far-flung as South Korea, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan). And almost 80 per cent are coveted millennials, between 18 and 34.

Contrary to the merchandising strategy of many other luxe outlets, the product selection at Ssense prioritizes statement pieces over everyday basics. Recent arrivals include looks by (from left) Sacai, Yeezy, Roksanda and Vetements.

 

Contrary to the merchandising strategy of many other luxe outlets, the product selection at Ssense prioritizes statement pieces over everyday basics. Recent arrivals include looks by (from left) Sacai, Yeezy, Roksanda and Vetements.

At just 33, Atallah shares a demographic with his customer. He got the e-commerce itch as an engineering student in the early 2000s when he bought a $200 pair of Diesel jeans and sold them on Ebay. They fetched $350, so he bought more posh denim and made $15,000 in a month. He was so enamoured with the process that he decided to build an e-commerce platform as his engineering thesis. His brothers, Firas (who now serves as chief financial officer) and Bassel (chief operating officer) joined him in launching the business. His family, who immigrated from Syria when Rami was 15, invested tens of thousands of dollars in the company.

Founded in 2003, Ssense stands out not only as a Canadian player in the luxury e-commerce field, but also for its fashion-forward merchandise mix. Spring’s women’s-wear selection includes Sacai’s contemporary lace pieces, Yeezy’s moth-eaten knits and tailored streetwear by Acne Studios. Ssense’s influence on suppliers is such that it can work directly with a label like Vetements – whose following includes Rihanna and Kanye West and whose creative head, Demna Gvasalia, recently took the reins at Balenciaga – to develop exclusive capsule lines. “Ssense are great partners and our most important account as of today,” says Vetements’s CEO Guram Gvasalia.

The website’s edgy, anti-fashion tone sets it apart in a competitive marketplace where retailers struggle to make a profit while vying with big brands that increasingly sell from their own sites.

Ssense started with a focus on men’s wear and still sells a good chunk of its inventory to fashion-forward guys. Its new campaign features Majid Jordan – the producing and recording duo signed to Drake’s OVO Sound label – photographed at the University of Toronto wearing minimal sportswear by labels such as Miharayasuhiro, Calvin Klein, Lanvin and Reebok Classics.

 

Ssense started with a focus on men’s wear and still sells a good chunk of its inventory to fashion-forward guys. Its new campaign features Majid Jordan – the producing and recording duo signed to Drake’s OVO Sound label – photographed at the University of Toronto wearing minimal sportswear by labels such as Miharayasuhiro, Calvin Klein, Lanvin and Reebok Classics.

“It’s a tough business,” says Darrell Kopke, foudner of business accelerator Institute B and former CEO of Kit and Ace, a high-end casual-wear chain. “Young people who are willing to buy a brand online that they haven’t previously experienced are not into luxury fashion.”

The online market is dominated by Net-a-Porter, which was bought late last year by e-commerce titan Yoox. But even Net-a-Porter had been in the red. Other consolidation has hit the industry in a bid to boost the bottom line. In January, Hudson’s Bay Co. snapped up Gilt.com for $250-million (U.S.), a far cry from the $1-billion valuation it received following a 2011 round of funding, while a few years earlier, Nordstrom swallowed HauteLook.com. Fashion e-tailer Nasty Gal recently cut about 10 per cent of its staff.

“There will continue to be consolidation among all these players and some will go under,” predicts Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute in New York.

Atallah says privately owned Ssense has enjoyed 82-per-cent compound annual sales growth since its inception, with a projected five million monthly visitors by the end of 2016. Industry estimates suggest its total annual sales are in the nine figures. What’s more, Ssense turns a profit, pouring only the money it makes back into the business rather than investing more by raising venture-capital or other outside funds, as rivals do, he says. With more than 200 full-time employees today (more than double the number it had two years ago), the company plans to expand to more than 300 this year.

Atallah used his computer engineering background to build the e-commerce platform.

 

Atallah used his computer engineering background to build the e-commerce platform.

What is key for Atallah is collecting data on shoppers who come to his site, tracking their habits and responding appropriately. For instance, the faster Ssense ships an order, the more likely customers are to shop again, he says (the site offers free next-day delivery in Canada). He’s also found that those who read the site’s extensive editorial content are more likely to eventually make a purchase.

Atallah recently hired Joerg Koch, a Berlin-based fashion guru and founder of the indie magazine 032c as the website’s first editor-in-chief.

Koch’s mandate is to focus not on touting products so much as ideas to reach the sensibilities of Ssense’s young, well-heeled customer – some of the stories are provocative. In a profile on Ian Connor, a member of Kanye West’s creative team and, purportedly, the pop culture icon’s style muse, the 22-year-old liberally uses the F-word and other potentially offensive language as he holds forth about the power of social media and creativity, while a photo shows him pensively smoking.

Kopke gives Ssense high marks for taking risks with its content. “That is the attention-grabbing headline you need to cultivate a tribe of followers,” he says. “It has to be divisive.”

Janet Bannister, a venture capitalist who was the CEO of online fashion startup The Coveteur, says Ssense is being bold by combining content and e-commerce. Many e-commerce players have tested marrying the two but abandoned it because generating editorial content is relatively expensive, she says. The content “does not necessarily result in incremental e-commerce transactions unless it is very tightly integrated with e-commerce.”

“It’s about earning the trust of the readers so they don’t perceive you as an advertisement but as media,” counters Atallah. Ssense’s data shows that consumers who click through editorial content spend 7 per cent more on their orders and return to the site 300 per cent more often than those who don’t.

Perhaps, surprisingly, Ssense’s growth strategy also involves upping the cachet of its physical stores. Currently, it operates a single flagship in Old Montreal (hanging on the rack during a recent visit: a $670 men’s camouflage T-shirt by Valentino). By next year, Ssense will move to a nearby six-storey building that’s eight times larger than its current shop. It has hired award-winning, London– based architect David Chipperfield to design the new outlet. More flagships in key international markets will follow.

Says Atallah: “We have really big ambitions.”

Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/fashion-and-beauty/fashion/the-montreal-company-shaking-up-luxury-fashion-one-pair-of-860-sweatpants-at-atime/article28845855/

February 9, 2016

Using digital to connect luxury shoppers with luxury brands

Luxury Daily
By: James Green
February 9, 2016

Every industry has been disrupted by technology and pushed to evolve their marketing strategy. In some ways, luxury advertisers have embraced the digital revolution and found new methods of improving the customer and user experience. But a large number of luxury marketing spend is still happening offline, despite the brand opportunities that are now available online.

There seems to be a common understanding among luxury brands that high-priced items are not going to thrive online and that using an ecommerce platform may even devalue products. True or not, direct sales are not the only way to get value out of the digital world.

Net net
Most luxury brands have a very specific target audience, typically affluent individuals. Therefore, luxury brands have traditionally bought digital media within specific owners such as The New York Times, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal because they feel that it is the best way they can safely find their audience online.

But what about all the people signaling their intent to buy luxury items across the Greater Internet? How do brands effectively reach out them?

Research from Epsilon and The Luxury Institute shows that 98 percent of luxury shoppers use the Internet regularly.

In addition, more than 50 percent of the time they are online, they are researching products and comparing prices on their mobile devices.

Throughout the years, studies from Google and McKinsey have shown that people spend a good amount of time researching luxury or high cost goods online before making their purchase.

And most likely, the number of times people visit a store to browse and conduct research has diminished because of the availability of information online.

With all this data about people, including demographic and information about brand affinity, along with precise data related to what people are searching for or what items they have recently purchased, there is a tremendous opportunity to use digital to identify luxury shoppers, provide them with immersive experiences and forge stronger customer relationships.

Researching signals purchase intent
Data offers established brands the opportunity to get in front of in-market buyers, including new customers and previous buyers.

Consider the amount of research that takes place before making a luxury purchase, whether that is a new car, piece of jewelry, handbag or high-end vacation.

According to WBR Digital, 45 percent of luxury purchases are influenced by what consumers find online.

The benefit of digital is that you can depict who is actually looking for information about your product and use that trail of data to determine intent to purchase.

For the luxury category, these insights will help brands determine who is ready to make a purchase and allow you to predict which people to keep informed about brand updates, such as new products, sales and seasonal marketing promotions.

Intent-based targeting is a strong complement to more traditional brand-centric media buying and helps luxury brands zero in on the people who are more likely to buy their products. It is also a great way to help them move through the buying journey, either in-store or online.

Enticing luxury buyers with digital creative
Luxury shoppers are very much part of the digital nation. They are using laptops, tablets and smartphones to follow trends, connect with brands, research products and make purchases.

Digital creative is critical to the luxury shopper – it needs to drive awareness without jeopardizing brand integrity and exclusivity.

Digital platforms have transformed their environments into creative canvasses for luxury brands. We have seen this through beautifully produced digital videos, immersive creative experiences and native advertising taking place across mobile devices and platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.

There is enough creative stability in digital for luxury buyers to bring their brand to life and to do so amongst the people who are most likely to buy. The dynamic characteristics of digital also allow brands to feature more products and change up creative more easily than television or print ads.

Forging lasting relationships online
People do not have to visit a store for you to know when and how interact to with them.

Online interactions between consumers and brands inform content, marketing frequency and promotions at the individual level, which can help increase customer loyalty and brand awareness.

Loyalty can be accelerated through social, email and digital display advertising at any point within the customer’s lifetime, and data can help predict these optimal moments.

This means that you need to be constantly learning and adapting to what people want so that your brand remains relevant and generates the engagement and desired response. There is simply way too much insight and value rooted in the digital medium for brands not to invest in it.

DIGITAL MARKETING may appear to be about data and targeting, but it is more about customer interaction, immersive experiences and interactive communication.

The luxury experience is more likely to stay very much in-store focused in the next few years. But this might be able to change once luxury advertisers find a way to prolong the experience that they are providing in-store across digital channels.

Data, adaptability and device versatility makes digital a strong brand vehicle for the luxury category.

 Source: https://www.luxurydaily.com/using-digital-to-connect-luxury-shoppers-with-luxury-brands/

January 22, 2016

Events crucial at defining brand community: Neuehouse founding partner

Luxury Daily
By: Sarah Jones
January 21, 2016

NEW YORK – Luxury brands can work relentlessly to develop a quality product, but without creating a controlled experience and consistent message around their merchandise and identity, there may be a disconnect between reality and public perception.

During the “Going Beyond the Product: Creating Physical Experiences for Luxury Consumers” session at Luxury FirstLook: Strategy 2016 Jan. 20, panelists agreed that finding one consistent brand personality and ideology and communicating that across all touch points, whether online or in-store, is the key for effective brand positioning. From there, letting consumers engage with a brand through product, entertainment or creative experiences can further help to build a community.

“The brand has to drive the interaction, whatever it is, and then I think you have to be aware of what consumers’ expectations are,” said Matt Powell, co-president of KBS. “So digital has made it so that whether it is a luxury brand or not, people have certain expectations in terms of understanding everything from what’s going on in the supply chain to price comparison, things that normally luxury could avoid.

“And you have to think about how do you take advantage of what consumer expectations are altered by the Web when you’re creating any experience—online, offline, in-store, out of store,” he said.

Leaving a message
When trying to communicate a brand message to many different generations, brands should not let age be the primary focus, since consumers do not like being defined by this demographic. Mr. Powell said instead brands should speak to characteristics that consumers prefer to be identified by.

James O’Reilly, founding partner at Neuehouse, agreed, explaining that the private work collective tries to find common threads among its multigenerational audience rather than point out differences. Additionally, Neuehouse offers programming at different levels, allowing consumers at varying points in their lives to use its spaces and join its private community.

When designing retail spaces, brands should work to create elements of surprise. For instance, Neuehouse’s bathroom doors feature images of a pump and a mustache, fashioned out of magnets, showing more ingenuity than a painting.

In-store digitization efforts should center on creating an experience that the consumer cannot have at home on her tablet or phone. For instance, Puma took the concept of the in-store iPad and made it more memorable by creating a wall of iPads eight across.

“Physical and digital should be seen as complimentary as opposed to standalone items,” Mr. O’Reilly said. “I typically reference how much better educated people, more informed people are prior to an in-store purchase.

“I think those should feed off each other, and what I’ve seen more is people in-store are referencing digital moments, which consumers have prior to purchase,” he said.

Another way to surprise is in sensory and hospitality touch points. For instance, Dover Street Market was one of the first to include an in-store eatery, and its stores use a museum-style layout.

Prada at Dover Street Market 1
Prada at Dover Street Market

Creating a consistent experience at point of sale can become more difficult when a brand does not handle its own retail outlets.

This is true of automotive brands, which typically have a network of dealerships, but no flagship stores. Geoff Cook, founding partner of Base New York, said that he finds this lack of brand-owned store presence “bizarre.”

One option to make up for this would be hosting experiential events where consumers would be able to test drive and see the cars in person.

Similarly, Mr. Powell is working with BMW to bring its fragmented online presence together, uniting dealer, regional and corporate sites into one. The automaker’s corporate team also set up a showroom in a mall, giving itself an opportunity to reach consumers directly.

BMW South Coast Plaza
BMW Gallery at South Coast Plaza

Mr. Cook believes that brands should be more focused on creating news than on designing ads. Neuehouse employs this strategy, identifying itself as a publisher and introducing itself to potential members through editorial placements in media such as Vulture and Vanity Fair.

Face time
Having a consistent brand identity extends to personnel across facets of the business.

Mr. Cook said that the human connection is important in all channels. Ecommerce should therefore be more than just a transaction and a faceless shopping cart, particularly at luxury price points.

This starts at hiring. Neuehouse looks for an “emotional IQ” in potential new hires, searching for employees who fit into its community. Mr. O’Reilly said that it is difficult to tell who is a member and who works at Neuehouse.

When training new team members, brands should communicate not only what is done, but why it is done. For instance, a genius at the Apple store in Shanghai told Mr. Powell that when he resolves an issue, he is not just repairing a device, but he is fixing a fractured relationship between the consumer and Apple.

While luxury brands typically know the best practices in client building, most are not practicing these strategies for their own customers, according to the CEO of the Luxury Institute at Luxury Interactive 2015 Oct. 14.

The traditional training program for sales associates is out of date, as the focus should be on education that can be applied in a creative way rather than a rote set of rules and checklists that take the human element out of interactions. Additionally, these important members of a brand’s team should be rewarded more for their actions than their results, putting the emphasis on client retention and engagement, which will lead to sales over time (see story).

“I think for me, the most powerful thing is clarity and purpose for a brand,” Mr. Powell said. “So lots of people know how they do, lots of people know what they do. The best brands know why they do what they do.

“And that kind of clarity affects a lot of the behavior of the people on that team that end up being some of the most important touchpoints that exist, because they really define the experience,” he said.

Source: https://www.luxurydaily.com/events-crucial-at-defining-brand-community-neuehouse-partner/

October 27, 2015

Relationship building critical to luxury retail: Luxury Institute CEO

Luxury Daily
October 27, 2015
By: Sarah Jones

LONDON – The human element is going to be the top differentiator among luxury brands going forward, according to the CEO of Luxury Institute at Luxury Interactive Europe 2015 on Oct. 26.

As consumers increasingly experience the world through screens, they will come to crave the now-rare human connection. Here is where luxury brands can help themselves stand apart by outperforming their peers at relationship building and delivering a worthwhile personal touch.

“As consumers are more sophisticated, and as products become more commoditized, it’s the delivery of an optimized experience across channels that is critical and that high performance client relationships are our differentiators,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute, New York.

Brand image
Brands are struggling to define themselves, especially as they bleed into more affordable price points. For instance, a representative from an Italian jeweler told Mr. Pedraza that his brand does not know its own identity anymore, after a move down market left it straddling premium and exclusive.

Luxury Institute client Nordstrom now makes half of its sales via outlet stores. Recognizing that the customer retains a level of mystery, Nordstrom similarly remains ambiguous. Despite this non-specific label, the retailer still scores first in customer service in surveys conducted by the consultancy.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale
Nordstrom heavily promotes its anniversary sale on social media

Consumers are becoming more sophisticated, and brands need to optimize their user experience for their requirements.

Across channels, brands in the luxury space are struggling to connect the dots between policy, procedure and system to deliver a rewarding customer experience.

While 37 percent of men and 49 percent of women find browsing without help from a store associate to be most effective, this does not remove a brand’s place in the process. For brands to guide consumers’ exploration, they should include signage in an on-brand way or have store associates communicate with the shopper to help them find what they are looking for.

Valentino Rome store women
Valentino store in Rome

Even in the digital space, which tends to be thought of as a do-it-yourself shopping channel, the human element cannot be entirely removed. Walmart might be able to automate and take out that the personal interaction from the buying experience, but for luxury brands, the relationship is everything. It is especially important to invest in this personal approach for top tier clients.

Therefore, sales associates should be taught interpersonal skills, such as trustworthiness. While often thought of as innate, these can be learned. Ensuring that all associates are pulling their weight will also help to retain top frontline employees over time.

For best practices, Mr. Pedraza suggests looking outside of the luxury industry rather than studying peers. Those that excel at relationship building are within the military, medicine and airline industries. For instance, brands can look to the military, which has developed successful methods of empowering soldiers, to gain insights on store associate education and guidance.

Making a connection
Mr. Pedraza asked each of the tables to discuss what changes they would make to their organizational structure, front line associates and compensation to help foster strong client relationships.

Ideas from around the room included rotating employees within roles to develop empathy, looking at the company from the consumer’s perspective and empowering sales associates with access to technology and a CRM system. Other suggestions included new roles, such as a customer information officer, which would span sales and marketing.

After hearing from the room, Mr. Pedraza shared his suggestions. These include empowering employees by shifting the organizational structure from a top-down management style to one where individuals are self-managed.

Milton Lux Int Europe
Milton Pedraza

On the same note, employees should be educated rather than trained, with the focus on ideas for creative relationship building rather than delving out a strict formula to follow.

Associates should be compensated for their actions, such as messages sent and appointments booked, rather than their sales results.

Brands should also make sure that each and every member of their team fits the culture. For many companies, this would mean eliminating employees who do not want to talk to anyone.

In addition, brands should ensure that the technology they are providing their staff with is up-to-date. Ineffective systems are often a dealbreaker for associates, particularly younger employees, and they will take their talent elsewhere.

While technology can help to deliver a high-touch experience to consumers, data and automation cannot replicate the level of engagement that a salesperson can create with shoppers, according to an executive from Moda Operandi at Luxury Interactive 2015 on Oct. 13.

Moda Operandi employs stylists, who work with its most valued consumers to provide personalized recommendations and one-to-one communications, but the process being used to deliver this service was tedious. Keeping the same human touch business model, Moda Operandi built a new platform to help its stylists deliver more relevant, visually appealing messages to the most important customers (see story).

“The key is that we’ve created these great channels, but we haven’t connected the dots,” Mr. Pedraza said. “And that I think is the critical issue.

“It’s not that we’re not innovating in each of those channels. It’s that we have not connected the dots to the point where, for example, a sales associate is empowered and inspired and maybe incentivized to send the client online,” he said. “Or that when the client buys online, the sales associate reaches out with a thank you card and a follow-up.

“We haven’t figured out those little basics that really create realtionships. Today we are very digital, very technical, we’ve disempowered the people in the stores, is one of my premises. We haven’t connected the dots, as simple as they are to connect, whether it’s technologically or humanistically, we haven’t figured out the policies, the procedures, the systems yet.”

Source: http://www.luxurydaily.com/relationship-building-critical-to-luxury-retail-luxury-institute-ceo/

November 5, 2014

Yoox Emphasizes Venice For Holiday Gift Guide

By: Kelsey Drain
Fashion Times
November 5, 2014

 

yoooooooox

(Photo : Instagram/Yoox)

Italian e-tailer Yoox.com will launch its holiday project today, centered on the theme of one of the country’s most romantic cities.

A Dinner Party in Venice is “an eclectic gift guide menu to suit everyone’s tastes,” and will consist of a series of videos showing personalities gathered in Venice to attend a fictitious Christmas dinner. The collection will also offer a special range of Venice-inspired products.

The videos, released weekly, will feature Arrigo Cipriani, actress Alessandra Mastronardi, artist Ivan Olita, fashion curator Lynn Yaeger, photographer Charlotte Colbert, jewelry designers Osanna and Madina Visconti di Modrone, artist Barnaba Fornasetti and stylist Tina Leung.

The new collection is shoppable on Yoox.com and on its new app, which allows users to access what products shoppers around them are buying and make purchases quickly by just scanning a credit card.

A customized selection of aprons decorated by various fashion and design labels are featured in the selection of Venice-themed products. Designed by Emilio Pucci, Fornasetti, Missoni, Toilet Paper and Vivienne Westwood, the proceeds will be donated to nonprofit organization Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity.

The holiday shopping section also features two Venini Murano glass vases, a selection of Venice’s traditional Friulana slippers and striped T-shirts resembling those worn by gondola boatmen.

Additionally, MSGM, the Italian contemporary fashion label, designed a special-edition capsule collection for the site.

Back in August, there was speculation of Yoox being acquired by Amazon. The luxury retailer and the e-commerce conglomerate have made no advancements on the speculation.

“This might be the right time for companies to look to acquire a company like Yoox,” Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, a New York-based research and consulting firm, said in August.

“The mass brands understand that luxury is far more profitable and more resilient. For a company to trade up to the luxury or the premium providers in categories, that would be wise right now.”

Source: http://www.fashiontimes.com/articles/14213/20141105/yoox-emphasizes-venice-holiday-gift-guide.htm#ixzz3IIbnGcnF

September 25, 2014

Social network aims for country club status

StarTribune
September 25, 2014
By Katie Humphrey

It could be a story from “The Onion”: Join an online country club for the elite, memberships starting at $9,000.

Except it’s true. Last week, a Minneapolis man launched Netropolitan.Club, a social network for the rich and exclusive. Forget the commoners on Twitter and Facebook. Netropolitan founder James Touchi-Peters bills his site as “a place to talk about fine wine, fancy cars and lucrative business decisions without judgment.”

Its Sept. 16 launch got so much buzz — mostly of the snarky variety — that Jimmy Fallon mentioned it on “The Tonight Show,” imagining posts about firing the gardener and the caviar bucket challenge.

The site’s landing page got so many hits it was slow to load. Then the hackers descended. On Sunday evening, Touchi-Peters, who used to conduct the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra, pulled the site down for security upgrades.

“We were aware that people would try to hack the Netropolitan Club, but we were not prepared for the overwhelming amount of attacks,” he said in a statement posted on the Netropolitan Club’s Facebook page. (Because, apparently, even elite social networks need Facebook.)
He said it would be back up by the end of the week.

But will it catch on? We may never know. Touchi-Peters won’t say how many members have joined the site, or give any hint of their backgrounds. He also won’t give anyone a peek at the advertising-free network — unless they pony up the whopping membership payment.

“The attraction is that it’s private,” he said. “So far it’s exceeded our wildest expectations.”
Still, it could be a tough sell.

Privacy is valuable to the wealthy, but so is value, said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, a New York City research firm specializing in data and insights of high-net-worth consumers.

“I’m a bit of a skeptic,” Pedraza said of Netropolitan. “What are the benefits?”

Previous attempts to create elite-only networks have mostly fizzled, Pedraza said. One that is still active, ASmallWorld, is focused on jet-setting young adults, offering travel perks and hosting parties around the world. Membership, by invitation only, is $105 a year.

Touchi-Peters, a musician who travels frequently, said Netropolitan is aimed at like-minded people who may not have time to socialize in person, a group he calls the “working wealthy.” Or, he said, it could also appeal to rich people who live in rural areas and don’t have access to traditional social clubs. Users create profiles and can post on message boards organized by interest.

“Most people are going to join to meet other people,” Touchi-Peters said.

More specifically, people who can afford $9,000 upfront and the subsequent $3,000 annual fee.
So much for the idea of an open, egalitarian Internet.

That was a myth, anyway, said Seth Lewis, assistant professor of digital media and journalism at the University of Minnesota. Even Facebook started as the digital playground of Ivy League college students.

“It’s almost like [Netropolitan is] trying to put the genie back in the bottle,” Lewis said, referring to the site’s exclusivity. “The proposition is interesting. It’s hard to see how it succeeds.”As for the name Netropolitan, Touchi-Peters said, it’s a play on the words “metropolitan” and “Internet.” He wanted something that spoke to a cosmopolitan crowd, but the title “Cosmopolitan” was already taken.

“Netropolitan does not stand for ‘net worth,’ ” Touchi-Peters said.

But you’d better be worth a lot if you’re going to get past the virtual gate.

http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/blogs/277098901.html

June 16, 2014

US Internet advertising revenues jump 19pc in Q1: report

By: Joe MacCarthy
Luxury Daily
June 13, 2014

Brands continue to up their digital advertising budgets, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Internet ad revenues reached $11.6 billion in the first quarter of 2014, compared to $9.6 billion from the year-ago period. While the sharp rise is not all that surprising, the increasingly effective nature of digital ads indicates that revenues will keep climbing at double digit intervals.

“Digital advertising is so much more targeted,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of The Luxury Institute, New York. “You can now target people so much more finely than you could a few years ago.

“Relatively speaking, the cost is very competitive,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of online media that you can tap into.

“It’s just a revolution, a transformation, in advertising.”

Mr. Pedraza is not affiliated with the IAB, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

The Interactive Advertising Burea was unable to comment. The IAB is comprised of more than 600 media and technology companies that account for selling 86 percent of online advertising in the United States.

Spending spree
Consumers are increasingly dependent on their smartphones, which gives marketers countless opportunities to reach them throughout their daily routines.

Also, since brands continually engage with consumers through social media and other platforms, they can expect a high level of campaign recognition when targeting ads.

Many luxury brands are finding interesting ways to increase click-throughs and post-ad engagement.

For instance, Jaguar of North America leveraged its ongoing British Villains campaign with mobile advertisements on The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other publications.

Click the link to read the entire article which includes a quote from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute: http://www.luxurydaily.com/us-internet-advertising-revenues-jump-19pc-in-q1-report/

June 11, 2014

6 luxury marketing trends to watch

By: Marco Muellner
Luxury Daily
June 11, 2014

For luxury marketers, 2014 is predicted to be the year that tips the scales, with more than half of affluent shoppers discovering, actively browsing and shopping for luxury items via digital channels. This evolution is spurred by shoppers who are online to save time, yet remain likely to finish the purchase in-store.

According to an April 2013 Luxury Institute study on the multichannel purchasing habits of United States Internet users with incomes of at least $150,000, 48 percent of respondents sourced information about luxury fashion online via a computer. Yet only about a quarter actually completed the purchase online.

Also, eMarketer found that a whopping 74 percent of purchases researched on mobile devices are completed in-store.

Which brings me to the first trend to watch:

Mobile
We tend to think of mobile consumers as similar to desktop consumers, but on different devices. This is just not true.

Most mobile time, is, well, mobile. Digital marketers have always struggled to predictably drive offline traffic to retail, but data suggests this is changing.

With more than 70 percent of daily Facebook and Twitter users on a mobile device, digital marketers must think mobile-first.

For luxury marketers this is particularly challenging as device constraints and consumer expectations limit the richness of the experience.

But with skill and creativity, many luxury marketers are embracing the constraints without compromising brand promise.

Understanding the purchase intent journey
We have been trying to figure out what makes people buy as long as we have been selling, but it is a fragmented challenge and capturing the data at every step has been impossible.

We have made a lot of progress thanks to companies such as Datalogix and others and, as a result, luxury marketers are on the verge of the next evolution, having almost completely wired the journey.

The key, like most things in our modern world, is the smartphone.

In this next phase of digital marketing, understanding how and why consumers buy will be essential to attracting the next generation of affluent shoppers.

Click the link to read the entire article: http://www.luxurydaily.com/6-luxury-marketing-trends-to-watch/

February 5, 2014

Wealthy Shoppers Tell Brands How They Want Technology Integrated Into The Shopping Experience

(NEW YORK) February 5, 2014 – The New York-based Luxury Institute asked consumers 21 years of age and older from U.S. households with minimum annual income of $250,000 about their views on incorporating technology in the shopping experience.

Nearly half (47%) of wealthy consumers say that a sales professional providing live chat or video assistance online would help them understand more product details, and 58% appreciate the convenience of instant answers.  Only 15% of shoppers say that they have tried chat or video and refuse to do it again.

Wealthy shoppers do not mind companies collecting personal data and using it for customized marketing, but they do show strong distaste for clandestine data gathering via mobile phones, facial recognition software and GPS tracking; 69% say information collected in this manner is a privacy violation.  Just 24% approve of retailers using facial recognition software to identify them and observe shopping habits.

Using technology in-stores to accelerate checkout is popular, but many affluent shoppers shy away from self-checkout.  Almost three-fourths (73%) say that they appreciate the time savings of checking out via mobile devices instead of standing in line at cash registers.  Although 45% say that self-checkout is more efficient, 44% prefer transactions with help from staff.

Technology has little to do with what wealthy shoppers desire most: free shipping and returns, cited by 92% of respondents.

“Habits of today’s wealthy consumer have increased the desire to browse, reserve and purchase using a mix of channels,” says Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. “Technology allows brands to leverage customer data and shopping habits, however salespeople still play a vital role into creating unique and engaging experiences.”

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