After attending the WWD CEO Summit at the end of October, my all-time favorite business event, where this year’s theme was Evolution, I was inspired to share my learnings.
Some of my personal thoughts from the conference follow:
—Karen Katz of Neiman Marcus is so amazing in person. She is engaging and real, and I am glad I got to speak to her. (Didn’t think it was possible to love Neiman more than I already do!)
—Nike is one of my favorite brands, yet I was disappointed in the presentation. The President did not speak to me: Are they only gearing the product to 23 year old women who work out six hours a day? Do they care about the older, 30/40/50-something year old customer? Where is the aging population that Joseph Altuzarra realizes is still so relevant? What about the plus-size person who wants to embrace fitness for health?
—Is everyone wearing some sort of tracking devise these days? If so, Ringly has the right idea (check out the website!).
—Every retailer keeps saying it is committed to the customer service experience in its stores. Is that really the case when we are shopping in stores? I think there is room to do better.
—Jennifer Hyman always sounds so amazing when she speaks. She truly is an inspiration for my generation.
—I love the energy of Nicholas Ghesquiere. Watch out world—Louis Vuitton’s designer is going to take this brand to even more soaring heights!
—Who knew that numbers could be so much fun….the MasterCard presentation was fantastic!
WWD offers a great recap of the extraordinary speakers (Karen Katz, CEO of Neiman Marcus! Andy Dunn, founder of Bonobos! Nicolas Ghesquiere, designer Louis Vuitton!) so the back issues of the publication will have more engaging portraits of the event. However, I saw some definite themes emerge and wanted to share what I think were the big themes.
BUZZ WORDS & THEMES
—15 years ago, people were inspired by pro athletes. Now they are inspired by people like themselves. —Trevor Edwards, Nike
—Women comprise $5 BILLION in Nike sales, and by 2016, that number will grow to $7 BILLION. Women cannot be ignored. —Trevor Edwards, Nike
—Accept failure. Not everything you try will work, but you can learn from the lessons. Example: Neiman Marcus investing in an off-price model in China did not work, but they learned when it came time to invest in MyTeresa.com —Karen Katz, Neiman Marcus
—It only took seven weeks from the first meeting with Henri Bendel to the time they had product in the store. They moved quickly. —Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway
—Zappos set up its company so people could buy 13 pairs of shoes and return 12….reverse logistics. Netflix and Rent the Runway did the same.
—Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway
—The customer now really buys only two times a year: two weeks before Easter in April and in October when the weather gets colder. Respond to that. —Sarah Quinlan, MasterCard
—Target partnership led to a major marketing platform and pulled in 3 Billion impressions and helped make Altuzarra a more well known name. Thrilled with the collaboration. —Joseph Altuzarra, Altuzarra
—In 2012, Walmart wanted to sell $250 Billion in Made in USA Goods by growing existing products; find new goods; work with categories to have them manufacture in the US. —Michele Gloeckler, Walmart
—“Re-shore” product from overseas to being manufactured in the US. 1888 Mills, Powerflex bandage, Bell USA are such examples. —Michelle Gloeckler, Walmart
—Free Uber rides to Americana at The Brand and The Grove from Thanksgiving to Christmas to create a better experience. —Rick Caruso, Caruso Affiliated
—Cannot operate in just silos. Companies must have everyone be clear on the brand voice. —Mary Beech, Kate Spade
—Made in America doesn’t need to mean more expensive prices. Walmart ensures that. —Michelle Gloeckler, Walmart
People: Leadership, Service, and Success
—Constantly educate the staff. –Karen Katz, Neiman Marcus; Jeff Gennette, Macy’s
—Celebrate victories. —Karen Katz, Neiman Marcus
—Amazing people with curiosity, leadership, and drive are important to the success of a start-up business with growth potential. —Glen Senk, Front Row Partners
—Have a passion for product. —Karis Durmer, Altuzarra
—Know who you are and stick to it. —Joseph Altuzarra, Altuzarra
—When you pay people more than minimum wage, they are happier and more loyal. Michigan minimum wage is $7; Shinola pays $12 per hour during training, and $14 for trained employees plus benefits. —Tom Kartosis, Shinola
—People in a store are the greatest deterrent to crime. If someone sees a customer paying for a cart full of electronics with 12 credit cards, something is wrong. —William Bratton, Commissioner NYPD
—Fashion is now hiring from unconventional backgrounds because you need different people to open a company up to change. —Karen Katz, Neiman Marcus; Mary Beech, Kate Spade; Ara Katz, Spring
—Can’t teach smart. Can’t teach aggressive. Need agile, curious people, and overall generalists for future talent. —Jeff Gennette, Macy’s
—“Charm” is undervalued in business. People respond to that and authenticity. —Marigay McKee
—“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” —Karen Katz, Neiman Marcus
—“The question is not how do I make innovation happen, but rather how do I set the stage for it to happen?” –Karen Katz, Neiman Marcus
—Great ideas with an accepting base are most appealing for venture capital funds. —Glen Senk, Front Row Partners; Ron Frasch, Castanea Partners
—Innovate through competition: wearable technology (intel.com/makeitwearable.com); Louis Vuitton Young Fashion Designer Prize; $10 million Walmart Innovation Fund for making costs more competitive.
—By testing out every idea and making quick decisions, Rent the Runway has adapted a philosophy of implementing and not over-thinking strategy. —Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway
—Be open to taking risks. —Joseph Altuzarra, Altuzarra
—Nourish your creativity. —Nicholas Ghesquiere, Louis Vuitton
—Shinola needed more accessory designers. They partnered with the College for Creative Studies 15 months ago. Next year they will offer a 4-year degree in this program. —Tom Kartsosis, Shinola
—Engage the customer through compelling technology. Facebook – 65M friends. Women’s Training App—18M downloads. Nike+ Running App-9M. —Trevor Edwards, Nike
—Everyone is curious about wearable technology because of its intimacy, immediacy, and persistence. —Steve Holmes, Intel
—Still figuring out the applicability of wearable technology. What is its full potential? —Steve Holmes, Intel
—Short battery lives make wearable technology somewhat of a challenge. —Steve Holmes
—Can’t do it all with technology—personalization, search, data tracking, etc. Focus and choose your resources accordingly. —Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway
—Create wearable technology that is less about the technology and more about the jewelry itself. Christina Mercando, Ringly
—Instagram is like a mood wall and way to speak to the customer directly. —Nicolas Ghesquiere, Louis Vuitton
—ROI in marketing has never been easier with the analytics: absolute numbers, spend trends, length of engagement, etc. —Oliver Walsh, Aritzia
—Fenwick of Bond Street doesn’t have e-commerce because they want to know their customer personally and not rely on analytics. —David Walker-Smith, Fenwick of Bond Street
Bricks & Mortar vs. E-Commerce
—Merge the two buying groups (stores, online) into one group for a holistic approach. (Neiman Marcus) (Macy’s)
—Because of Rent the Runway’s online success, they realized that stores are the ultimate marketing channel. Will open 4 this year; 5 next year.
—Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway
—Stores are there as a guide shop, not a place to “store” inventory.
—Andy Dunn, Bonobos
—Once a store opened in NYC, their conversion rate for sales doubled. As a result, they now have 10 stores and want to open more. —Andy Dunn, Bonobos
—Bricks & Mortar stores are down 4.8 percent year over year (Sept 14/Sept 13). They have no pricing power. —Sarah Quinlan, MasterCard
—The digital experience influences in-stores sales. —Richard Baker, Hudson’s Bay Company
—Goal is to get the digital shopper into the stores, as they will buy more. —Richard Baker, Hudson’s Bay Company
—Synergistic practices = money savings. $100M for Hudson Bay’s purchase of Saks. —Richard Baker, Hudson’s Bay Company
—Champ Elysees, Marrakech, and Tsukiji Fish Market = experience retail, with no threats like Amazon because of the great experience. —Rick Caruso, Caruso Affiliated
—While Bricks & Mortar department store sales are down 2.7 percent they are up 15 percent online. —Sarah Quinlan, MasterCard
Customers as Guests
—Rent the Runway devotes 65 percent of its store’s space to the dressing rooms. —Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway
—Free beer! It is what men want in the Bonobos stores. —Andy Dunn, Bonobos
—75 percent of shopping is done by women. —Sarah Quinlan, MasterCard
—Know whom you want to dress. Inspired by real women like Carine Rotfield or his Mother. —Joseph Altazurra, Altazarra
—The BOSS is the customer. —Richard Baker, Hudson’s Bay Company
—Entertainment in the store helps to exceed a customer’s expectations. — Richard Baker, Hudson’s Bay Company
—Give customers choices. —Richard Baker, Hudson’s Bay Company
—Made in the USA matters to 85 percent of Walmart shoppers and is the second most important criteria point after price. —Michelle Gloeckler, Walmart
—Community events can serve as a “virtual anchor” for shopping centers to bring people out…sales inevitably happen. Jose de Jesus Legaspi, The Legaspi Company; Rick Caruso; Caruso Affliliated
—Not in the mall business. We create places that people have great experiences in. —Rick Caruso, Caruso Affiliated
—The 1980s was about selling to people, the 1990s was about personal shopping, and today is about a store being a home for its guests.
— Marigay McKee, Saks
—Product needs to mirror what the customer wants. —Jeff Gennette, Macy’s
—Must offer a compelling story to your customers to not lose to Amazon or Zara. Carve out a niche. —Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway
—Customers are begging for experiences: champagne, on-site tailoring, knowing the customer by name. —Sarah Quinlan, MasterCard
—Brands have emotional attachments. Levi’s was there when the Berlin Wall fell and during Woodstock. —Chip Bergh, Levi’s; Nicholas Ghesquiere, Louis Vuitton
—Louis Vuitton is about a style, charisma, intelligence, and expressiveness of its owner. —Nicholas Ghesquiere, Louis Vuitton
—Made in America matters. —Michelle Gloeckler, Walmart; Tom Kartsotis, Shinola
—Give people something back that you can’t buy: an emotional connection. —Rick Caruso, Caruso Affiliated
—Constantly evolve your mix in a mall. Restaurants comprise 20-25 percent but don’t be too high end, don’t be too low end, and constantly tweak it. —Rick Caruso, Caruso Affiliated
—All ideas must be linked back to the brand voice in order to properly tell the story….and do the ideas enhance the brand, provide a superior customer experience, can the idea be had elsewhere? —Mary Beech, Kate Spade
—Data doesn’t engage hearts, storytelling does. —Mary Beech, Kate Spade
—Give customers a reason to engage/have a narrative or connection to a store. —Jeff Gennette, Macy’s
—Enhance retail theatre. —Marigay McKee, Saks
—The consumer isn’t looking for just a product. She wants a connection to it. —Joseph Altazurra, Altazarra
—“Build desire.” —Joseph Altazurra
—Iconic pieces were once new. Every item doesn’t become iconic immediately or even ever, but it is the challenge of a designer. —Nicholas Ghesquiere, Louis Vuitton
—Create desire to want and to wear in the designs. —Nicholas Ghesquiere, Louis Vuitton
—Fashion lives and dies by the product. —Marigay McKee, Saks
—The luxury shopper is very much there. Year over year sales are up 8.9 percent in luxury, 6 percent in lodging. —Sarah Quinlan, MasterCard
—The jewelry category is very strong with the average ticket being $2,600, and high-end jewelers have recaptured shares from the independent jewelers (82 percent) for the first time since July 2011. —Sarah Quinlan, MasterCard
Department Stores’ Future
—Create well-edited product in the store. —Karen Katz, Neiman Marcus; Marigay McKee, Saks; Jeff Gennette, Macy’s
—The average Rent the Runway customer, with a household income of $100k, has never been in a department store because of Zara. How do you compete against Zara or Amazon? —Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway
—Department store spending is down 2.7 percent year over year (Sept 14/Sept 13), compared to e-commerce being up 14 percent, luxury being up 8.9 percent, and electronics being up 8.7 percent. —Sarah Quinlan, MasterCard
—Create a platform with off-price, mid-price, luxury, and digital so that no matter who spends money, they are spending with you. —Richard Baker, Hudson’s Bay
—Invest in Bricks & Mortar. —Marigay McKee, Saks
—Engage more with the customer, it helps. —Jeff Gennette, Macy’s
—What is the noble purpose of each store? Will each one change? Showroom, fulfillment only, what? Define each store. —Jeff Gennette, Macy’s
—An older customer….average age is 48, 82 percent are women.
—Marigay McKee, Saks
—A lot of competition from H&M, Zara, TopShop. Catering to the middle-market is very difficult with so much fast fashion competition. —Marigay McKee, Saks
—Online is bright spot for all of the department stores. Getting the online customers into the store is the challenge.