[Interview ] Lauren Freedman (Astound Commerce) : What are the Digital Innovations in Apparel?

 

 

 

 

Lauren Freedman, Senior Vice President, Digital Strategy, Chief Merchant at Astound Commerce

 

English version

 

 

Which practical ideas can I implement right away ?”. Each year at IRCE, one of the most crowded conference is Lauren Freedman’s one, because attendants know they will have inspiring ideas to think about for tomorrow.

This year, in 45 minutes, Lauren Freedman, Senior Vice President, Digital Strategy, Chief Merchant at Astound Commerce, highlighted a series of digital innovations in apparel, in the form of a guided tour throught initiatives leveraging video, lookbooks, content and customization in new ways, along with insight into what’s on the horizon from visual and voice search to virtual reality and how it’s likely to impact selling and shopping apparel.
I had the pleasure and honor to interview in person Lauren. Here is our conversation :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

:: Lauren, what new models did you notice this past year in fashion retail?

Lauren Freedman: I think it is more about models and the different techniques that can be used, certainly in fashion but also in other sectors. There are four I can identify:

– Not surprisingly you have Amazon’s push into apparel, soon to surpass Macy’s as the biggest seller of apparel, which is quite frightening, if you think about it. So Amazon has to be under everybody’s screen, as in fact Amazon’s effect is everywhere.

– Popups are a growing factor in the marketplace and seem to come in many shapes and sizes. At the same time, you have all these announcements about stores closing.

– Then you have this tendency of everybody profiling every customer for customization. How do you find the right product for the right customer? Examples range from Bonobos to Stitch Fix, Trunk Club. This is a kind of dating for fashion.

-Then I would mention the integration of social media into the shopping experience.

 

:: What are the top reasons shoppers choose to go to the physical store?

I think at the end of the day, it is more a question of touch and feel. How does it look? And you can’t guess online. I think there is still this need. The other thing is factoring the convenience of a store. You can enter a store whenever you want: if you are near by and you are in a “need it now’ moment, it can work better for you. I need a product now, for my daughter, at school for tomorrow, and I have to go get it. So even if there is all these delivery services, there is still the immediacy factor. There is also an experience component. The store is convenient and there the customer is still in the control of where and when.

We have to remember that the majority of the goods are still bought in the store.

 

:: In your conference at IRCE, you mention that “storytelling is a visual fix”. Which technologies are involved and which retailers are very good at?

It is less the technology and more the storytelling that these brands are doing. Especially in luxury, where they truly share their heritage, the soul behind the brand.

In term of retailers, I thought global brands like Tumi, Jimmy Choo were excellent along with sporting goods brands like Under Armour and Nike. Their imagery of photography is so powerful.

It’s about the investment into photography they made, and the use of social tools they do to capture and use customer generated imagery.

 

 

Storytelling is a visual fix Lauren Freedman, The Astound Commerce. IRCE 2017

 

 

 

:: You explained also that “education and efficiencies foster decision making”. Among the new “tools” available which one seems for you the more important to add for a fashion retailer to its site?

It really depends on what the retailer sells. I would suggest that the product selectors, videos, profilers are quite valuable as they direct and guide shoppers to the products best suited to them and can work in categories from accessories to apparel.

 

 

 

 

Products selector, profilers are quite valuable as they direct and guide shoppers to the products best suited to themLauren Freedman, The Astound Commerce. IRCE 2017

 

The videos add another dimension and can be important to show the movement of the product.

Lastly, I would be remiss not to mention the customization factor. People want a product specifically picked for them and unique for them. And sometimes customers can have more than one, they can have all these capabilities within a single experience.

It seem to fit particularly for the millennial’s generation, who like the individuality. This is my sense of it.

 

 

 

 

«Education and efficiencies foster decisionmaking fast »Lauren Freedman, The Astound Commerce. IRCE 2017

 

 

:: More and more returns are a problem in the fashion industry. What do you suggest to your clients to reduce returns after a purchase made either in-store or online?

How you can get your rates lower is very important, especially when you make free returns available. It is typical that I get two swimsuits, I return one. I buy five pairs of shoe I return four. The number one thing retailers can do is make sure they have great pictures showing the customer what the product is really. Number two, more views of the product you have – the front, the back, the inside, the back – and you will better off. I think it is also important you have an efficient return process : making easy for people to return online. For example at Zappos, I go online, I check the bag, I put get the return stickeron and I’m good to go. I don’t think it encourage returns, I think it encourages you to buy from them. And make sure your policies are in front too. But great pictures go a long way as well!

 

:: Same Day Delivery is increasingly desired by both online and store shoppers. How do your clients in retail fashion handle this service? Which retailers are very good at?

Customers want it, customers want everything faster anyway. For the retailers, it is “how to make it in a profitable manner?”

I think we are very new to this and we haven’t yet tested all. I do see some using services like Uber and Lyft to handle. In term of companies I have seen offering this type of service well, I notice Bloomingdales and a number of higher and luxury brands – something that anyway they offered in the past.

I don’t think it will be universal but there is a high consumer interest, so I am sure we will see more retailers deliver Same Day Delivery. Stay tuned!

 

 

To learn more :

  • Lauren Freedman
  • Astound Commerce, a global digital commerce agency, based in San Bruno (California), offering technology, creativity, strategic consulting, thought leadership. 600+ dedicated ecommerce specialists worldwide, working for some of the word’s most iconic brands.

 

 

 

Customer Insight aide les entreprises à transposer avec succès les stratégies ayant fait leur preuve aux Etats-Unis. Les meilleurs use cases et solutions techniques, pour des résultats avérés. Parlons-en sur Linkedin

 

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