After 5 years at Yoox dealing with brands in the full-service providing area, Andrea has been Global e-Business and Digital Director at Liu Jo since 2012.
1) Fashion has been the key driver in the e-commerce growth over the last few years, particularly thanks to private sales and native online models. What are the main drivers that encouraged consumers to buy online according to your evidence?
Without any doubt, private sales played a major role in driving the first wave in fashion e-commerce from 2008-2010 and they contributed to a large extent, particularly in Europe, to educate consumers by increasing awareness and trust in online purchases: as a result Vente Privèe and Privalia became brands themselves and this was due mainly to the pricing leverage and to a "wow bargain effect" their model is based on.
After 2009-2010, pure players took the lead in the various segments thanks to a higher appeal: Net-à-porter, Luisaviaroma and myTheresa are now a major destination in luxury fashion, Yoox plays the same role in off-season market while Zalando and Asos continue to grow in a "lower" segment.
2) Smartphones have made consumers' purchase path more complex: besides the traditional "research online, purchase offline", showrooming has produced the opposite behaviour. How fashion brands should cope with this?
I worked 5 years at Yoox and, since 2012, I have been managing the e-commerce operations at Liu Jo: the latter experience has shown me how shoppers use, with growing ease, online shopping to get informed before dropping into the store. The same way, our store managers get often support from our website to show consumers products when they are vis-à-vis. This is due to the fact that often there are more product information online rather than offline. As a matter of fact we suggest, on our website, total look outfits and other relevant recommendations.
3) A provocatory article on the Economist wondered whether retailers would become pure shopping windows for Amazon and other large marketplaces. How is e-commerce impacting on fashion retail players?
The "ceremonial" aspect in the luxury retail world will continue to play a necessary role in the relationships with the brand and also with transactions. We are opening more stores because the empathy between clients and store managers is crucial in terms of engagement and "client telling": obviously we think physical stores will contribute significantly to increase results also as communication and service environments.
4) Liu Jo has already defined a corporate omnichannel strategy and, within a couple of months, you are going to roll-out the first drop of the relevant project. Can you comment on this?
As a first step, we will create the "backbone" for the omnichannel strategy, ie. we are going to merge into a unique “customer data hub” customer online data and physical stores data: data routed from web analytics will be added up as they will be useful along the conversion path. Being able to fully manage users' information is one of the reasons why we think brands should go for a proprietary solution rather than a full service provider.
As a second step, we'll implement the complete omnichannel strategy introducing user clusters, activating marketing automation tactics and, of course, omnichannel opportunities like "click and collects", “ship from store”, etc. Additionally, consumers will be able to see on- and off-line purchases and store managers recommendations on their online account.
5) Fashion brands are main actors in social media and most of sales and communication digital models have first been experienced by such companies like digital PR relationships and drive-to-store initiatives. On the other side, we've seen several shortcomings in managing reputation appropriately on social media. Any suggestion on how to best deal with social platforms?
Starting from March 2014, we have set-up a dedicated social media team both for customer care and for communication purposes. Such attention has turned the Facebook page into a real service for clients routing questions like where products can be bought, what they look like, etc. Our main objective is to be effective and fast, to give a “tailored” answer to all questions as to increase our customer base engagement. These are the KPIs we monitor to measure our performance on those channels.
6) An important Fashion Event will be organised by NetComm Suisse on April, 23rd. Why have you decided to attend?
The event organised by Netcomm Suisse is a good chance to share our experience with peers in Switzerland. Lugano is becoming a barycentric hub for fashion: set along Italy, France and the UK. The country is becoming strategic not only for the headquarters lots of brands have in Lugano and Genève but also for the e-commerce fullfillment centres as well as for digital capabilities that are being set up.
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