Indochino, Rebecca Minkoff leaders debate how to curate the retail experience of the future

Two leading international fashion brands reveal what it takes to be innovative and drive the next generation in customer experience

Fashion retail is going through a digital revolution that requires retailers to up their game not only in terms of marketing, but also around technology utilisation and innovative thinking.

And that’s exactly what leaders from luxury women’s brand, Rebecca Minkoff, and custom suit provider, Indochino, are trying to do. Both took to the stage at the Online Retailer Expo this week in Sydney to explain how they’re working curate the retail experience of the future and what it takes to be innovative.

For Rebecca Minkoff VP for ecommerce and digital innovation, Krissie Millan, the focus is on driving growth through strategy, marketing, innovation and technology, and customer strategies across various digital channels. Importantly, she said it is the company’s innovative culture that drives its success.

“Our founders are passionate about innovative thinking. That trickles from the top down and permeates into our culture and our very DNA,” she told attendees. “Whether we want to disrupt the industry, or looking at different tools and partners out there, we’re always keeping ourselves open to learning new things and finding out how we can better grow our business and move it forward into the future.”

At Rebecca Minkoff, Millan is in charge of scaling its direct-to-consumer ecommerce business, and is leveraging omni-channel technology and data to bridge online and offline view of customer and develop targeted customer experiences. A test-and-learn approach is an integral part of curating the retail experience of the future, she said.

“While testing and learning is uncomfortable, it helps you push boundaries to understand the value of what works,” she said. “I’m also always on the lookout for what new technologies we can bring to the table. I feel there’s always that thirst for pushing the boundaries to find what’s new and what’s beneficial for us as a brand.

“But to be a disruptor, it’s a balancing act – you also need to build the right foundations and it’s important to have some structure and processes that drive efficiency.”

In addition, putting the customer first allows the company not simply to invest in technology for technology’s sake, Millan continued.

“We put our customer at the front and centre, while trying to also understand what are the new and emerging preferences are that we’re seeing from them,” she said. “In any new initiatives or tech implementation, we always put our customers first to see what is really beneficial for them.

“We also look at it from a channel agnostic way – as the brand, customers are engaging with us through so many different digital channels.”

Indochino is another retailer taking an innovative approach to the retail experience, one its CEO, Drew Green, described as a fiercely competitive one.

“You need to believe that being the best at what you do, and making sure you are the best,” he said.

Drew joined the Canadian-based brand in 2015 and, within months set the made-to-measure menswear retailer on a path to success. His focus, dedication and decisiveness led to expanding its retail showrooms in North America and dramatically increasing its product assortment to become a leader in made-to-measure menswear.

Both of these factors helped the company achieve record growth as well as secure a US$30 million investment from global apparel manufacturer, Dayang Group.

“Our key elements to our success has been to constantly ask who do we compete with – because we don’t just want to serve customers, we want to replace and disrupt the status quo,” Green said. “We’ve tried to shift the company from selling a product to selling the experience, and we’ve seen fantastic results.”

But in order to be the best, you also need to say no to opportunities that don’t fit within your carefully curated retail experience, Green said.

“Managing a disruptive business means having the belief in your vision, and saying no if an opportunity comes up that doesn’t necessarily fit with your purpose,” he said. “For instance, we don’t see an inventory model as fitting well with what we offer.”

With the company’s main target demographic being the next generation of millennial customers, Green said having both an innovative and fiercely competitive experience approach is also key to customer attraction and retention.

“Sixty five per cent of our customers are millennials, and while they want premium and quality, they also want the experience,” he explained. “It’s really about creating their own brand, customising the suit and personalising it to make it their own.

“With that comes patience, but it’s also something new and exciting - and gives us an opportunity to really think about the experience we’re providing.”

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