Luxottica VP marketing on role of Amazon, ecommerce and influencers on retail strategy

Marketing chief of optical retail group behind OPSM, Ray-Ban debates the future of retail and ecommerce

From left: Zenith's Nikkie Scriven, Digitas' Adrian Farouk; Luxottica's Milena Cavicchioli; Arc's Ivan Davies
From left: Zenith's Nikkie Scriven, Digitas' Adrian Farouk; Luxottica's Milena Cavicchioli; Arc's Ivan Davies

Retail stores of the future must be flexible to adapt to rapidly changing consumer demand, boast of embedded sustainability, and become experience and information destinations over transactional capability, Luxottica’s VP of marketing, Milena Cavicchioli, believes.

Speaking on yesterday's Zenith’s Connected Commerce event panel, the marketing leader for brands including OPSM, Ray-Ban and Oakley explained how ecommerce, in-store and social efforts have evolved at the organisation in response to consumer demands, the changing multi-channel retail landscape and the arrival not only of digital retail goliaths such as Amazon, but also social media commerce and influencer marketing.  

The panel was moderated by Zenith CEO, Nikkie Scriven, and also included Digitas CEO, Adrian Farouk, and Arc executive creative director, Ivan Davies.

For Luxottica, ecommerce is not just a transactional vehicle, but more importantly, a window for consumers into its brand, Cavicchioli said. As a result, ecommerce has become an increasingly vital part of its information and engagement strategy.

“We believe ecommerce is often the first point of communication. So the content has to be there,” Cavicchioli told attendees. In recent years, Luxottica has developed strategies not only for SEM and SEO to optimise search, but also online content to ensure its ecommerce offering is an information tool servicing both top and the bottom of the funnel.

“We have had to develop our teams and new content, including new content types and formats,” she said. 

Luxottica also has devised rules and clear guidelines for top and bottom of the funnel initiatives. With shared resources and data sets, rules are different depending on what it wants to talk to consumers about as a brand.

“We’ve developed a discipline so we don’t waste resources, both in terms of dollars or time spent,” Cavicchioli said. “It’s been a learning survey for our business over the last 5-7 years. We’re at a place now where it is obvious. But it wasn’t five years ago.”  

Yet online isn’t working in isolation. The future of retail for Cavicchioli is about a “blended” experience encompassing online and offline store experiences seamlessly.

“For us, it’s been about developing new assets and capabilities so ecommerce supports the brand and its impact in the market in a broader sense, both online and offline,” she said.  

Data is clearly underpinning Luxottica’s efforts to get there, but Cavicchioli said it’s not just ecommerce providing an information source. CRM is also important in gauging consumer requirements in order to feed back into strategies and ideas.

“Both help us better understand consumer trends. We’re lucky enough to have data from different types of communications, from fashion to more medical needs,” she continued. “We can map behaviours related to different sites, then use that data for both online and offline activities… This supports the brand overall.”

In this blended state, the store for Cavicchioli becomes a destination driven by experience. “We have trained our staff to help make the appropriate decision for you, for example, with lenses or the latest frames,” she said.

“We pride ourselves on the training the staff as the 'plus' of store experience. The online experience is then convenient, offers a full product assortment and is a branding and content/information space.”

But even as retail brand strive to balance online and offline, the rise of marketplaces such as Amazon, as well as social commerce and influencer marketing, have thrown brands another curve ball. In Luxottica’s case, Amazon is less a threat and more an opportunity to be where consumers are, Cavicchioli said. The brand collaborates with Amazon in the US, but hasn’t yet struck up a partnership in Australia or the Asia-Pacific region.

“The question is to understand how we approach consumers in that who find it easy, nice and comfortable to shop there,” Cavicchioli said. “With Amazon, we’ve built a solid partnership in terms of protecting the brands and the market. It’s an opportunity for us. We have to find a way to be where consumers are.”

Cavicchioli saw a similar situation facing brands in China, where platforms such as WeChat are dominant. “We have a responsibility to find a way to be where consumers are and where they are comfortable,” she said.

Yet even as she saw a place for influencers and social in the engagement chain and to drive sales, Cavicchioli said using social platforms just for transactions is a short-lived strategy and “the equivalent of giving consumers a big discount”. On social, it’s important to have a perspective and opinion as a brand and engage in storytelling, she said.

“It’s a bit risky just to hand over your message and personality to an influencer hoping it will stick. We need to build a conversation. The influencers then become a medium to tell the stories, build conversations and hear from your consumers,” she commented.

Meanwhile, regardless of whether physical stores become the predominant place for experience or for completing transactions, Cavicchioli said her wish list for the next five years is to see adaptability put front and centre.

“The pace of change is accelerating. It’s the new normal, it’s not disruption anymore,” she said. “The second thing is to tackle waste. We need to have embedded sustainability to evolve at the pace the world is evolving. The third thing is stores have a big role to play in education and information for consumers. This translates to staff. The transaction becomes a function of this. If it’s just about transactions, I’m going online.

“We need to find a way to make it easy, beautiful, exciting for consumers to step from one site or channel to the other.”

Read more from Zenith's former International Womens' Day panel discussion with marketers here.


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