A Passion For Fashion With A Marketing Flair™

Posts tagged “e-commerce

Bluefly.Com – An Amazing Fashion 2.0 Success Story

Founded in 1998, Bluefly, Inc. is a leading online retailer of designer brands, fashion trends and superior value.  The foremost online shopping destination features clothing and accessories from over 350 top European and American designers – all at amazing discounts.  Bluefly is “the ultimate hookup for the fashion obsessed.”

Under the leadership of chief marketing office Bradford Matson, Bluefly is increasing their brand value by engaging people in new forms of communication, collaboration, education and entertainment.  Matson understands fashion 2.0 and knows how to use it to attract new visitors to the Bluefly website.  Bluefly also knows how to engage those visitors and ultimately how to convert them into customers.

When I visited bluefly.com, among the first things that I noticed  were the variety of media  and social channels available to site visitors.   There were FLYPAPER and FLYTV.  Then as I scrolled down the page, there were invitations to watch Closet Confessions videos, to sign up for Bluefly emails and to play FLY or BYE?.  Near the bottom of the web page were Facebook and Twitter icons.  The things that I noticed on the website are tools of the “Bluefly marketing strategy, broken into three sectors: marketing programs, social media and offline.”

Bluefly website

“The company has also found success in television advertising on the Bravo network, an ideal vehicle for reaching its target ‘fashionista’ demographic,” Matson said, and in social media where it recently rolled out the Closet Confessions campaign.

“The goal is to drive new visitors to the site and increase the engagement of existing customers with videos,” said Bluefly chief marketing officer Bradford Matson. “People like Christian Siriano and Kelly Cutrone have become new-media celebrities. They have fans on Facebook and Twitter, they’re on reality TV; it’s a new world of style celebrities and we wanted to bring out their humanity.”  Bluefly ran online ads and video about the site on Condé Nast magazine sites including: Allure, Vogue, Lucky, W and Glamour; Glam’s network, WatchMojo.com and YouTube.

Blue Tube – Kelly Osbourne, posted with vodpod

Bluefly Closet Confessions - Kelly Osbourne

Bluefly also has a blog, a Twitter account and a Facebook page, not to mention prominent promotions with reality TV shows Project Runway and  America’s Next Top Model as well as the movie Sex and the City 2.

FLYPAPER - Blog

Bluefly Facebook page

Bluefly Twitter network

Bluefly Project Runway

“While one-third of Bluefly’s traffic comes from search and another third from e-mail, social media has been ‘very useful,’ said Matson. “It’s deepened our relationship to customers, increased spikes in traffic, and it catches the interest we create with off-line advertising.”

According to a recent article in Direct Marketing News, “Turning to social media is one way that Matson addresses the challenge of consumers who have snapped their wallets shut over the past few years, in the face of an increasingly painful recession and rising unemployment. In 2009, Bluefly’s revenues fell about 15% year over year to $81.2 million. It cut the marketing budget by about $6 million last year.”

“We stepped back and cut off offline advertising and spent our energies on learning about social and working with the marketing programs,” Matson said.

Bluefly was the first national retailer to use bar codes in its television commercials.  Last month, according to a New York Times article, “From the comfort of their sofas, mobile-phone users can scan a bar code embedded in commercials on certain evening shows on Bravo and instantly obtain additional information about a product and a discount to buy it.  The 45-second commercials by the online fashion retailer Bluefly show snippets of its Closet Confessions interviews with designers and celebrities like Bethenny Frankel, who appeared on The Real Housewives of New York City and the Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir … The commercials were seen on Top Chef, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, The Real Housewives of D.C., Flipping Out, Top Chef Just Desserts and The Rachel Zoe Project through the fall season.”

Screenshot of TV commercial with bar code

“When the cellphone is pointed at the on-screen bar code, the user is linked to a complete closet-baring episode, which can run as long as five minutes, and offered a $30 discount on a $150 purchase at bluefly.com”

Bluefly hopes that the ease and convenience of clicking on a bar code will encourage more viewers to learn about their website.  Online Closet Confessions fans, Mr. Matson said, have increased their shopping orders an average of 50 percent, from $300 to $450.  “We have added new style stars after the Web video series was so successful … We got a half-million page views the first month we launched it.  Closet Confessions, Mr. Matson said, “is custom-made for the fashion obsessed.”

Blue Tube – Christian Siriano, posted with vodpod

The Bluefly website is a delight to visit.  It is not just because of the great values offered on designer fashions.  Besides, there are numerous, discounted luxury brand websites on the Internet.   Bluefly leads the pack due to their creative CMO, Bradford Matson.  His integrated, multichannel marketing approach combines the fundamentals of a successful social media strategy with traditional marketing tactics.

Bluefly learned the basic rules of social media for business well by facilitating communication (i.e., email, Twitter, Facebook. iPhone app), collaboration (i.e., Facebook, FLY or BYE?Closet Confessions) , education (i.e., website, Twitter, Facebook) and entertainment (i.e., FLYTV, Closet Confessions) as engagement strategies to enable conversation and influence conversations.

FLY or BYE?

Bluefly iPhone app

In the end, it’s all about engagement.  Bluefly succeeded at collaborating with and entertaining their fan base.  They found their niche and used a blue ocean strategy that took them to the next level, well above the others that sell designer clothing at discount prices online.

“We all spent years trying to build this perfect mousetrap. We figured that you would just go there, but that’s never going to work,” Bluefly CMO, Bradford Matson says. “What we have to do is know enough about you, so when you land there we can show you paths of shopping to get to where you want. It’s a combination of personalization and customization.”


Louis Vuitton Leads Luxury Brands In Fashion 2.0

On Wednesday, October 6, the 156-year-old Parisian fashion brand, Louis Vuitton, will expand, even deeper, into the world of fashion 2.0 with their latest digital marketing activities.  Louis Vuitton will run its third live fashion show on Facebook in the last year.  The 7:30am ET show will feature the Spring/Summer 2011 Collection of designer Marc Jacobs.  It is scheduled to run for 10 to 15 minutes and will also be accessible on the Marc Jacobs iPhone and iPad apps.   The video presentation and additional footage will be available on Facebook a few hours later.

Louis Vuitton Facebook Page

Louis Vuitton - Facebook

During the last 16 months, Louis Vuitton has attracted 1.3 million Facebook LIKES and 145,000 Twitter followers (US and Paris). Those audiences, along with 26,400 Foursquare followers, will be leveraged to spread the word about the Facebook fashion show.

Louis Vuitton - Twitter

Louis Vuitton - Foursquare

The Art of Travel by Louis Vuitton, your official destination for everything Louis Vuitton, is the theme for an ongoing Facebook campaign used to promote the webcast.  After visitors sign up to be on the guest list for the live fashion show webcast, they will unlock the Louis Vuitton 360° Fashion Badge.  The badge will also appear on their Facebook profile.  Video footage will be uploaded to the Louis Vuitton YouTube channel, which has more than 679,000 views.

Louis Vuitton - YouTube

Currently the Louis Vuitton website features Bono and Ali Hewson, founders of Edun – a for-profit fashion company.   They take website visitors on a Journey To the Heart of Africa. The interactive, international e-commerce site describes the mission of  Edun – to raise awareness of the possibilities in Africa and encourage the fashion community to do business there.   To further celebrate the creative potential of Africa, Louis Vuitton is hosting a temporary exhibition from October 5-17, 2010 in Paris.

Annie Leibovitz photographed Bono and Ali for the Louis Vuitton ad – Every Journey Began In Africa.

Louis Vuitton - Website

The Louis Vuitton website stands out from competitors, gains attention and attracts traffic to the website.  It converts visitors into customers and transforms their past and present successes into dynamic, inviting forces of attraction.  The Louis Vuitton website differentiates itself from competitive luxury brands with engaging, interactive campaigns – The Art of Travel and Journey To the Heart of Africa.

Visualize the Louis Vuitton website as a presentation of fashion with a heart.  It is an awesome integrated marketing effort where e-commerce, fashion and Louis Vuitton core values merge.

Louis Vuitton marketing efforts take fashion 2.0 to the next level.


Fashion 2.0 And The Plus-Size Fashion Revolution

For the first time, New York Fall Fashion Week will include a plus-size only, runway show.  OneStopPlus.com, the premiere online high-fashion destination for curvy, voluptuous women, will produce the show that is set for September 15, 2010 at The Atrium in Frederick P. Rose Hall (home of Jazz at Lincoln Center).  The curvy, Belle Épogue-themed catwalk will reportedly feature plus-size models like Lizzie Miller and Toccara Jones in Spring 2011 collections.  OneStopPlus brand evangelist Emme will also be on hand to host the red carpet.  Brands to be featured will include the best in American and European plus-size designs.

A plus-size runway show coinciding with the high-fashion shows for NYC Fashion Week at Lincoln Center is major.   As a result, I was curious about what the plus-size fashion niche is doing to join the online conversation and fashion 2.0 explosion.  When I Googled “plus-size fashion websites,” I was amazed to find 7.1 million results.

There are many more plus-size fashion websites, blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter networks and online communities than I can write about in this post.  The following are a sampling of the ones that stood out because of their engaging fashion 2.0 marketing tactics:

OneStopPlus.com

(Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online community)

OSP Website

Positioned as “Your Online Fashion Mall for Sizes 12W to 44W, ”  OSP (OneStopPlus.com) is more than just an e-commerce website.  It is an online community for curvy women.  There is the OSP Shopper’s Club, OSPMag, Facebook page, YouTube Channel and Twitter network.  The entire OSP online community is easily accessible from the website.  Visitors are invited to share and enjoy their OSP experience.

OSP - Twitter

Lane Bryant

(Website, Facebook, Twitter, online community, mobile marketing)

The plus-size market giant, joins the fashion 2.0 arena with Inside Curve.  The web community invites plus-size women to join  Inside Curve – a trilogy for girlfriends of fashion, fun, and friends. It is a new community where trendsetting, plus-size women hang out to celebrate all things fashionable – including themselves!

Lane Bryant embraces fashion 2.0 for most of their online brands with Facebook and Twitter. In addition, Lane Bryant Internet shoppers can get coupons sent directly to their cellphones  as well as be the first to hear about new fashion arrivals and special store events in their area with MSG ME – Lane Bryant’s text messaging program.

Lane Bryant - Facebook

Igigi

(Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube)

Igigi website

Igigi (pronounced ee zhee zhee) began in 2000.  Plus-size women used to be relegated to wearing caftan-like dresses.  Well, no more!  Igigi is a plus-size clothing retailer that offers dresses for plus-size women in sizes 14 to 32. You will not find any caftan type dresses at Igigi. Their dresses cling to all the right curves and are cut to accentuate the positive.

Igigi does carry other items like tops and pants since their niche is definitely dresses (including bridal). Their clothing are comfortable, flattering and fashionable.  Plus-size woman visit the Igigi site because it has one of the best online selections of dresses for work, play and special occasions.

Size Appeal

(Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube)

Clothes should enhance and not inhibit curvy women. Size Appeal breaks the stereotype of traditional plus-size clothing, like the boxy styles that make women look bigger and older.   Instead, Size Appeal follows the curve in body and style.   They strive to achieve the perfect cut and style every time.

Size Appeal - YouTube

Plus-Size Fashion  Moving To Luxury Brands

There is definitely a market for large, lovely women worldwide. Smart designers, retailers and marketers recognize that there is a void to fill.  According to a 2008 survey conducted by Mintel, a marketing research firm, the most frequently worn size in America is a 14.  Furthermore, government statistics show that 64%  of American women are overweight (the average woman weighs 164.7 pounds).   More than one-third are obese. Yet plus-size clothing (typically size 14 and above) represents only 18% of total revenue in the women’s clothing industry. In addition,  a quarter of women are size 18 or bigger – up 45% in five years.   The Mintel Study also shows that the UK market for plus-size clothing has never been bigger, with 45%  growth in the plus-size, women’s wear market over the past five years.

Reflecting the trend, top designers are producing collections for bigger women.   Marc Jacobs is rumored to be entering plus-size fashions.   The Marc Jacobs fashion house is in talks about producing a range in size 14 and up.  Designer Mark Fast made waves when he sent size 12 and 14 models down his catwalk during London Fashion Week and size 16 model Crystal Renn, who has a huge effect in the industry.

Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC will soon add plus-sized garments to its high-end, designer department. While clothes from most luxury labels were previously sold only up to a size 10, size 14 will hit the racks from Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Toula, Akris, Armani, Carolina Herrera, Escada, Donna Karan, St. John, Oscar de la Renta, Max Mara, Valentino, Michael Kors, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Fendi and Roberto Cavalli.   Some pieces will be available in sizes 16 to 20.  Saks will stock everything from pantsuits to evening wear.  However, there is a catch.   For most items, you’ll find only one of each size.  In addition, if the initiative is successful in Manhattan,  then Saks will stock the plus-size clothes in stores around the country.

Last summer, Target began carrying a line called Pure Energy that translated young, trendy clothes to larger sizes, adding to its more mature plus-size offerings.  “We definitely view this category as a growth opportunity,” said Target spokeswoman, Katie Heinze. After testing Pure Energy in some stores, Target decided to carry it in all 1,740 outlets.  Elie Tahari, the high-end designer, began selling a plus-size line this year and at Full-Figured Fashion Week, more than 25 other designers showed their plus-size clothes to an audience of retail buyers and plus-size women.

The plus-size fashion revolution is here and plus-size fashion 2.0 is in full force.  More brands are adding plus-sizes, curvaceous models are walking the Fashion Week runway and fashion websites, blogs and social networks are embracing plus-sizes.  It appears the fashion industry is finally recognizing the opportunities that exist in a market segment that was not considered very glamorous.  The changing demographics are making a big difference, no pun intended!


Talbots Makeover – You’ve Come A Long Way Baby!

Talbots is not you’re grandmother’s store any more.  This savvy retailer is boldly moving their 63 year-old company ahead on the fashion 2.0 landscape with an updated, e-commerce website, engaging Facebook page and Twitter account.   In addition, Talbots Inc. is now a favorite on Wall Street, thanks to cost cuts and a complex financial arrangement for unloading its enormous debt.

Photo: Talbots

The Company
“The Talbots, Inc. is a multichannel retailer of women’s apparel, shoes and accessories known for modern classic style. Its signature Talbots brand serves a broad diversity of women within the fast-growing 35+ population through an extensive range of styles and sizes. It operates seamlessly across three sales channels – stores, catalog and Internet.”

The Brand
“Talbots is a leading specialty retailer and direct marketer of women’s classic clothing, shoes and accessories. Established in 1947, the company is known for legacy items like the perfect blazer, trustworthy trench, versatile white shirt, ballet flats and pearls, as well as its fine workmanship, gracious service and welcoming red doors. With a nod to tradition infused with modern flair, Talbots offers an array of timeless wardrobe options to flatter women of all shapes and sizes. The Company currently operates stores in 580 locations in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. Its online shopping site is located at www.talbots.com.”

Photo: Talbots

To solidify its comeback and boost sales, Talbots must complete a merchandise and image makeover that targets younger customers. Rejuvenating a brand that many women think of as perfect for their grandmothers is complicated.  Talbots must make its clothes more youthful without alienating its core customers during the transition as well as persuade a new segment of women in their 30s and 40s to consider shopping there.

Trudy Sullivan, Talbots chief executive, is attempting to refocus on women 35 and older.    She joined the company Fall 2007 and has introduced some younger items, including slim jackets and feminine dresses.  With Sullivan’s help, Talbots is aiming to make their fashions more hip with looks that include a sequin-trimmed sweater and leopard-print-lined black booties. So far, they have had some hits and some misses. For example, last spring, “ethnic” prints in bright colors including orange and lime green did not work for them.  But this fall, a “pant fit initiative” gives customers a $5 gift card for trying on a pair from the new pants styles. The retailer sold 590,000 pairs in nine weeks. In addition,  First Lady Michelle Obama has been spotted numerous times in Talbots clothing.

Dress by Talbots

Judging by the comments to a WSJ article this year in April about the  Talbots image makeover, some of the core customers are not happy with the changes.  Fortunately there were also those that embraced the change, “Classic can mean timeless, not just dowdy and that, I think, is what Talbots is trying to do.”   It’s a catch-22 situation.  “Talbots not only needs to get its core customer spending more, it also needs to get a new customer,” said Roxanne Meyer, executive director of specialty retail at UBS Investment Research.  Only time will tell.

Another effort to refresh their image is making Linda Evangelista the new face of Talbots.   The 44-year-old supermodel and mother was photographed by top photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott for a glossy advertising campaign which will be launched in September.  According to Talbots chief marketing officer, Lori Wagner, “She possesses this timeless yet spontaneous glamour that’s irresistible in our minds.”

It is obvious that social media is an important tactic in Talbots marketing strategy to reposition the brand. There are 4 key steps to success in social media marketing: LISTEN, SEGMENT & TARGET, INTERACT and NOTIFY & SCORE that Talbot incorporated on the way to re-branding.  The following are examples of how they did it:

LISTEN
Talbot listened and aimed to attract younger customers.   According to Kate Goodman, director of e-commerce at Talbots, “Customers are encouraged to share their insights, advice, wisdom, and humor. This platform (“Pearls of Wisdom”) allows our customers to speak freely to us about who they are and what Talbots means to them … This allows us to create a broader, more relevant community by encouraging customers to share emotional experiences — within Talbots.com instead of some third-party site.”

Talbots website

SEGMENT & TARGET
Talbots refocused on women 35 and older, persuading a new segment of women in their 30’s and 40’s to consider shopping there and making their clothes more youthful without alienating their core customers during the transition.

INTERACT

The Talbot website has an engaging, interactive section, “Pearls of Wisdom,” that is powered by the Bazaarvoice social commerce platform.   According to the company, “Pearls of Wisdom: Your Voice” provides Talbots customers with a place to share their stories, opinions, and style.  They are encouraged to address topics close to their hearts, including summer reading lists, embarrassing moments with moms and their absolute worst Valentine’s Day gifts. Topics are promoted by email and Facebook.    Top stories and writers are highlighted on Talbots Facebook fan page.

Talbots Facebook fan page

On the Talbots Facebook page, there is also an interactive Look Book, link to an article in  WWD about Talbots, exclusive offers for fans and a link to find a store near you.

Talbots Look Book on Facebook fan page

NOTIFY & SCORE
The “pant fit initiative” gives customers a $5 gift card for trying on a pair from the new pants styles. The retailer sold 590,000 pairs in nine weeks.  Promoting “Pearl of Wisdom” topics by email, tweets promote what is going on at Talbots and an opportunity to sign-up for email notification about special offers are other ways that Talbots is using social media marketing.

Talbots on Twitter

Talbots was known as the label for suburban moms.  Now, with the repositioning, “Talbots blends equal parts tradition and imagination to surprise and delight with timeless apparel and innovative experiences that women crave.”  I love the new look and their fashion 2.0 achievements.  Creating “Pearls of Wisdom” and promoting it through email and on Facebook is definitely an innovative tactic.

However, Talbots still has work to do. For example, why not include the Facebook and Twitter icons on the website as well as add a YouTube channel featuring runway videos?  These minor adjustments will expand their reach even further among younger women and ultimately take Talbots to the next level of fashion and retail success.

Talbots.com website home page


Fashion 2.0 Thought Leaders: Gilt Groupe

This week 4Fashionistas recognizes viral marketing phenomenon, Gilt Groupe  as our next social fashion thought leader and its founders (Kevin P. Ryan, Alexis Mayback and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson).

An idea for selling discounted luxury brands online was sparked when Kevin P. Ryan, former CEO of the online ad company DoubleClick, observed a long line of women waiting to get into a Marc Jacobs sample sale in NYC. It was his Aha! moment. Ryan was aware of Vente Privée, the very successful French company selling fashion overstock online and believed that the Vente Privée business model could work just as well in America. According to Ryan, “All I could think was, if there are 200 people who are willing to stand in this line, that means in the United States there are probably hundreds of thousands,” Ryan says. “But they don’t live in New York, they’re busy right now, they just can’t do that. And I can bring this sample sale to them.”

Ryan hired two computer engineers to start building a website and Alexis Maybank as the company’s chief operating officer.  A few months later, Maybank brought in her longtime friend and Harvard B-School chum, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson to leverage her luxury fashion contacts and experience for the company.  Then in November 2007, Gilt Groupe was formed.  What Gilt Groupe does is called a “flash sale” – a virtual version of a designer sample sale.  It seldom advertises.  Instead Gilt Groupe relies on word-of-mouth; offering current members incentives to invite their friends to join.  “What Gilt did, I think it’s a combination of vision and smarts and timing,” says Steven Kolb, executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which has been working in partnership with Gilt Groupe, acting as a bridge between the company and designers.

Gilt Groupe takes the fashion merchandising business model to the next level integrating e-commerce, WOMM and SMM … voilà Fashion 2.0!  It blends social media into the marketing plan with a blog on the website, email, Linkedin, YouTube, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc. that transforms data into actions to engage, amplify awareness and generate leads.  Cloud computing, a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet, is the technology behind the Gilt Groupe website.

Gilt Groupe is part of the AlleyCorp network, a network of affiliated companies founded by Kevin Ryan and Dwight Merriman.  It is the leading source for today’s top designer brands for women, men, children and luxury living …  insider prices at up to 70% off retail.

The Guild Groupe vision: “Lead the world to a life more beautiful.”  And, what a beautiful life it is with discounted designer brands, 70% off retail, at a click of the mouse.


Building An E-Commerce Fashion Business

A recent article in The Business of Fashion (BOF) provided a case study about how Company of We built a strong online sales channel.   CLICK HERE to view that article.  Their web site, Facebook page and Twitter account take Company of We to the next level of Fashion 2.0 ferocity.

4Fashionistas is about social media marketing in the fashion industry. The following are tips to move your online, fashion business ahead on the road to becoming fierce in Fashion 2.0:

7 Tips To Becoming Fierce In Fashion 2.0

1. A Consistent Online Brand Identity

Customize your Facebook page, Twitter background, YouTube channel, e-mail messages, etc. to be consistent with the look and feel of your web site.  It will strengthen and enhance your brand message.

2. Engage

Be imaginative, ask questions, monitor conversations and then respond promptly.  You can be the first to answer your own question to get things moving.   As people become interested in the discussion,  everyone will want to give their opinion.

3. Share

Remember social media is not about tooting your own horn. You have to give to get. You cannot provide something of value to others if your top priority is selling more of your product. Approach your online consumers with the attitude that you have something of value to provide, free of charge (i.e., newsletter, whitepaper, promotion). In exchange for that, you hope to build and strengthen relationships. Over time, those relationships, will equal a much higher return on investment than one-time customers.   Finally, offer advice as well as ask questions.

4. Interact

It is very simple to answer questions from customers, potential customers and those that haven’t yet become potential customers. When you respond to questions, you are providing many people with instant gratification. When people interact, they discuss matters that are important to them and topics of interest to them. Many times that includes speaking about products and services that are on the market … including yours.

5. Be Human

Personalize your conversations with people and improvise based on where the conversation takes you.  Speak in the language that people understand.   Sincerely flatter your subscribers, friends and those that leave a comment by responding to them.  This nurtures your growing community.  Actively reach out to people you admire using social media and pay them a compliment by commenting on their blogs, following their tweets, linking to their content, etc.

6. Listen

Listen for and respond to both positive and negative comments.  This multiplies the good vibes around your brand.  Pay attention to what your competitors are doing, which trends are important to follow, which new products and services might help you in your business, what is going on with pricing and of utmost importance … what people are saying about you and your business.  Then talk about what people want to hear.

7. Measure

Each social media community has different types of measurements.  Decide which ones best help you define your success or failure.