A Word for the Newbies

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I always feel a little guilty when a recent grad, resume in attachment lands in my inbox. I wish I could help you with your job search, I really do but I’m probably not your best resource for you at this stage of your career. The problem is I have a soft spot for entry level candidates. What’s not to love? The creative enthusiasm, unlimited possibilities, hope and willingness to work hard.

So, while I’m not able to directly assist you allow me to offer a strategic approach to landing your first job. This one goes out to the newbies.

Select a Market Segment

Choose your market segment and choose wisely. Want to work in Fashion? Don’t apply at Columbia Sportswear. Your first employer can pigeon hole your resume into the types of companies who will even consider your candidacy for future employment. And the next, and so on. It’s a domino effect. We humans like to put people into boxes. I know you think you’ll be able to make the jump from The North Face to Nordstrom, and maybe you will but it won’t be easy. Why make life hard? Hiring managers like to see a theme of companies within a specific market segment. Down the road, consistency adds value to your resume and recruiters will be calling. Maybe me.

Popular market segments include, Active or Athletic Apparel, Outdoor, Action Sports, Contemporary, Denim, Fashion, Intimates or Ready-to-Wear.

Identify

Identify 10-20 companies you’d like to work for keeping in mind the market segment per the former. What not to do: apply with any company who has a job posted on the internet. Sure, I know what you’re thinking, you need a job. It’s tempting, I get it. A word to remember, equanimity. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Target only those companies you truly want to work for and eventually you’ll find a way in. Promise. Remember, your first and second job has the propensity to dictate your career path so choose wisely.

Network

Let’s pretend for a self-indulgent moment that one of your well identified companies has a job opportunity immediately available. Great! Apply online, get the job and live happily ever after. Back to reality. That’s often not the case. The companies you want to work for may not have any positions available. That’s where networking and directly targeting becomes invaluable. How do I mean? I’m not going to talk about how leveraging your network is a good idea. That’s obvious. If you have a friend or contact at a desired company, obviously reach out to this person. There are plenty of blogs and websites that discuss this in great length. Instead let’s look at a direct approach to getting in front of the hiring squad.

Target

Start by identifying human resources and corporate recruiters within a desired company. This can be done on LinkedIn by running an advanced people search. Type in the company name and title (HR or Recruiter) and presto! A list of names should appear. Once you have a name you can then contact them directly via email or you can send them a message on LinkedIn provided you share a group. It’s free! I wouldn’t recommend calling or leaving voicemails. The ROI is about as high as direct mail and frankly, it can be perceived as a nuisance.

Next, I suggest crafting an introductory email, similar to a cover letter but more engaging. Get creative. Tell them who you are, what you do and why you want to work for their company. How do you personally relate to the brand? Are you and end user? Include your resume, link to portfolio if appropriate and then express your interest in future career opportunities their company may have to offer. You may receive an acknowledgement email response, or you may get nothing. That’s okay too. Instead of sending your resume into the abyss of online applications you’ve positioned yourself directly in front of someone who has the power to interview.

Worth It 

The timeline of finding a job can vary depending on several factors. It’s best to blend your efforts. Combine the direct, targeted approach with joining appropriate LinkedIn groups and leverage your network. Don’t compromise on the direction of your career. Finding the right fit may take some time but we promise it will be worth the investment.

Counter Offers. You Suck.

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Q. I've gone through the entire interview process and received a great offer; a better opportunity with a better company.  I've analyzed and agonized over the decision to leave my current position, for what appears to be a better one, and I've decided to accept the offer. However, upon resigning, my current boss asks me to stay and made me a counteroffer. Now what? - Nicole, Los Angeles. 

 

A. Career changes are tough enough as it is, and anxieties about leaving a comfortable job, friends and location and having to reprove yourself again in an unknown opportunity can cloud the best logic. But just because the new position is a little scary doesn’t mean it’s not a positive move.  Since counteroffers can create confusion and buyer’s remorse, you should understand what you’re up against.

Counteroffers usually involve offering more money, a promotion or future promises. The Emotional Counter Offer is a calculated approach to guilting you into staying with the company.

“You’re too valuable.  We need you.”

You can’t desert the team and leave them hanging.”

“Why would you want to work for that company?”

“We were just about to give you a promotion, and it was confidential until now.”

Consider this

Where did the additional money or responsibility you would get come from?  Was your next raise or promotion just given early?  Will you be limited in the future?  Will you have to threaten to quit in order to get your next raise?  Might a cheaper replacement be sought out?

You’ve demonstrated your unhappiness or lack of blind loyalty, and will be perceived as having committed blackmail to gain a raise. You won’t ever be considered a team player again.  Many employers will hold a grudge at the next review period, and you may be placed at the top of the next reduction-in-force “hit list”.

Apart from a short-term, band-aid treatment, nothing will change within the company.  After the dust settles from this upheaval, you’ll be in the same old rut.  A rule of thumb is that more than 80% of those who accept counteroffers leave, or are terminated, within six to 12 months.  And half of those who accept counteroffers reinitiate their job searches within 90 days.

Finally, when you make your decision, look at your current job and the new position as if you were unemployed.  Which opportunity holds the most real potential?  Probably the new one or you wouldn’t have accepted it in the first place.

Top 10 Reasons Not to Accept a Counter Offer

1.After resigning, you have made your employer aware that you were looking and unhappy. Your loyalty will now be in question.

2. When promotion/raise time comes around, your employer will remember who is loyal and who is not.

3. When making difficult decisions about cut-backs, the company may begin with those that are deemed less loyal.

4. Accepting a Counter-Offer is an insult to your intelligence and a blow to your personal pride, to simply be bought at the last minute.

5. Where was the extra money for a counter-offer at during your last performance review? Most companies have strict wage/salary guidelines and may be simply giving your next raise early or buying time to hire someone in your place.

6. The same circumstances that now cause you to consider making a change almost always reoccur within the next 6-12 months.

7. Statistics show that if you accept a counter-offer, the probability of voluntarily leaving in 6 months or being let go within 1 year are extremely high.

8. Once the word gets out, the relationship you now enjoy with co-workers will never be the same. You lose personal satisfaction of the peer group acceptance.

9. What type of company do you want to work for if you have to threaten to resign before they give you what you are worth?

10. Accepting counter-offers after already accepting another position burns bridges with other companies, your recruiter, and ultimately shows all 3 parties that you can be bought.Need more evidence? Do your own homework: google counteroffers and see what you find….

Confusion. Now Available in Digital.

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I’m having a LOT of conversations about the need for digital talent. There seems to be an endless stream of confusion around this topic in general and even more questions around who to hire and for what type of role.

We’re just not sure exactly what we need. We’re having a hard time distilling down our goals into a translatable job description and functional position. How do we structure the role within the larger organization; who are their cross functional partners? 

Does this sound familiar? Let’s all take a deep breath and consider the solution…

Step 1: Determine leadership level

You know you need digital leadership but maybe you can’t afford a senior level executive. Hey, no hard feelings. This is real life. Director level talent will still offer the leadership you need to develop strategy, build and guide teams while still having close hands-on experience with execution. 

Step 2: Name your price

On a budget? Forget the C-Suite, skip the VP and aim for Director level talent. This will cut your price tag in half. Literally. Decide what you can afford, realistically.

Step 3: Structure the role

You have a lot of needs but aren’t sure how to structure a position that reflects your goals. I could wax on about the various functions within DTC but instead I’ll break it down into three major camps of talent for the sake of sanity and simplicity. Emphasis sanity.

Digital Marketing: Integrated marketing channels i.e. SEO, email, paid search, paid social, PPC, etc. Highly analytical and driven by KPIs and metrics.

Brand / Content Marketing: Brand communication strategy. Establishes creative tone, content and copy through channels. Typically, more creative and conceptual.

eCommerce: Site functionality, site experience, operational and sales. Customer acquisition and retention.

Major broad strokes but most Digital and DTC roles will align with one of these three. You can mix and match or combine elements from each role as well.

Customize. 

There’s no one size fits all. When we develop digital positions, we begin by determining the long term strategic goals and then reverse engineer the position based on these goals considering the company size, needs and circumstances both immediate and future. 

Happy Hunting

Ask Lucy - Frustrated with Job Boards?

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Question

We posted a job on multiple sites, are eager to hire but have received minimal applicants. Those who have applied are often outside of our industry. What are we doing wrong?

– Shannon from NYC

Answer

If you’ve ever used a job board you know all too well that they can be inefficient, ineffective and frustrating.

Job Boards are Transactional

Highly impersonal, there is no connection between the employer and prospective talent. No conversation. Only a cold, sometimes sterile description that demands a resume for consideration. Talent has no idea where the resume goes or who it goes to. The chief complaint I hear among talent is referred to as the black hole of resumes. Even when job seekers send their resume as directed, they rarely receive a response of any kind. Job seekers have become weary of this unpromising process and are much more reluctant to apply than in the past. Both active and passive job seekers want a personal connection. A point of contact with a pulse. A person with whom they can engage with, ask questions and connect with directly.

Job Postings are Poorly Written

Sterile. That’s putting it nicely. The purpose of posting a job is to attract talent. There’s nothing appetizing about a laundry list of job duties and responsibilities. Yawn. How would you tell a friend about an open position at your company? You’d likely begin with all the reasons why you like to work there. You would tell the story, the narrative that frames you brand, company and culture. The majority of job postings share little insight into company culture and the people. At best, it’s a history lesson and humble brag session. Talent wants to know why they should apply for your job. They’re not just looking for a job, per se. They are looking for more than a paycheck. And while that may vary from person to person there are a few common themes.

Job Seekers are More Savvy

Job boards are becoming passé. The smart job hunter isn’t surfing job boards. A decade ago posting a job proved to be much more successful than it is today. Before the rise of LinkedIn and the abundance of social networking there weren’t as many choices.

Now prospective job seekers are getting more proactive. Talent can contact a hiring manager, internal recruiter or HR directly. They’re doing their homework, conducting research on your brand long before they even consider applying. Without a well communicated approach, the desirable candidates are bypassing the yell and sell of a job description turned job post.

You Must Go To Them

You must go to them. It’s highly unlikely that the candidates you desire are sitting around waiting for you. They’re busy and they’re tire of the fluff, the billboard approach. They want a personal connection, transparency and engagement. They want to know what it’s really like to work for your company.

You must have a recipe, a strategy, a process. So before you post and pray, consider a more calculated approach to talent acquisition.

I've developed a proven system that works, every time. No job boards, no surfing LinkedIn.

Are you looking for the solution?

-Ask Lucy

 

Download Hire Like a Boss to Land the Ideal Candidate

 

Fashion It Forward

 
 
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The Junior League of Portland is hosting Fashion it Forward, a pop-up (fashion) shop in September. 100% of the proceeds go towards the JLP’s 1910 Campaign with the goal of raising $110,000 in celebration for our 110th birthday in 2020. This money will be donated to our community partner, New Avenues for Youth a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention and intervention of youth homelessness.

Please consider donating any gently used women’s apparel, footwear or accessories. Donations are tax deductible. A tax receipt will be provided.

For more information please contact: dione@findthefit.net

 

Digital Customer Experience, and the Curation of it All

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Author: Maggie Walsh

Aesthetics and ease are the two most important components of the digital customer experience (DCX). Websites aren’t just selling product anymore. They’re selling experiences. Customers want to enter a digital world and feel like they belong, or that they aspire to belong. And they want it to be simple and pain-free. The companies that prioritize these ideals create a winning DCX, and ultimately, customer retention.

Companies like Glossier and Bando have a vibe that makes their customers feel like part of a lifestyle.  The photos are curated and interesting, product descriptions are pithy, and graphics add to the overall feel of the company - all of it elevating the DCX. In online retailing especially, the product can’t speak for itself the same way it can in a brick-and-mortar retail store. The website has to assist in telling the product story to make customers buy into the products, and by extension, the brand.

Aesthetics include not only beautiful product and graphics, but quality. Quality of a website enhances the DCX, making the customer feel comfortable entering their personal and financial information. Professional and secure websites are instrumental in gaining a customer’s trust and loyalty.

Of course, there are always exceptions to any rule. Amazon, the online giant no one can slay, has arguably the worst aesthetic of any online retail superpower. What they have done right is make it so easy to shop, it’s sincerely hard for any customer not to. Amazon Prime, recommended/related items, and Alexa have created a user-friendly online eco-system that keeps a customer enmeshed in the Amazon of it all. One-click purchase and high page loading speed prevents frustrated customers from abandoning their cart. A January 2018 article on Inc.com proves the importance of technical ease, “just a 1-second delay in load time can hurt (purchase) conversion rates by 7 percent.” Amazon has made it a priority to make the journey from product search to order confirmation a frictionless process. What Amazon lacks in beauty, it makes up tenfold in utility.

DCX extends to all digital platforms – including social media presence and mobile friendliness. Customers are increasingly online shopping from the comfort of their phones.  A difficult experience during a mobile session is a surefire way to lose a customer. If your website isn’t easy to navigate, the customer will find one that is. Websites have to translate their aesthetic to social media in a way that makes sense for the brand, while creating interesting content that customers want to see beyond product placement.

There aren’t a lot of subjects I consider myself an expert in, but online shopping is one of them. While waiting in line at Starbucks, I’m just as likely to be browsing dresses on Shopbop as I am to be scrolling through Instagram. The sites and brands I return to again and again are the sites that are fun to look through and easy to navigate. They feel most adjacent to walking into one of my favorite stores. That is the winning formula for DCX.

 

 

 

 

 

Endangered List:  Chief Digital Officer

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Author: Maggie Walsh

When it comes to C-Suite positions, executives can generally count on the staying power of their position. Most companies will always need a CEO, a CFO, and a CMO. But what about the relatively new Chief Digital Officer (CDO)? Can they count on a tenured spot within the company? The strategy for most CDO positions is a relatively short-term one. Companies expect a CDO to come on board, right the digital ship, and then move those maintenance and update responsibilities to parallel executives, like marketing, technology or information.

A November 2017 study predicted that the CDO will be phased out of most companies by 2025 (gartner.com). That feels counter-intuitive, given how digital-driven life has become in 2018. The reason for the disappearing CDO is twofold. One, a lot of the responsibilities that belong to the CDO are duplicates. Two, the main goal for the CDO is to take a company who is behind in their digital strategy and bring them up to speed. Luxury fashion, for example, is an industry that is notoriously behind the technological times. Luxury has felt somewhat exempt from the digital revolution for all these years. However, they are finally realizing they can no longer hold out, and are modernizing their strategies with the help of CDOs.

In a study conducted by PwC, only 19% of organizations reported having a CDO in 2016, and 60% of those CDOs were appointed between 2015 and 2016 (pwc.com). What seems like such a vital piece of a company’s overall health appears to be in the hands of, essentially, temporary employees. The CDO comes in when the digital situation is dire, and they improve the internal and external digital user experience, and move on - acting as digital “fixers”. The CDO of Shiseido succinctly described the purpose of the CDO to Glossy.com, saying, “CDOs are temporary. We are here to inject a new way of working, one that is about ongoing experimentation, trial and error, fail forward, push forward . . . We can be successful in this job if we are out as fast as possible.”

CDOs face the exciting challenge of reviving a company’s digital scope, while maintaining its original DNA. While this can be difficult, it is a high risk/high reward situation - especially in retail, where revamped web sites historically produce a stronger revenue stream, an easy measure of success. Getting there can be difficult, as CDOs often aren’t given their own team, but rely on various marketing or tech employees for strategy execution.

Why do CDOs only exist in a short burst? Why don’t companies want to continue to evolve their digital footprint and experience even after tech mistakes have been corrected? Isn’t there room for a CDO as the importance of user experience, systems, and a company’s digital face continues to grow with the technology available? In order to continue to NOT have a digital problem, it feels essential for companies to keep a CDO who will continue to grow the digital side of the business. I guess we’ll have to wait until 2025 to get the answer to that question.

 

 

The Nebulous Role of the Chief Digital Officer

Author: Cammy Pedroja, Ph.D.

Your business is fashion and retail. So, if you already have a chief technology officer, a chief information officer, and a chief marketing officer, you have no need for a chief digital officer, right? Wrong. Well, probably wrong. Continuing in our writing series of topics within the tech, digital, and online retail spheres, we at Find the Fit want to address any questions you may have about the role of a CDO in fashion and retail, and whether or not your company or brand really needs one to succeed.

The continuously shifting borders defining what should be inside a CDO’s purview may have kept many leaders in the fashion industry from investing the time, money, and talent required to define this position and to recruit enough top talent to fill it. But fashion brands and retailers, especially in high-end and luxury, have been notoriously slow to adapt to the complexities of the new consumer-centric market. That’s where the need for an executive with true digital vision comes in.

Near the beginning of the title’s conception several years ago, many CDOs had marketing backgrounds. But now, according to CIO Magazine, more and more executives coming to fill this title are armed with plenty of hard tech experience. So, what’s the most effective type of talent for the role of CDO? It’s our guess that the sweet spot lies somewhere in the middle.

In 2018, there’s no such thing as a successful fashion business whose inner workings don’t look a lot like a tech business. And no matter how incredible your product is, if you’re not working to stay out in front of consumer-centric selling and manufacturing innovations, you won’t be thought of as a top-notch business, and won’t survive the final years of the digital revolution of industry.

What many of the best CDO’s have in common is a mixture of digital/technical know-how and skill, combined with a talent for customer strategy and service, as well as the ability to tie all of these aspects of modern business strategy together into a cohesive vision that works in real life. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have the people skills necessary to weave all these disparate threads of modern business together. As CIO Magazine puts it, “The best chief digital officers are able to envision a company’s digital future and also bring other executives and users on board with that vision.”

Are you a CEO considering how you’ll adapt to the marketplace of the future? Or an underling looking for a good idea to run up the chain to the boss? Creating a role for a CDO could be a winning strategy. Just make sure you have clear goals about what that role will contribute before you take the plunge.

 

 

 

Video Trends in Ecommerce and Digital Marketing

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Author: Anna Jones

In the digital marketing age, the trends are clear: videos for consumers and within digital marketing campaigns are extremely popular in the world of advertising. In recent years, video marketing has been primarily targeted towards millennials and online shoppers, as 2015 saw approximately “$16.2 billion spent at independently owned retailers and restaurants,” according to Forbes.com.

These insights come not only from dollars spent, but also from shoppers polled. A 2017 Robin Report cites that shoppers remain unimpressed with ecommerce models of engagement and experiential marketing - that’s where video marketing comes in. Because video is the “main channel for millennials and Gen Z,” advertisers have learned to utilize it to their advantage. Facebook is a good example of this - when the social media giant changed its algorithm in 2015 to push Facebook Live (and hence, video), it changed the social media consumer landscape.

According to Ben Winkler, CIO of agency OMD, “Facebook has been studying TV for a few years now, and they see there is a certain equation to the size and success of TV.” As Facebook has made the most money from its online ads, with reported revenue being $10.2 billion in 2016, the company is now looking to make even more by investing in video ads and video content.

 

 

 

While Facebook is gearing up to be a television competitor, marketers must taken into consideration that Facebook video advertising is not the same as advertising on Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat, etc. Marketers often make the mistake of thinking that a call-to-action is enough - it isn’t. Restructuring thinking around this concept is necessary, as what Facebook and other platforms are looking towards now is engaging content. But how can we measure organic interactions that translate into sales? The social media giants seem to think that the key is video content - and they would be correct.

In that vein, brands that have their, well, branding down pat are the ones making waves in the video marketing niche. If someone started a conversation with you discussing Amazon Prime, you would likely either think of a.) 2-day free shipping or b.) Prime Video. It’s probably more likely that you would think of the former, but second place ain’t last place. And Prime Video is another “free” service you get with your monthly or annual Prime subscription, allowing you, the Primer user, to watch TV shows and movies as they become available - often times, before other platforms, like Hulu or Netflix, release them.

Statistically speaking, utilizing video is something brands can’t afford not to do: Zembula reported in 2017 that videos in emails lead to 200 - 300% click-through rates and including video on a landing page increases its traffic by up to 80%. Those are some impressive numbers to read, and music to video marketing companies’ ears. If content is king, then video is queen - it holds all the power. It’s up to brands to decide how to best wield it.

Impact of Digital on the Future of Retail

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Author: Anna Jones

Why Do Consumers Make the Purchases That They Do?

Shopping today is clearly not the same as it was 20 years ago. Now, we can order groceries, electronics, clothing, home improvement items - and so much more - conveniently from the computer in our pockets. We can compare products, “buy it now,” easily search and find items, and read reviews, all on one device, without having to travel anywhere. The convenience of online shopping has made it so that consumers across the globe not only prefer to shop online, but they have come to expect a “seamless omnichannel experience.”

Now the question is, what does it mean to be seamless?
Since omnichannel experience combines the digital and physical world, an example would be if a retail store has an in-store app experience in which customers can play a brand-related game on their mobile devices, then that would be a part of an omnichannel experience. If the consumer could win prizes, like coupons for brand items, even better - that is a fun solution that enhances the customer’s overall brand experience.

Likewise, the convenience that online shopping provides is a fast-delivery solution for many consumers, meaning they don’t have to be concerned with waiting in long checkout lines, finding products to compare, or locating an employee to help them with their purchase. These are some of the greatest concerns of today’s consumer, and online shopping manages to solve most, if not all, of those problems. Reviews by first-person buyer accounts are often favored over an in-store experience, in which a potential buyer has to find an employee to talk to about the product that they are purchasing. According to the Pew Research Center, “half of adults under 50 routinely check online reviews before buying new items,” and 96% of Americans shop online, according to CPC Strategy. However, despite all of the above data and the convenience of online shopping, most consumers still prefer to do their shopping in-store versus online.

What can we take away from this knowledge? That while online shopping is convenient, what truly matters is having a full buying experience - and price. According to TechCrunch and Pew Research from 2016, the cost of a product is the main reason why consumers buy online versus in-store, but more than that, the ability to easily compare costs is key. This is why it is imperative that stores do offer the aforementioned omnichannel experience, as opposed to rejecting technology altogether. By enhancing the in-store experience and combining it with technology, brick-and-mortar stores have the capacity to grow perhaps beyond their wildest dreams. This, however, can be a delicate balance, if a store’s main competition is online pricing for a comparable product.

If stores can figure out the quick-delivery solution - whether it’s in-store pickup, merging the digital and the tangible, offering deals and specials, or all of the above - it’s imperative that today’s physical stores figure out how to live in harmony with online monoliths, before they are deemed a thing of the past.

 

 

 

...And Retail Will Never Be the Same

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Author: Anna Jones

Inflation is back in 2018, yet investors are still putting their money into retail – in particular, into big box stores like Target and Ulta. While those two corporations are millennial go-to's, those born in the late-80s-and-early-90s seemingly favor independent labels, small businesses, personalized, and charitable organizations, to name but a few checkboxes this generation seems to tick off when purchasing items.

Why do millennials seem less obsessed with status and more obsessed with sustainability? Your rebuttal may be, “Who cares?” but if you are involved in the retail industry in any capacity, you should care – millennials and Gen Z are pushing baby boomers out to become the largest consumer group. And these young adults care about giving their money to progressive – or what they view as progressive – companies. Ecommerce companies are popular amongst this crowd, as are sustainable brands with ethical practices. Millennials feel like they can ethically consume these brands and therefore, spend their money online and at their brick-and-mortar stores without guilt or fear that their dollars are going to sweatshops or to companies that pay their workers unfair wages and allow them to work in dismal conditions.

The aforementioned types of brands base their success on affordability, transparency on business ethics, and accessibility. Ecommerce brands that are geared towards millennials generally have an overwhelming amount of choices, have the convenience of being able to order online (either via mobile or desktop), and have price points that work for millennials who may work multiple jobs, yet have a large amount of student loans to pay off! This makes it all-the-more-desirable for millennials to spend their hard-earned money with these retailers.

Warby Parker is a wonderful example of a beloved company within our 18 – 34 demographic that practices all of the above in terms of being a cool company that is open about their social ethics. The company is vetted by labor watchdog Verité, and partners with nonprofits to distribute their eyewear to those in need, and allows consumers the convenience of being able to try on five pairs of eyeglasses at home for up to five days – it’s a model of business that, quite frankly, simply hasn’t been done before in this industry.

In addition to price point, social responsibility, a plethora of options, and convenience, these brands are well-versed in how to market themselves to this demographic. Their teams are on top of current events and trends, and know how to market them on social media and in print and digital advertising. Companies would be wise to take a page from their branding playbooks for their future marketing and recruiting efforts.

 

 

Photo: Interview Magazine

The Present and Future of Retail: A Culture of Consumer Centricity

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Author: Cammy Pedroja, PhD

Gone are the days when an entrepreneur could simply rent a storefront on main street, set up shop, slap on an attractive store sign, and wait for the customers to wander in. Recently, we at Find the Fit wrote about the fashion industry’s need to stay at the forefront of digital technology in order to produce the kind of personalized or customizable product that today’s retail customers are demanding in the rapidly changing marketplace. Now, we want to talk about the kind of forward-thinking selling and marketing strategies that will keep a modern fashion retailer from getting left behind.

Why the Customer’s Shopping Habits are Always Right

It used to be that customers would engage with your business by making an effort to come to you. That could mean a visit to your brick and mortar store, snail-mailing an order form, or calling you up to place an order over phone. Today (and increasingly into the future) fashion retailers need to meet the customer wherever they are by expanding their strategies to cover multiple shopping channels. From traditional physical and digital stores, to mass market and niche e-commerce sites, to social media platforms, fashion retailers that learn and adapt to their customers’ habits and lifestyles will be the winners of the industry’s near future. According to a recent article published in the Harvard Business Review, this kind of omnichannel strategy is proving to be not only effective, but practically essential for keeping a “competitive edge” in a world where in-person shopping continues to decline, and online retailers have more and more competition.

Consumer Centricity in Practice

A 2017 study of North American retailers revealed that only 22% considered developing an omnichannel strategy as a highest order concern. However, as more and more research comes out saying that omnichannel customers (shoppers who engage with a brand over multiple platforms) come with higher brand loyalty, as well as increased lifetime value, this statistic is likely to change for businesses with staying power. So how should a fashion retailer go about designing and implementing this kind of selling model?

Note these 3 Traits of Successful Omnichannel Strategies in Retail Fashion
(Adapted from The Robin Report)

  1. In-depth data collecting and analysis of the customer’s habits, with an emphasis on predicting their buying needs/trends.
  2. Creating company positions directly related to tracking, interpreting, and improving consumer success, as well as recruiting employees with an understanding of consumer centricity.
  3. A careful and data-based social-engagement strategy that builds brand loyalty and provides tons of raw data for consumer analysis.

So, how does your business strategy stack up? What changes will you make to keep up with quickly-evolving retail channels?

 

Photo: BizTech

April Mercí

Last month I shared my musings on making the shift from a product centric focus to a larger strategic, mentorship and team management role within design functions specifically. Pros, cons, frustrations and rewards. Thank you for your thoughtful answers, comments and perspective around transitioning into a design leadership role. Still wanna weigh in? The video below awaits your participation…

3D Printing in Fashion: A “Revolution” of Opportunities and Obstacles

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Author: Cammy Pedroja, PhD

From plastic trinkets, to life-saving medical devices, to entire modular houses, the power of 3D printing has been making headlines for years as an impressive tool in manufacturing. But is this rapidly developing technology on its way to triggering the next industrial revolution, as heavy hitters like Pascal Morand have intimated? For those in the fashion and accessories business, the implications are striking, but the timeline remains unclear.

The Question of Mass Production

In the past, 3D printing has been useful mainly for prototyping or very small-scale production, because of the limits of the technology. However, with impressive gains in mastering the science behind the method, 3D printing is beginning to be a viable option for mass production, which is likely to be a game-changer in the fashion industry, as well as countless others.

For instance, earlier this year, Adidas released its first sneaker mass-produced through 3D printing to much pomp and circumstance and plenty of customers trying to get their hands on a pair for a high price. Still, Adidas is an outlier in this manufacturing trend, as for many manufacturers, the traditional plastic mold model is still more cost-effective than 3D printing. But this is, of course, a temporary limiter, as the technology becomes cheaper and cheaper.

What About Material Comfort?

Sure, as the technology becomes more refined, more available, and less expensive, 3D printing could solve myriad supply chain issues, streamline the designing process, eliminate sizing and fit issues, and make tailoring and customization a snap, which will certainly benefit consumers. But we all must be wondering: what about the characteristics of the materials? If you’re involved in the garment world, you know that types of fabrics and textiles used are at the core of customer opinions and cost decisions. And for in most people’s minds, 3D printing is associated with hard plastic products.
 

While being restricted to hard or non-flexible materials is no problem for fashion spaces like eyewear, jewelry and timepieces, where 3D printing is already being implemented with success, recent strides in the technology have introduced more flexible materials like lace and rubber-like mesh cloth onto the scene. So, while up to now the most prominent effects from 3D printing in the fashion business may have been cropping up in the accessory arena, or in the sometimes avant-garde or architectural elements of haute-couture, soon, we can expect greater availability of more appealing and wearable textiles to revolutionize all areas of the garment industry.

 

 

Photo: Livingly

Do Digital Brands Need Physical Stores?

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Author: Anna Jones

The landscape of ecommerce is an ever-changing one. We are living in the digital age, in which 79% of Americans now shop online, according to a 2016 TechCrunch report. It would make sense for brands to focus their primary marketing efforts on user interface (UI); however, popular digital brands are now going against the grain and opening brick-and-mortar stores. Why the sudden shift? It makes sense, if you think about it – just like music records and those braided 90s chokers from Claire’s have come back into style, so too has having a user experience (UX) that is a part of a true 360-degree marketing plan.


Despite how convenient online shopping is, customers still like to experience products for themselves in-real-life – especially before making an important, expensive purchasing decision. Plus, there are in-store experiences that online retailers simply cannot replicate; for example, at Modcloth’s Austin-based store, customers can get measured by “ModStylists;” Modcloth has intelligently integrated the user experience, by allowing consumers to enter their measurements that they receive in-store into the company’s “Fit For Me” app. It makes buying Modcloth’s clothes online easy and stress-free, if the customer can’t make it into the store. The convenience of online shopping is made more convenient by having a store to go into as another option. The digital and the physical marry one another to complement rather than compete.


Bonobos CFO Antonio Nieves thinks of his stores as “permanent billboards” or “Guideshops,” that are better at driving brand awareness – more so than even online advertising, citing higher conversion rates and increased average purchase values, as opposed to online sales. Chief Executive of Rent the Runway, Jennifer Hyman, notes that all RtR needs is one store in every major metropolitan U.S. city – so, approximately 15 in total. Hyman does state, however, “There is no way that the sheer quantity of physical stores that exist today — multi-branded retail and single brand retail — is going to exist five years from now, let alone 15 years from now. It’s not needed.”


Another important point is that these brands’ inventory is tied directly to online inventory, i.e., all inventory is housed in one off-site location. There is no need to house inventory on-site, eliminating “one of the most difficult parts of inventory management,” according to Nieves.


These brands are intelligent – they have their finger on the digital pulse of what tech-savvy, younger generations within their demographics love. Their branded marketing campaigns for their brick-and-mortar stores include cross-promotions, influencer marketing, events, and strategized content. Even if the stores do eventually close, they will certainly not go quietly into the night.


This brings us back to the question we started with, and adds on a follow-up: should online brands invest in physical stores, if the trend is that more and more stores will be closing in such a relatively short period of time? The answer seems to be, if you have capacity and growth potential – why not? As long as brands recognize what their ceiling is, physical stores seem to be marketing campaigns that may ultimately pay for themselves – what more could a retailer ask for?

 

 

Anything to make that online business run.

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Technology, ecommerce and all things digital. Anything to make that online business run. We’ve launched a new series focusing on three key themes that surround our industry network and the clients we serve. The future of retail, technology we (can) leverage and the impact on talent acquisition. 

Retail & Consumers

  • Why do consumers make the purchases they do?
  • How do we understand consumer expectations?
  • The new challenges with digital advertising and digital customer engagement.

Technology 

  • What are the implications of 3D printing?
  • Understanding AI and what does it mean?
  • Virtual changing rooms the solution to online returns?
  • What’s the best way to use videos in digital marketing?

Talent Perspective 

  • What is the role of digital executives and what challenges do they face today and in the future?
  • Technology decisions in leadership. The need for an overall understanding of opportunities that impact decisions across the entire business. Can we solve the internal feuding of retail and ecommerce teams?
  • The search for talent; experienced and can hit the ground running. How to find and attract digital and ecommerce talent.

We certainly don’t claim to have all the answers. Curiosity often seeks discussion and a range of view points. We hope you’ll join the conversation. 

Footwear Cares

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Consider volunteering this month for Footwear Cares.

Since 2013, Two Ten Footwear Foundation has engaged more than 15,000 shoe people from footwear companies across the country to help disadvantaged children and their families in the communities where we live and work. With 1 in 5 children in the U.S. currently living in poverty and food insecure, our collective work to impact this vulnerable population is needed more than ever.

The vision for Footwear Cares® is to actively engage our entire workforce, as an inspiring and widely-recognized national model of industry-wide philanthropy and corporate social responsibility unlike any other in America.

The goal is to help build a stronger and deeper culture of volunteerism and commitment to community service, that excites and engages your organization and improves the lives of disadvantaged children and their families.

Our industry’s call to action is Footwear Cares®.

Find your local volunteer event details here

 

Ask Lucy - How Can I Be Found by Recruiters?

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Question

I would like to know which platform is best for designers to showcase their work. One where recruiters can see their skills. What do recruiters want to see in a designer and what’s the best way to present a good portfolio?

-anonymous by request

Answer

I think there’s a common belief amongst the design community that the answer to being “found” is in the design portfolio. I’m here to tell you that this is not the case. Perhaps that’s not the popular answer and maybe I’ll receive some boo hiss for saying so. I can’t speak for all recruiters, but I personally do not surf portfolio platforms in search of talent. Why?

When searching for design talent, we’re doing so on behalf of a client for a specific position and needs depending on their product and strategic goals. Typically, clients are looking for a specific type of background i.e. product category and market segment. For example, a lifestyle footwear brand might desire other lifestyle footwear brand designers. It’s not always as simple as that; often times a search will expand to adjacent industries (industrial design, etc.) and market segments (performance, outdoor). The point I’m trying to make here is that a search typically begins with the desired background and experience. This may sound frustrating, unfair or just plain wrong. There’s a myriad of reasons as to the “why” behind this that I won’t delve into as it’s a fairly deep rabbit hole and can be silenced for the sake of your question.

Back to the question before us. Design portfolios are still important. They should be well organized, showcasing recent and or relevant work for the type of role you are seeking. They should not be a lifetime catalog of everything you’ve ever done in chronological order. It’s too overwhelming and a good recruiter who knows quality design work coupled with knowing their client should be able to spot it immediately. Less is more. If an employer requests to see more of your work or something specific you can always send more. Keep your portfolio concise and focused. Keep it simple and try not to overthink it. It’s easy when you’re detail oriented and a perfectionist by nature to want to “hide the whole portfolio until it’s absolutely perfect”. Sound familiar? There’s no such thing as perfect. Design is subjective. What’s ideal for one brand may be discarded by another.

I promise we’re close to landing the plane here…. Which platform is best? The one that’s easiest for you to maintain. As long as it provides a link that can be easily accessed by those you share it with, it’s perfectly acceptable. Most recruiters and employers use LinkedIn when searching for talent. If you want to be “found” I’d make sure your profile is up to date AND you have a link to your design portfolio clearly listed.

-Ask Lucy

 

 

Artificial Intelligence in Online Shopping

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Author: Maggie Walsh

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making its way into the lives and homes of modern consumers. And for good reason - the personalization that comes with increased data collection pays off for the retailer and the customer. Just look at the Echo’s effect on Amazon for proof. 20 million Amazon Echoes were sold in 2017. Echo owners spend 50% of their total online dollars on Amazon after purchasing an Echo, and increase their Amazon spending by 10% after purchasing an Echo (source: NPD Group Study). It’s a win/win. The customer gets a better experience, and the retailer gets loyalty and more comprehensive customer information.

AI is a fix for inherent online shopping issues in categories that require a more personalized fit - such as makeup or jeans. AI can be the difference between an abandoned cart and a click to purchase that the customer needs to get off the fence. Rugsusa.com has a feature where the customer can upload a photo of the room they are buying the rug for, and can test out any number of rugs in the space via photo. This feature can create confidence for an online shopper who feels uneasy making such a purchase without seeing the item first.

Everyone talks about Amazon, and how they are changing the retail landscape, consumer buying patterns, and their effect on brick-and-mortar. But because of these challenges, the winners in this economy are the brands/websites/retailers that differentiate themselves and provide customers with a personal experience in some way. This explains the success of subscription services. You can go into a subscription service and input your preferences and taste, and you will be provided a curated set of items sent to you. Some of this work is being done by actual stylists, but companies are becoming more tech savvy and creating algorithms to generate products based on your data. Something as simple as being able to choose from a range of colors or patterns make the buyer feel like they have a voice.

As technology continues to advance, so do the customer’s expectations. We expect ship times to be shorter, and for the things we buy online to work just as well as the items we buy in person. Try-before-you-buy has been a profitable business model for companies like Third Love, or Warby Parker, who sends each customer multiple options to try on at home before deciding which they want to keep. All of these examples point to a more confident and personalized experience for the customer. The biggest hesitancy in online shopping is the dread of receiving an item that doesn’t work for a litany of reasons. AI can help bridge that gap between online and in-person.

There was a time where people thought the internet was a fad, and wouldn’t compromise the newspaper, or music industries. The companies who adapt with the times and technology are the ones that will succeed. What is now a special feature, will be expected in the future – which is what will become of AI technology and the online shopping experience, in my opinion. I, for one, can’t wait until AI advances enough that I can skip the dreaded swimsuit try-on experience and buy one online that fits me perfectly.