Yoox Net-a-Porter Group Online Flagship Stores president Paolo Mascio, who is also a judge at the 2017 Drapers Digital Awards in April, shares his plans for the future of the etailer and describes what he’s looking for in winning entries.
What is the top focus on the YNAP digital agenda for 2017?
The Online Flagship Stores (OFS) division of Yoox Net-a-Porter Group (YNAP) is unique within our business and the industry as a whole. We run the digital presence for more than 40 luxury brands from click to delivery, looking after everything from their website design, warehousing and packaging to service and fulfilment. This allows the luxury brands to focus on what they do best – create amazing experiences for customers and fans alike, not only in the physical world, but also across their digital properties.
To keep delivering unparalleled digital experiences for our brand partners’ customers, we have to focus on the key challenges facing the industry. According to [business intelligence firm] L2’s recent report on Luxury Personalisation, mobile now accounts for more than half of all time spent on digital, and more than 60% of time spent shopping online. This has led to an increase in consumers’ expectation for a personalised mobile experience. You cannot ignore the ongoing mobile revolution if you work in luxury retail.
Our main focus for 2017 will be to elevate the mobile experience OFS provides customers and brands, and to keep an eye out for continuous improvements to our mobile applications, an increased focus on boosting conversions through UX enhancements and social and mobile advertising.
How are you planning to make customers more engaged this year?
Our focus on mobile will play a key part in keeping customers engaged. Nothing enables personalisation quite like a personal computer that is with you every second of the day.
Adopting a customer-centric approach both online and offline is an undeniable part of the OFS experience and remains a key engagement tool. We offer more localised services than ever, such as local currencies and languages, and will continue to build this offer in the coming months and years.
Being truly data-driven enables us to provide a personalised customer journey, keeping our shoppers engaged. We are developing our CRM to strengthen the dialogue we have with customers based on their preferences and purchase history. We have a huge amount of data and the focus is on transforming it into smart data that our brand partners can action.
Finally, providing impeccable service that never disappoints is a key aspect when it comes to building loyalty and encouraging our customers to shop with us. Our “tailor-made” customer service offering plays a key part in delivering a personalised experience. We ensure customers get the physical luxury experience they want through swift delivery and beautiful packaging, which in many instances is customised just for them.
What are some new personalisation ideas or new technologies that you will look to trial?
The biggest opportunities for personalisation come from the rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI). We have partnered with IBM, which created Watson, a powerful AI engine, and we are running hackathons and experimenting together to bring customers the next wave of great retail experiences. Imagine being able to offer every customer a personal shopper or only marketing to when it is relevant and they are most engaged – the possibilities are endless.
Beyond that, our research and developement team has also been working on a number of different mobile retail experiences, including improving targeting through AI, and we hope to be able to offer customers entirely new ways of shopping from mobile devices in the near future.
What do you think about social media platforms such as Snapchat for customer engagement and shopping?
Social media has totally changed the way that brands think about retail. Initially it was difficult to measure the impact it had on sales, but large companies such as Facebook have built their capabilities and it is now possible to attribute sales to engagement on social.
Few sectors have been as impacted by social media as the luxury fashion industry. New platforms such as Instagram and YouTube turned the industry on its head – suddenly, brands could engage everyone in their storytelling, from inspiration and production, to runway and stores.
We have always been drawn to the numerous possibilities that social media presents. Our belief in social media as a platform for connecting with customers in a meaningful way led to our early adoption of most solutions. A key part of our social media strategy lies in the building and maintaining of meaningful relationships with technology companies such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. The constant conversation we have with the social media giants is a key differentiator for our OFS, who trust us to be at the cutting-edge of innovation and deliver the latest technology both online and offline. For example, Net-a-Porter was one of the first brands to have shoppable posts on Instagram in the US and we look forward to giving our customers and brand partners more firsts in the future.
What do you think will be the next big thing digitally that retailers should be focusing on and investing in?
Interestingly, the next big thing that retailers need to focus on is the convergence of their digital and physical offer to create a seamless omnichannel experience for customers. Giving customers the ability to fulfil their orders in any which way, whether it’s ordering online and picking up in store, delivering separate items to a number of locations, and most importantly having complete view of stock around the world, is what customers want today.
In partnership with IBM, we are building a powerful new platform made for the luxury industry, for both physical and digital retail. We have just made our first major deployment for the off-season business. We have launched our new order management system, which allows us to perfectly orchestrate inventories – whether they come from stores or distribution centres – and connect them with orders to enable a seamless customer experience. This will ultimately improve the shopping experience with more delivery options, such as same-day or split delivery, available across the world.
Ultimately, at YNAP our objective is to deliver a best-in-class luxury retail experience that exceeds expectations at every step in the buying journey across any device or channel. This is, and will continue to be, our focus in the future because it is vital in ensuring customer loyalty.
What key aspects will you be looking for in the entries at the Drapers Digital Festival?
I will be looking for emphasis on innovation, audacity, collaboration within their business or industry, and truly pioneering or disruptive behaviour – something that is going to change the way customers and brands interact.
For more information or to get tickets for the Drapers Digital Festival in April,