Written by Kelly Stickel
Moximorés are amazing and innovative mobile retail leaders who are creating pathways for expanding new digital revenue channels using mobility both in store and on-the-go. They are forward thinking and have a focus on trends in loyalty, marketing, merchandising, advertising, payment, technology, and understanding the new behaviors of our quickly evolving consumer with mobility.
On April 18, 2012, we will be collaborating and learning from other Moximorés at our 3rd Bricks and Mobile event. It will be in Chicago at Venue610 from 1-5pm, with a book signing and reception to follow, We will bring the retail mobile leadership ecosystem together, once again, to learn how to work in tandem “coopertition” to understand the mobile opportunities that engage the in store and on-the-go shopper. The retail ecosystem is looking to understand mobile marketing tactics, loyalty programs, mobile commerce, payment, engaging the shopper and the evolving user experiences.
We are delighted to announce that Alexis Maybank, Chief Marketing Officer, and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Chief Merchandising Officer, of Gilt Groupe, will be joining us on the 18th. In my recent interview with with these amazing Moximorés, we talked about the evolution of retail mobility and what led them to collaborate on their upcoming book, By Invitation Only, that will be available April 12, 2012.
Gilt Groupe is a US based shopping website with iPad and mobile apps that offer its member luxury merchandise: clothing, home décor, food, social activities, and travel. Since 2007, this luxury online retailer has grown from zero to nine hundred employees, 3.5 million members, and a half a billion dollars in revenue. Alexis and Alexandra, along with Kevin Ryan, co-founder of Doubleclick have built this fast moving company. These savvy retailers are ahead of the curve, and they are already thinking about who will be their next subscribers in 2012.
Typical sales start at noon and go for 3-4 days. The sales feature merchandise from a few select luxury brands, such as Burberry, DVF, Alexander McQueen, Cynthia Rowley, Ash, M.C.L., Dolce Vida, and the prices are 50-70% off of the normal suggested retail pricing. Each member gets a daily email that announces the sales and purchasing is on a first come first serve basis. They have 3 warehouses in the US that ship directly to their members.
Looking back to March of 2009, the Gilt Groupe women launched their first mobile app in Japan and the US version quickly followed in September of 2009. When I asked Alexis how they calculated the risk of going to the mobile commerce channel as an early adopter, she easily replied, “The revenue stream was always viewed as valuable. One-third of our sales come from the mobile and iPad shoppers”.
I also asked Alexis about the user experience with mobile, “Our consumer with mobility expects a quick and seamless experience. You only get one chance to bring in your subscriber”. This confirmed our conversation with the CIO of Opinion Labs at the Bricks and Mobile event this past October. Rick Blair noted, “Your online customer took a 10 year ride with you to figure out retail and eCommerce, but your mobile consumer wants full functionality and they want it now!”
“We understand that the speed to download and ability to render quickly are the most important pieces of the retail mobile commerce experience”. Alexis continued, “High quality digital production is also very important. The shopper is now pinching and expanding the screen to see the details of the stitching. With this shopper, there is not much room for poor quality experiences”.
While brick and mortar retailers worry about the effect of the emerging online and mobile merchants, there will always be a need for an in store experience. Alexis reminded us that in order to sell to the shopper, you have to create an amazing customer experience that allows the personal interaction that lead to a sale. The retailers need to have the best in store tools with a rich and exciting experience to keep their shopper from using an outside application.
With shipping now available to over 90 countries, Gilt Groupe has a strong focus on engaging new subscribers while inspiring the current members with amazing luxury merchandise. Last week I purchased some Qi Cashmere Niobe Zipper Gloves for $30 originally $140 and then I bought a BCBGMAXAZRIA heather grey fringed poncho for $125 originally $275. Both arrived to my door quickly and were wrapped and packed with care. It was a very convenient and pleasant consumer experience.
In talking about goals for 2012, Alexis noted, “This year is about building our brands internationally and unlocking borders that will allow us to gain global subscribers. Consumers in third world countries are using mobile as their first form of communication, they will be competitive in their markets galvanizing the middle class”. This equalizes the global playing field. To top it off, these emerging markets are cash based businesses. The best and brightest of the emerging markets now have the opportunity to learn and consider a new future.
One of the common denominators for writing the book, By Invitation Only, Alexandra noted, “Whether a stay at home mom, a CEO, a start up company, a retail marketer or a technical expert, everyone was asking the same questions. How did you raise capital? How are you going to scale this? What were the motivating factors to start the company? What is happening with luxury retail? What is the impact of mobile and net books? Where are you heading in 2012?” The interest was only increasing, so it made sense to share their amazing story.
These women have offered insightful action items that would help any retailer evolve with mobility. We are excited by their ease to collaborate and share with retailers who are working to understand mobility. It is valued by our community. Alexis and Alexandra’s passion started with the NY sample sales and a dream to build something together. I asked Alexandra what advice she would give young entrepreneurs looking to bring their idea to life, “If you have a great idea, pursue it, there is plenty of capital out there for a good idea. The next wave of economic growth will come from these ideas. We love it because it is challenging and we get to shape and define how we will create mega businesses that have a strong global reach”.
Creating an optimal user experience that appeals to each of these different shoppers is a must have for any retailer. Ultimately, the companies who work to understand the behaviors of their in store, online, mobile and net book shoppers will be able to streamline their services and create experiences that build and grow the new revenue streams using mobility.
Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Gilt Groupe
Alexis has dedicated her career to building and launching innovative and compelling ecommerce experiences for consumers. In 2007, Alexis, along with a founding team, launched Gilt Groupe. She served as Gilt’s Founding CEO, and today she serves as the company’s Chief Marketing Officer.
Prior to founding Gilt Groupe, Alexis served as General Manager and Business Development Director for AOL’s ecommerce businesses. In 1998, she became an early member of the eBay team, where she helped launch the company’s first strategic planning group working for Founder Jeff Skoll, and later launched and ran eBay Canada, which grew to become Canada’s largest ecommerce business. She later helped found eBay Motors, which grew to over $2.5 billion in gross sales in its first two years and continues to be the largest category of goods sold on eBay today.
Alexis holds a BS and MBA from Harvard University. She is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, a Director for Audubon Alaska, and actively involved in the Robinhood Foundation. She currently mentors many emerging entrepreneurs in both the technology and fashion sectors.
Alexandra Wilkis Wilson
Founder and Chief Merchandising Officer
With over twelve years of international experience in luxury goods and retail, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Founder and Chief Merchandising Officer of Gilt Groupe, is on the forefront of revolutionizing and innovating the landscape of luxury e-commerce. Prior to co-founding Gilt Groupe, Alexandra managed retail operations at Bulgari, overseeing 15 North American stores. Before working at Bulgari, Alexandra managed Leather Goods Sales Planning for Louis Vuitton North America. Alexandra began her career working for 3 years in investment banking at Merrill Lynch, spending her time between New York, London and Latin America. She subsequently entered the retail world working for retail guru Marvin Traub at Financo Inc. Alexandra holds a B.A. from Harvard College where she graduated Magna Cum Laude and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Alexandra speaks five languages. She is involved in a number of not for profits including: Dress for Success, Endeavor Global, Robin Hood Foundation, the New York Junior League and El Museo del Barrio. She is also an active fundraiser for her alma maters The Brearley School, Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard University. Alexandra is an official mentor for Tech Stars and an unofficial mentor for many budding entrepreneurs.
Founder of Remodista, Executive Director of Retail Mobile Education and Director of Vendor Relations, Acquity Group
Kelly has 13 years of experience building teams that execute digital agency and consulting projects. For more than 5 years, she has managed Acquity Group’s service vendors globally across all digital channels while researching new and emerging technology.
Kelly has also successfully organized mobile-related educational events including the first Start Up Showcase for Mobile Monday – Chicago in 2009, the first Mobile University event for the Heartland Mobile Council in 2010. Kelly founded Remodista in 2010, and executed the first 2 Bricks and Mobile events in March and October of 2011.
For the past 15 years, Kelly has taught mosaic art classes to students of all ages. Kelly has a B.A in Political Science from the University of Missouri. She is an Associate Board Member for Gilda’s Club – Chicago, a non-profit cancer treatment center for families. She is focused on Marketing and PR for their fundraising events. Kelly also mentors young women, helping them build and define their own digital brands in business.