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Month: April, 2012

“The last few years have been interesting times for online retailing in Australia. Just as there have been claims that there are rivers of gold to be made online, there have also been claims that there is no money to be made in this manner and that anyone who thinks differently is throwing money away.

There have been some interesting launches in the online retail space and certainly there is a lot of talk that major bricks and mortar retailers are on the verge of  entering the multi-channel world. Big W went live in May, The Good Guys also went online with a ‘pick up in store’ offer just last month and more are set to follow as we head into the Christmas season.

While this has been happening here in Australia, in the USA and the UK we are seeing the likes of Best Buy, Tescos, Walmart and many others reporting significant revenue through their online channel.

At a financial level there are two parts to the equation that need evaluating. These are the top line revenue that can be made and the costs associated in realising that revenue. The costs element varies significantly from business to business but can be established with a reasonable level of accuracy. The issue for online retail has been quantifying the top line opportunity. With very little local Australian data to reference, there has always been a question as to whether Australian consumers are in some way different to their overseas counterparts and the impact any differences might have on revenue.

That was until very recently.

Now two reports have given us some insight to the market that we haven’t seen before and the results may surprise you.

The first report was a presentation made by Patti Freeman Evans (VP, Research Director for Forrester) at Online Retailer in July. Freeman Evans reported that Australians are on average more likely to purchase online than Americans, and only slightly less than the British. And that isn’t all. Conversion rates in Australia are higher than the US, cart abandonment is lower and the average basket is higher.

I have to say that when I first saw this information it didn’t feel right. My experience when moving to Australia from the UK nearly 4 years ago was that I couldn’t get anything like the range of products I was used to purchasing online and that those I could get didn’t offer the savings I was used to seeing via the online channel. And I don’t feel things have shifted very far in the last 4 years. So where are these people spending all their money?

Until I read a report from Frost & Sullivan, I was concerned that Freeman Evans could have got things wrong. The Frost & Sullivan report – simply titled ‘Australian eCommerce Market 2010’ – made an interesting discovery: 40% of all online expenditure by Australians happens on overseas sites. In my view, the reason for this is that Australian retailers aren’t meeting the needs of Australian consumers. In their press release, Frost & Sullivan were more direct: “A key reason for the lag in local activity is the lack of online presence by many of the large retail chains and department stores.”

So, customers are exhibiting mature online purchasing behaviour (so mature that they are sourcing products internationally in large volumes), it is just that the local retailers aren’t servicing them.

Several estimates place the current Australian domestic online market at around $12 billion a year. That means that Australian consumers are spending approximately $20 billion a year online. The amount spent domestically online is increasing every year and is predicted to rise to  around $18 billion in 2014 (according to the Frost & Sullivan report). Compare that to June retail sales that saw a year on year fall of 0.7% and while it may not be rivers of gold, it would suggest to me a significant opportunity for a retailer to drive top line growth.

However, in a market where online revenue is increasing when the total market is relatively stagnant, the issue of channel cannibalisation rears its ugly head. For my thoughts on that you will have to read my next blog article. But for now, suffice to say the revenue opportunity for the online channel is certainly a very real one.

Of course top line growth does not necessarily equate to profit. Introducing an eCommerce channel into a retail business is much more than ‘opening up another store, just online’; it is truly business transformational. In a presentation at Online Retailer, Russell Harte, Head of Business Development & Delivery for boots.com, talked about how they are only just getting the Boots online model right after 10 years of multi-channel retailing. Learn from these companies and invest smartly. Leverage the global understanding that has been developed in this space to avoid the costly mistakes others have made. Because heading down the right path now could well lead to those rivers of gold, while going down the wrong one could be a costly exercise.”


High street hits back


April 14, 2011

Vintage appeal... Clare Press in her Oxford Street boutique.Vintage appeal… Clare Press in her Oxford Street boutique. Photo: Tamara Dean

Traditional stores are turning to new tactics in a bid to compete with the online fashion phenomenon, writes Natasha Silva-Jelly.

Blame it on the global financial crisis, the rise of the mega-mall, the online shopping revolution or our sky-high dollar but the boutique retail sector is suffering. Clothing and footwear sales declined 4.8 per cent in the year to December and a stroll down any of Sydney’s once-burgeoning shopping precincts will reveal a stream of sale signs and, worse, empty stores.

In the latest twist, retailers have resorted to charging try-on fees in store, which are refunded upon purchase, to stop consumers heading online to search for the same item at a lower price.

Besieged by the new world of e-commerce, it is no longer enough for traditional bricks-and-mortar stores to fill their racks and then wait for the customers to roll in.

Robby Ingham's store in Paddington.Robby Ingham’s store in Paddington. Photo: Tamara Dean

”E-commerce is growing at an exponential rate,” says Katherine Milesi, a partner at Deloitte’s Online Practice, which delivers and implements digital strategies for a number of fashion retailers. Speaking at an e-tail seminar in Melbourne last month, Milesi described the internet shopping boom as ”the black swan Australia did not see coming”.

But she believes high-street retailers can coexist happily with the new digital platform. The key to success, Milesi says, is to ensure they differentiate what they provide and the way they provide it.

”Our advice is to create a multi-channel offering where the store, internet and social networking go hand in hand,” she says.

Belinda Seper hosts special events to draw shoppers.Belinda Seper hosts special events to draw shoppers. Photo: Tamara Dean

”Retailers could encourage customers to go online to browse and then insist they pick up in-store. Or provide an online kiosk inside the store where shoppers can view extended ranges that they can only order online.”

Forced to employ such strategies, niche boutiques and single-brand retailers are becoming increasingly creative about ways to lure consumers away from the keyboard.

”I love having a store because I have an old-fashioned sensibility,” says Sydney designer Clare Press, who opened her Mrs. Press vintage-inspired store on Paddington’s Oxford Street nine months ago. ”I love the traditional shopping experience, a delicious environment, boutique rather than mass, special treatment and a sensory hit that you can’t get online. But as a designer with one store, we have become a destination so you have to work hard as customers are no longer going to walk past and buy a dress on a whim.”

When customers do enter, the fact Press’s work studio is above her store means she is on hand to offer personalised service. She has also created an inviting sensory environment: the boutique smells of magnolia candles and is kitted out like a 1920s boudoir, complete with a black spiral staircase and a gold-velvet theatre chair, and is brimming with vintage treasures collected over the past decade.

”Our clients describe the store as being very European and the decor is all part of the experience,” Press says.

So are the regular salon shows (the most recent to launch the latest racing collection by milliner Suzy O’Rourke), champagne and macaroon shopping nights for VIPs, trend talks by fashion media and a style blog written by Press, a former features director for Vogue Australia.

Also sharpening up their service and rethinking their offering are our well-known luxury fashion retailers, which now find themselves pitted against hugely popular online sites net-a-porter.com and shopbop.com.

”We haven’t changed our philosophy, we don’t sell online, but we have changed the way we market to clients,” says Sydney retail veteran Robby Ingham. ”We have a blog, we email and now we text [customers] the same day new stock arrives.”

Ingham’s high-end Paddington boutique is home to labels such as Stella McCartney, Alexander Wang and Givenchy and has been a Sydney shopping hot spot for 28 years.

”Service has always been at the heart of our business,” he says. ”Going in-store allows you to feel the garment, see the proper colour and fit and bring it back if something goes wrong. We can also do alterations and offer advice on how to maintain pieces.”

Trawling the globe to unearth new and unique labels that suit the Sydney market and regularly changing the mix to keep the offering interesting is core to the sales strategy, as is extensive refurbishment of the store last year to ”refresh the brand and remind customers we’re here”.

”We also have designer meet-and-greets and give our VIPs early notice when a new collection arrives and offer pre-selling,” Ingham says. ”The internet is not going away and as long as international sites are not taxed like an Australian business, they will always have a 20 per cent advantage.”

But the web is ”also a fantastic medium to find out about new labels and keep up with the latest fashion blogs, so you have to go with it”.

The chain of Belinda and The Corner Shop boutiques owned by Belinda Seper in Sydney and Melbourne will soon enter the online shopping space.

But for now the focus remains on enticing customers into the stores via film and fashion nights, photography exhibitions, personal stylists on hand and at-home wardrobe overhaul sessions, should you require the store to come to you.

Seper also employs one-off initiatives such as a tea salon that has been set up at The Corner Shop boutique in Paddington this month, along with VIP launches to showcase new designers, most recently Britain’s Erdem and Christopher Kane.

On the more affordable high street, Sportsgirl is one of the best examples of a retailer that is embracing e-commerce but also updating its bricks-and-mortar stores. Sportsgirl offers a buzzing in-store environment, trendy staff, a dizzying array of well-merchandised racks and a specialised vintage section. It also has services including ”chill out” rooms and ”style me” studios where shoppers can indulge in a one-on-one styling session that is difficult to replicate in cyberspace.

But the long-established chain store has certainly given it a try: the Sportsgirl website features global style reports, a section to learn about Sportsgirl events in your area, regular competitions and blogs and even Sportsgirl TV.

Together, the stores and the website offer a whole-of-brand experience that constitutes an ideal meeting of in-store and online.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/high-street-hits-back-20110413-1de9o.html#ixzz1t8eZjSLN

Augmented Reality Applications

Fantastic Article – relates to how the digital world is ever evolving.

Retrieved from http://online.deloitte.com.au/our-thinking/blog_aug_reality.html

I had the privilege to think about not one but two types of augmented reality (AR) over the past few weeks. First, I considered the emerging field of AR mobile applications for a client; second, I witnessed another very real type of AR at the sharp end of the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart yacht race. As one of the toughest offshore yacht races in the world, where competitors get very little sleep, this environment is a vivid example of extreme, or augmented, reality.


Watching the Deloitte As One team come into Hobart’s carbon fiber- and Kevlar-riddled docks, I couldn’t help but admire the achievement of skipper Chris Lewin and crew: They not only finished competitively but also coached 18-year-old Jessica Watson’s crew on the Ella Bache so that the team finished in a better position (second) in the same yacht class. If you haven’t heard of Jessica yet, it’s only a matter of time — she is an up-and-coming yachtswoman, and she skippered Another Challenge, the youngest crew in history to complete the Sydney Hobart race. Likewise, if you haven’t heard of AR applications, you are sure to soon.

So while contemplating the very real challenges faced by Jessica and Chris, I mulled over the potential future of AR applications for one of my clients. This is a real area for innovation globally: How can businesses merge the real world and the environment on your phone screen? There are some good examples out there, such as in the gaming world, where the real world interacts with the game you are playing. Some AR applications relate to tourism and shopping, helping relay information and locations of those hard-to-find restaurants and points of interest to your iPhone. Perhaps most interestingly, firms like Lego have introduced in-store experiences where, by scanning a product at a kiosk, the buyer can see 3D images of the toy as it is built, much to the delight of kids and their parents.

So what is next for AR, and does it have a corporate application that can justify the investment and really “augment” the customer experience? There is little doubt that the power of mobile is growing — nearly 10 percent of all transactions of the US$820 million worth of shopping on Black Friday 2011 (the annual Christmas shopping frenzy in the United States) were completed via mobile devices, up from 3 percent in the previous year. Customers want to shop on their handheld devices, and they are doing so in large numbers — particularly in the Australian market, which is second only to Singapore when it comes to smartphone penetration and use.

Amazon is leading the way in mobile shopping — its strategy is no less well considered than Jessica’s race plan for the Sydney Hobart. Releasing its shopping app ‘Flow’ just before Christmas was a calculated move. Don’t be fooled into thinking Flow is just another bar-code–scanning app — more excitingly, it can recognise objects your iPhone’s camera is pointed at. If the product is on the Amazon store, then you can buy it. Amazon has the luxury of developing and customizing this kind of code, allowing it to cannibalise competitor sales. The need to be always at your desktop is ending, and mobile shopping is enabled in a much more interactive way than bar code scanners currently offer.

Translating the potential for a large telco is challenging, but a business case doesn’t take long to define: AR store location is an easy first step and bolsters a niche presence for early adopters in the space. Next, enhance the retail experience with AR so that customers can view products they come across while out shopping with their friends. All they need to do is ask their phone to recognise the device, and bundles and offers could appear on the phone — just imagine how a competitor’s phone would be fair game for an immediate comparison of value and data costs. The only limitation for a telco is that it may not have enough variety of products to offer, but if it believes in its brand proposition, placing such a powerful marketing tool in customers’ hands must be attractive.

Customer choice, immediacy and connectivity are all delivered by augmented reality — only time will tell whether it attracts investment.

Lagerfeld Confidential

Lagerfeld Confidential is the first public biography of Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s creative director.

In response to the question how is a fashion designer created as a celebrity I feel it is a complex area of factors that are all used to position themselves separate from the ordinary person.

Celebrities separating themselves I feel is primarily due to the lack of information that is made available to the public. A lack of information fuels interest and promotes the idea of a celebrity within the public. In the digital world currently information is easy to access. Information that is wanted but is hard to uncover automatically creates a sense on exclusivity.

Lagerfeld keeps information at bay and carefully chooses what he wants share.  When questioned in Lagerfeld Confidential who knows him, Lagerfeld stated that he doesn’t even know, and ‘how can he’? –  As he constantly ‘moulds people’s opinions’ so he can control what others think and know about him, adding to the exclusivity of his image.

Appearance can also not be discounted when referring to how a fashion designer can be created as a celebrity. Lagerfeld’s extravagant fashion choice no doubt aids to his stance as a fashion celebrity.

Lagerfeld’s extravagant fashion choice too provides him with a form of security. His glasses are his signature however he enjoys the mystery and security they provide him with. This is confirmed when Lagerfeld says ‘I don’t want to be filmed without my glasses’.

Other factors which contribute to the fashion designer as being a celebrity are;

  1. The use of social media: Now allows the fashion designer to come into the public through the creation of their own image in the       public domain
  2. Fashion bloggers are able to seek out and provide the public with more information that they would not otherwise not have access too
  3. The front row – Fashion designers often sit in the front row creating again the a form of separation between the public and the

Social Media Case study – brief notes to be expanded

Case study:

Social Medias impact within fashion

Industry Structure:

Social Networks (originally peer to peer)

Virtual Media (Second Life)

Micro blogs (Twitter)

Blogs (WordPress / Blogger / Tuumblr)

Professional (LinkedIN)

Sharing (Flickr/ Instagram)

Organisational bodies:

General user – the individual user social media to stay in touch

Brand – uses social media to create publicity and interaction for consumer

PR company – specialise in social media marketing

Platforms – social media platform webmasters, run the sites and provide the platform

Production of artefacts:

All user generated content facilitated by the platform

Can be from the public or a brand.

Constant evolution of content. Content is never static

Constant ‘sharing’ and recycled content. Often seen on blogs or sharing content wall to wall on facebook.



Legitimated through peer network , blogging , fashion gurus

The usage is enough to show how successful

New generation of PR specialist who only deal with online media

More options for the consumer

Real time , constant updates

Diffusion mechanisms: 

Spreads online.

Though peer to peer / brand to consumer / fan to celebrity etc.

Twitter has ‘trending now’ can search popular

Tagging on facebook

Traditional media highlighting social media ie. tv, magazines

Mind map of Technology and Fashion, some highlights


How Social Media Impacts Fashion Industry – from Jennings PR


The fashion industry is ever changing, each season spawning different trends, fads and faux paus. Social media is now putting a new spin on the already rapidly moving industry.

Until recently, the only consumer-industry interaction has been at the checkout counter or rare red carpet event. With social media booming, we see a new breed of consumer. Taking to the blogs, vlogs and tweets, consumers voice their various trend-tips, style-suggestions and fashion-feedback.

Social media offers fashion brand-loyalists a place to network with each other as well as with the industry itself. No longer does the industry have to depend on alternate trend-spotting sources and risky production decisions, they have a free real-time source of certainty through social media content. Social media now links the consumer directly to the industry.

How will this further change the industry? Due to the rapid response capability of consumers, one can predict an even faster rate of market changes. In the fashion industry, they say one minute you’re hot, the next you’re not. Now, thanks to social media, hot just became cold as consumers trend-in and trend-out through social media content. The fashion industry will now need to adapt to an already ever-changing market.

CEO of FashionablyMarketing.Me, Macala Wright, stresses the importance of internet marketing in her article “Should Fashion Brands Hire Agencies For Social Media Marketing?”

“Can two to three people blog, Tweet, use Facebook, upload videos, manage SEO, digitally merchandise product lines, implement email campaigns, manage PPC, create landing pages and coordinate online marketing with offline events?

The answer is NO. However, many companies think they can.”

“In the past three years, I’ve found that brands and retailers, namely those that are making $10-100 million in yearly gross revenue, have little idea how to approach the Internet. Until 2004, most brands and retailers thought of their sites as place holders and B2B marketing tools. They relied on brick and mortar stores to stock their lines and distribute them to consumers. Launching eCommerce didn’t become a priority until 2007, when the economy started to show signs of recession.”

The fashion industry is the perfect model for other markets to witness the impact of social media. With the world becoming a real-time, mile-a-minute, high expectation environment, keeping up with the Joneses just became creed to consumer-conscious industries.

5 Ways Social Media Changed Fashion in 2009

This article, by CEO of FashionablyMarketing.Me, Macala Wright Lee, goes in depth with five specific ways in which social media has impacted the fashion industry. And, true to the social-media creed, invites readers to post their comments asking, “What sort of brand engagement do you hope to see in 2010?

An article taken from http://www.jenningssocialmedia.com/blogged/social-media-impacts-fashion-industry/

Social Medias impact from http://socialnowpr.wordpress.com


“Fashion has often been thought of as an esoteric industry full of anorexic beauties, fabulous designers, and editors with more strappy sandals than common sense.  However, the industry has been undergoing a makeover of sorts as a result of our highly digitalized age.  Specifically, the vast majority of designers stream their runway shows to the major social networks, thus allowing us plebeians to get in on the action.  This immediacy means the masses are viewing, judging, and interpreting trends in a matter of minutes instead of a few months.  This has led to the rise of the fashion blogger, as well as discount chains capable of churning out near replicas of this season’s wrap dress in mere days.  In fact, it’s worth examining how social media has influenced fashion and just who benefits from the explosion of Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, Tumblr, and Google+.

First and foremost, girls and boys devoted to fashion have existed since the industry began, but they were often viewed with ill-disguised amusement. After all, an appreciation of fashion is oft considered indicative of intellectual decay, but the current generation has propelled willowy bloggers to astronomical heights of popularity.  The creators of blogs suddenly have access to the privileged world of fashion; in fact, these bloggers enjoy the same privileges that used to be reserved exclusively for fashion editors.  Consequently, their blogs become saturated with specific brands and websites because corporations are now advertising their wares on these style making sites. While this is undoubtedly problematic, the fact remains that fashion bloggers offer a new eye with which to observe trends through.

However, another segment of the population benefits from fashion’s high accessibility and visibility: discount giants.  Fashion retailers such as Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe, along with department store behemoths, including Macy’s, often “borrow” heavily from the runway.  Designers are quick to call foul on this practice, but companies accused of cheating deny that they’re doing anything wrong.  Furthermore, this position is supported by customers who buy the couture-inspired dresses and coats en masse.

Ultimately, social media’s impact on the fashion industry is similar to what social media has done for the world: it opens it up, allows us to interact with others regardless of distance, and gives us a sneak peek at the other side.”



TSEN Launch

I recently attended the TSEN launch in Collingwood, Melbourne.  What a great way to celebrate the launch of a new line. Although it was a great night i can see how these events are in a sense manufactured to become a form of branding and advertising for the label.

At these events lots of high profile fashionable elite were present as well the blogging community. The days after the event i came to realise that in fact these events are much bigger than they appear. For days afterward bloggers wrote about the night and created and built the brand which is TSEN through the well know people who attended.

Through Facebook the ability of ‘tagging’ also helps to promote this further. Individuals can tag or be tagged and this brings the advertising into the world of social media.

The points mentioned above all help in the system and flows of fashion which is accentuated by people and technology.

Example of how branding is achieved through fashion photography. The photographer mentioned how she needed to get images of the sponsor products while photographing the guests also. This is then advertising when its posted up on the blogs and Facebook as it promotes a lifestyle along with the original brand.

*Photo from StyleZilla http://www.stylezilla.com.au/article/tsen-a-w-2012-collection-launch-295


Some rings I have made using recycled sea glass. The use of technology has allowed people to see what I and others can make without having to have a store of presence within ‘reality’ which is often hard to achieve if it is production on a small scale.  It has enabled me to access people who i wouldn’t normally through the brilliance of technology. Sites such as Etsy and eBay also contribute to this form of fashion.