In conjunction with the European launch of Filippa K, we had the opportunity to interview the company's Ecommerce Manager, Patrice Lusth, about the start of their eCommerce journey in 2014, its challenges and lessons learned, and how to face the future, where quality, service, and sustainability are in focus.
You launched your eCommerce solution in 2014; what were the biggest surprises?
Actually, no huge surprises! We've been pretty good at setting challenging goals, both in regard to ourselves and others - our customers demand this. I am very pleased and proud that we have managed to meet the targets set for sales, expansion, and service, both in 2014 and 2015. Technology is always full of surprises; for example, changing our ERP system last year was somewhat surprisingly complex, even though we obviously knew it would require resources. Solving technical challenges to create business opportunities is our daily job and the result has been good.
How do you look back at the beginning of your eCommerce journey?
We are still very much at the beginning; but only a year ago, we sold our products exclusively in Sweden, and today, we cater to all of Europe. We have gone from "launching eCommerce ASAP" to conducting an international, profitable, digital business. At the same time, we have the same small, but strong team at Filippa K, together with our external partners, who fights for the best possible customer satisfaction. It is incredibly motivating to achieve success together, thanks to our eCommerce business being well-integrated. In the company, the cooperation between departments is smooth and flexible, and we all have a common focus on serving the Filippa K customer in the best way possible.
What lessons and tips would you like to share with other e-tailers?
I find it hard to give general tips that apply to all e-tailers, as it varies depending on which industry, product, and customer you target. But never compromise on quality and service, and do not let technology limit you. At the same time, do not drive development "blindly" - the benefit to the end customer should be in focus, regardless of the channel. With increased technological capabilities comes increased customer expectations, and the "lowest level” for customer satisfaction is constantly rising. Keep a seamless service between channels! Demand more from distributor companies, as they may underperform the end customer's expectations, despite their technical and analytical resources.
What do you do to stand out online?
We invest a lot in quality, sustainability, and service - core values that are important to Filippa K. We want to uphold our expectations all the way through delivery, returns, reception in-store, and the lasting quality of our garments. Innovation is a priority going forward - rental, second-hand sales, and recycling are incredibly important to the future. We offer this in our stores today, and we are trying to reach a broader audience through digital channels. We rented out garments from our spring collection in connection with the SS16 fashion show last autumn, “Lease the Look,” which was a digital project linked to a physical event that was a success! It will be exciting to see what happens with that model in the future. We focus very much on sustainability from all perspectives; in that aspect, I think we are a step ahead of many others. And you will notice even more of that in the future.
What are your thoughts/plans regarding omnichannel?
It is not only thoughts, but concrete actions from day one - omnichannel is another word for service at the level that you expect from a modern company; it's obvious, but the technology may be challenging, so it’s all about prioritising. We currently show stock levels in our retail stores on the site, and Filippa K employees in-store can see the web's stock balance during the checkout process. Therefore, it is possible to return and exchange online purchases in-store, and we have joint customer support with our stores. Last Christmas, we tested the express-delivery from in-store to customers in central Stockholm (digital campaign site together with urb-it). Right now, we are working to bring our storage facilities to a shared central warehouse. This autumn, it will be possible to get your online purchases delivered to the store. The journey has just begun, and we are ready to take the user experience to the next level on filippa-k.com.
How do you reach new customers versus keeping existing ones?
You have to constantly prove that you can meet customer expectations and give a little something extra. It is incredibly important to keep our existing customers, and there's so much more we can do. There are several ongoing initiatives, and our sustainability work serves as a basis. Our customers are environmentally conscientious, and this requires our awareness across the entire production and service chain. The focus of the fast pace of our expansion has been on reaching new customers - Filippa K currently has its own retail stores in seven markets, and the eCommerce channel covers twenty-seven European Union countries and Norway. Our resellers, that sell both online and offline, are also a great way to reach new customers and markets.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Filippa Knutsson herself has said: ”We’re inspired by ourselves and those around us.” Firstly, I am a very active and demanding customer myself, with one ear always to the ground, and I look not only at competitors in the industry, but also at different types of services that are at the forefront of technology. I follow leading daily news feeds, newsletters and technology or business sites; and I am also inspired by listening to customers, sharing knowledge and ideas with my colleagues, and all the smart people I've worked with in the last ten years. Not to mention all the inspiration you get when traveling and meeting the younger generations that have completely different frames of reference and have never experienced a reality without the iPhone.
Who are your main competitors?
I do not want to point out any specific competitors in the fashion industry, as I view everyone that potentially takes our customers' time as possible competition. We want the customers to spend their valuable time at Filippa K, with our different store concepts and social/digital platforms.
In 2014, you only had a Swedish site, and today you are represented in twenty-eight countries across Europe. What is it like to open up so many countries in such a short time frame, and how has the collaboration with Vaimo been?
It has been both fun and challenging, to use a cliche. The challenging part is that expanding the eCommerce business does not only involve two partners - it's like running an entire company. Everything has to work and be perfectly integrated - legal, financial, logistics, distribution, ERP and product data, external services related to the sites, local adjustments, visual experience, mobile and all communication, timing and adaptation of newsletters. We are both a large and a small company at the same time, which means we cannot be careless, but at the same time, we cannot get stuck in slow processes. I am so incredibly happy and proud of the team at Filippa K that has fought hard, and of course, we have our stores on board, that are all focused on what is best for the customer! For Vaimo, I think it has been a journey to work with a brand that both wants to grow fast, be profitable, and at the same time, focus on details - our frontend and design, despite its visual simplicity, is not always easy to work with. "Less is more" has a totally new meaning for us. I appreciate that we can think “new,” be flexible, and challenge ourselves in how we can use time and resources smarter while delivering quality. This is the key challenge to constantly improve ourselves.
What market/markets have the greatest potential?
It will be interesting to follow the developments in Europe's largest countries: United Kingdom, Germany and France. Today, Sweden is still our largest market, which of course means that if you look at the sales per capita, we have huge potential in almost all countries, and Sweden is still growing every month. The potential can be exploited with smart branding combined with the optimisation of the site's features and all our social channels. Then we have the rest of the world, where the United States, Japan and China, of course, have huge potential!
How do you see that your eCommerce developing in the coming year and what challenges do you see ahead?
The geographical expansion will have to take a backseat in favour of conversion optimisation of various kinds. We will also focus more on improving our dialogue with our customers to create customer insight.
When we say filippa-k.com in the year 2020, what do you envision?
I envision our most important sales channel and brand platform.
Complete the sentence:
Filippa K stands for - conscious minimalism
Filippa K´s average customer is - conscientious both in terms of the environment, style, and health, and wants first class service and quality; an urban, career-focused woman or man, in the 25-40 age range.
My daily role demands - that I am sharp, motivated, well rested, and online.
My motto is - anything is possible!
I am 100% satisfied with a working day when - I come home and feel that I have accomplished something that is prioritised together with the team, that I have been able to contribute to improvements and still have the energy and time to spend with my wonderful family.
KPI's from Google Analytics - May-December 2014 compared to May-December 2015
98% - Increase in conversion rate on desktop
28% - Increase in conversion rate on mobile
93% - Increase in conversion rate on tablet
249% - Increase in revenue on desktop
325% - Increase in revenue on mobile
326% - Increase in revenue on tablet
46% - Increase in average order value on desktop
93% - Increase in average order value on mobile
80% - Increase in average order value on tablet
34% - Increase in number of sessions on the site