July 22, 2024

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Fashion Trends, Shopping More Joyfully

What Fashion’s E-Commerce and Tech Professionals Need to Know Today

7 min read

Discover the most relevant industry news and insights for fashion’s e-commerce and technology professionals, updated each month to enable you to excel in job interviews, promotion conversations or perform better in the workplace by increasing your market awareness and emulating market leaders.

BoF Careers distils business intelligence from across the breadth of our content — editorial briefings, newsletters, case studies, podcasts and events — to deliver key takeaways and learnings tailored to your job function, listed alongside a selection of the most exciting live jobs advertised by BoF Careers partners.

Key articles and need-to-know insights for e-commerce and technology professionals today:

1. Luxury E-Commerce: Who’s Surviving and Why

E-commerce players face a tough road ahead.
E-commerce players face a tough road ahead. (BoF Collage)

Mytheresa is one of a handful of multi-brand luxury e-commerce retailers, including Moda Operandi and Ssense, marching ahead despite the upheaval roiling their sector. […] E-tailers have historically been forced to compete on price, which leads to a cycle of discounting. In an effort to differentiate their offers, Ssense, Mytheresa and Moda Operandi have prioritised curation and honing in on a particular customer: Gen-Z for Ssense, top spenders for Mytheresa and runway watchers for Moda Operandi.

Moda Operandi’s virtual trunk shows — which gave shoppers first dibs on Chemena Kamali’s debut collection for Chloe through pre-order, for example — attract a shopper presumably similar to the site’s founder, New York-based socialite Lauren Santo Domingo. […] Mytheresa churns out exclusive capsules tailored to its wealthy shoppers’ lifestyles — past partners include Valentino, Dolce and Gabbana and Brunello Cucinelli. Ssense, meanwhile, sees itself as the place for emerging designers.

Related Jobs:

E-Commerce Executive, De Mellier — London, United Kingdom

Junior Digital Merchandising Analyst, Ermenegildo Zegna — Milan, Italy

E-Commerce Manager, Hugo Boss — Melbourne, Australia

2. Why Fashion’s Curation Problem Is So Hard to Solve

An iPhone screen shows the Lyst app displaying different sneakers with the text "made for you."
Lyst is one company trying to curate the products shoppers see on its app and website to their individual tastes. (Lyst)

Understanding what customers want and giving it to them is a simple idea but difficult to execute. To create its recommendations, Spotify starts to learn the relationships between songs by looking at which ones users frequently put in playlists together, it told the Wall Street Journal. It adds in metadata, such as the song’s release date and label, and runs audio analysis to rank characteristics such as danceability, acousticness, loudness, tempo, energy and mode […]. Spotify uses the information to build a multi-dimensional map of all the tracks in its library. Those positioned closer together are more closely related and thus probably appeal to the same listeners.

The technique isn’t unique to Spotify, but in fashion the method is tough to replicate. Part of what makes Spotify work is its huge song library, which has something for everyone. The fashion equivalent of songs would be inventory. But to maintain an inventory that size would be prohibitively expensive. It would also require cataloguing each product at the same level of granularity.

Related Jobs:

E-Merchandiser Third Parties, Prada Group — Milan, Italy

E-Commerce Operations & Customer Service Specialist, Amiri — Los Angeles, United States

E-Commerce Specialist, Moncler — South Korea

3. Farfetch Owner Coupang: Everything You Need to Know

A screenshot of the womenswear section of the Coupang website and Coupang chief executive Bom Kim.
A screenshot of the womenswear section of the Coupang website and Coupang chief executive Bom Kim. (Coupang)

Coupang is back in the headlines. The New York-listed South Korean e-commerce company that acquired Farfetch in January released its first quarter results in May. It marked the first time that losses from the troubled London-based luxury marketplace were included in its financial statement. Coupang’s quarterly revenue increased 23 percent to $7.1 billion but net income plunged 95 percent to just $5 million.

[…] After the takeover, the departure of Farfetch founder José Neves and eight C-suite executives left Coupang’s chief executive Bom Kim with the difficult task of steering Farfetch back on track. […] “We’re already executing a plan to make Farfetch self-funding,” Kim said in a February conference call with analysts following Coupang’s full-year financial results. “And we see many paths to making this a worthwhile investment for shareholders.”

Related Jobs:

Digital Tech Product Management Lead, Gucci — Milan, Italy

E-Commerce Product Manager, Tempe — Alicante, Spain

E-Commerce Merchandise Planning Senior Specialist, On — Shanghai, China

4. Who International Retailers Hire to Crack the US Market

Primark opened a dozen stores in the US in the last year, with plans to reach 60 locations by 2026.
Primark opened a dozen stores in the US in the last year, with plans to reach 60 locations by 2026. (Primark/Primark)

Primark is one of a growing number of European and Asian retailers in the midst of major US rollouts. The Irish retailer opened roughly a dozen stores there last year, with plans to reach 60 locations by 2026. Spain’s Zara and Mango and Japan’s Uniqlo are also expanding their footprint; the latter is doubling its North American store count with 20 new locations this year.

The US is the biggest apparel market, and its consumers have proven more resilient than in other major economies. But breaking through is hard; what works in a retailer’s home country doesn’t always translate to an American audience. For every H&M or Zara, which have operated successfully in the country for decades, there’s many more Uniqlos, which have needed multiple attempts to build their US business.

Related Jobs:

Digital Media Specialist, Ugg — London, United Kingdom

Marketplace Catalogue Intern, AWWG — Madrid, Spain

E-Commerce Manager, Hugo Boss — Melbourne, Australia

5. The Big Money in AI Might Be for Marketing

Ads for Downy and Bounce fabric sprays appear below an AI-generated overview about removing wrinkles from clothing.
Google’s AI overview — with ads. (Google)

Last month, while people online buzzed about the mishaps in Google’s new AI-generated search results, like its suggestion to add glue to tomato sauce on pizza to keep the cheese from sliding off, the tech giant revealed some other notable AI news. Those AI-generated results will soon include ads, the company said. It also unveiled a number of other AI features. A new ability in its Product Studio, which can generate a realistic background behind a standard product shot, now allows brands to tailor the result to their brand aesthetic by letting them upload a reference image representing their style.

Since generative AI’s abilities captured widespread attention, Google and numerous other tech companies from Meta to Salesforce have raced to bundle AI of all kinds into more of their products. The audience for these features isn’t just the general internet-using public. It’s also marketers willing to spend on tools that make it easier to create ads that grab shoppers.

Tech companies have good reason to appeal to them. Their money fuels much of the industry. In Google’s most recent quarter, about 77 percent of its revenue came from companies paying to advertise on its properties, including YouTube.

Related Jobs:

Integrations Manager, Joor — London, United Kingdom

Data & Analytics Programme Manager, Primark — Reading, United Kingdom

Senior Engineer, Tory Burch — Amsterdam, The Netherlands

6. Luxury Retailers Hope For Boost in London, Milan as Shoppers Avoid Paris Olympics

Berluti, Paris, Paris Olympics
Berluti parent company LVMH has increasingly looked to benefit from associations with elite sports teams, competitions and athletes ahead of the Olympics next year. (Shutterstock)

Luxury retailers in European cities outside France are jockeying for business from deep pocketed tourists this summer, betting on a surge in visitors avoiding crowds and street closures in Paris during the Olympic Games. “Paris will probably be slow,” with cities like London, Milan or Barcelona likely seeing a lift in traffic during the event, Cartier CEO Cyrille Vigneron said on Friday.

The Summer Games, which run from July 26 to Aug. 11, are probably “not the right time to organise a very important high jewellery celebration in Paris”, said Van Cleef & Arpels CEO Nicolas Bos. “But we will keep the stores open and be very happy to welcome sports amateurs,” he added. […] A report commissioned by Paris 2024 last week flagged a possible “crowding out” effect whereby tourists that had planned to come to Paris go elsewhere, but said that it is hard to measure and to predict.

Related Jobs:

Digital Learning & Retail Excellence Specialist, Maison Margiela — Paris, France

Digital IT Product Director, Tiffany & Co. — New York, United States

CRM Manager, Kate Spade — Tokyo, Japan

7. After China, Zara Expands Live Shopping Experiment to Europe and US

Women livestreaming with a mobile phone on a tripod holding a pink T-shirt.
Douyin allegedly censors Cantonese content. (Shutterstock)

Zara will expand its live shopping broadcasts to the UK, Europe and the United States this year, testing a format that is already wildly popular in China but one with which Western shoppers are less familiar. […] Five-hour long live shopping shows in China, broadcast weekly on Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese sister site, have helped boost Zara’s sales since they launched in November, according to retail analytics firm EDITED.

“We want to take this to the Western countries, where livestream is not as popular… but we think why not — from an entertainment perspective this is like an evolution,” said a Zara spokesperson for the initiative, which is expected to launch between August and October.

Related Jobs:

Junior IT Product Developer, Alexander McQueen — London, United Kingdom

Customer Engagement Systems & IT Engineer, Tapestry — Tokyo, Japan

Senior Mobile App Developer, Ralph Lauren — Bangalore, India

8. Why Prestige Beauty Can No Longer Ignore Amazon

Kiehl’s sunscreen and moisturiser
L’Oréal-owned Kiehl’s announced its debut on the platform via Amazon Premium Beauty. (Kiehl’s)

In May, L’Oréal-owned Kiehl’s announced its debut on the platform via Amazon Premium Beauty, joining fellow portfolio brands including Lancôme, It Cosmetics and Youth to the People that already sell on the e-commerce giant. […] The move seems obvious, given L’Oréal’s prevalence on Amazon; in February earnings, the company noted sales for its Luxe division grew, driven in part by Amazon in the US. Kiehl’s is one of 24 lines within L’Oréal Luxe.

Amazon is a discoverability platform that beauty labels can no longer ignore, especially once brands see how much money they are losing to unauthorised sellers. Plus, many of the reasons to once avoid Amazon — dilution of brand equity, not controlling who you are promoted with, or exclusives with other retailers like Sephora — have largely softened.

Related Jobs:

E-Commerce Content Assistant, Invisible Collection — London, United Kingdom

Senior Software Engineer, Burberry — London, United Kingdom

Senior Software Developer, Chalhoub Group — Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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