Tag Archives: e-commerce

Stark Presentation at Luxury Retail Summit NYC

I had the privilege of representing Stark at the Luxury Retail Summit in NYC yesterday and was able to inform attendees of what I am doing at Stark to protect our relationships with designs while expanding our business to include retail as well. Check out the below post from Luxury Daily‘s blog summarizing my presentation. Also, check out a quick video clip at the end on me speaking about how Ecommerce will help our business!

Stark Carpet Room Setting

NEW YORK – A Stark Carpet executive at the Luxury Retail Summit: Holiday Focus 2013 yesterday discussed the lessons that the company learned while transitioning from trade-only to a retail trade combination.

During the “Stark: Evolving a Luxury Floor Coverings Brand from Trade-only Business to Retail” session, the executive discussed the challenges the company faced and how Stark readjusted its business model to accommodate both trade and retail without compromising its brand DNA and relations with interior designers. Exploring various methods can allow a brand to better adapt to a new market sector.

“Understanding the role of interior designers is vital to Stark,” said Chad Stark, vice president of operations and technology at Stark Carpet, New York.

“Interior designers are responsible for the growth and success of our business,” he said. “They understand the value of our products and translate this to consumers.”

“Designers are valuable consumers based on the frequency of projects compared to the average retail consumer.”

Luxury Daily organized the Luxury Retail Summit: Holiday Focus 2013.

Technological, generational and economic challenges
Mr. Stark shared the brand’s challenges and lessons learned subsequently.

The Internet created design enthusiasts who had wide access to free design materials when previously this was left to a knowledgeable interior designer.

Between Web sites and design magazines, retail consumers are more informed than ever and many circumvent the advice and assistance of interior designers.

For Stark it was important not to tarnish its relationship with interior designers who had helped to elevate the brand to its standing as the leader in luxury floor coverings.

The new generation of consumers is less about touch and feel and is less inclined to travel far distances to experience a product first hand before making a purchase.

With a willingness to purchase online rather than in bricks-and-mortar locations, the new generation of Stark consumers prefer the accessibility of ecommerce.

Stark discovered that this new generation is much more price-sensitive than previous groups of consumers. The Internet and their increased knowledge led to consumers visiting showrooms without a designer in an attempt to buy products directly.

Stark Carpet Room Setting Elipse

Adaptations

To accommodate the growing number of informed and price conscious consumers, Stark held warehouse clearance sales every two years in different markets to sell its overstocked products.

Stark discovered that although the warehouse was successful from a consumer standpoint, interior designers pushed back at first. Overtime, interior designers began to bring clients to the warehouse sales.

Next, Stark developed retail outlets with a trade showroom within the same bricks-and-mortar location. The trade showroom was closed off to retail consumers, but the rest of the location was designed with a scaled-down warehouse format.

This concept damaged Stark because the brand featured its high-end exclusive products next to closeout items. From this model, Stark was able to re-envision its retail outposts in the form of Stark Home.

The Stark Home model replicated the exclusive nature of its trade showrooms but created a retail atmosphere as well. In theory, the Norwalk, CT, location was meant to amplify the New York showroom, but designers felt consumers were able to obtain Stark products without their assistance after visiting the showroom.

Stark, valuing the continued support of interior designers, sought out designers circumvented by consumers and compensated their time.

Ecommerce gave Stark significant exposure through flash sales with Web sites such as One Kings Lane, Gilt and Rue La La. Although sales and exposure were successful, the flash sales ruined the exclusive nature of its products while confusing design industry.

In 2014, Stark plans to re-launch its ecommerce site to increase convenience for trade and retail consumers.

Lessons learned
Today, Stark showrooms are rooted in experience. The showrooms carry carpets and fabrics, as well as “cash & carry” area rugs in a combined trade and retail space. To inform retail consumers about Stark, products are accompanied by relevant information allowing for more engagement.

Although the trade area is only shoppable by interior designers, retail consumers are welcome to browse the area. If a product strikes them, Stark suggests a local designer to assist with the project.

The “to-the-trade” program highlights interior designers as partners since their continued patronage has ensured the integrity of Stark. The program includes signature exclusive products for trade professionals such as Stark’s collaboration with fashion label Missoni, additional discounts online and in-store, and special services such a custom product development and home consultation.

Starks trials and tribulations during its adaptations from trade-only to retail is bound to affect the industry as a whole.

“Stark is the only luxury flooring brand and we take risks for the benefit of the industry,” Mr. Stark said.

“It is a scary and thrilling position to be in,” he said. “The industry is changing and the way interior designers work with clients is changing.

“The world is transparent and information is widely found online so our sales will likely to continue to be based on designers.”

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The Fancy adds same-day delivery in NYC to encourage impulse buys

Email I got this morning from The Fancy

Email I got this morning from The Fancy

My favorite website just got even better. The Fancy, a social e-commerce startup, just added some kick-ass features to their service (see the email I got from them this morning). Below is a post about how this new functionality fits into this evolving industry from Eliza Kern at Gigaom.

The Fancy plans to add same-day delivery on items shipped to customers in New York City, as a way to differentiate the design-oriented e-commerce company, and to get customers to take the plunge and make a purchase.

 

The Fancy

Just last week, I wrote that one of the biggest challenges for design-oriented e-commerce companies like Fab and The Fancy isn’t pleasing the user or helping them discover cool products — the companies have those experiences down. Rather, it’s getting the user to actually hit “buy” for items they want, but maybe don’t immediately need.

On Tuesday, The Fancy plans to announce same-day delivery in Manhattan for no additional cost, with plans to expand throughout NYC, which the company hopes will push the consumer a little closer toward completing those transactions.

The Fancy is a NYC-based e-commerce company that sells high-end and design-oriented home, fashion, and travel items. In quickly browsing the site, you scroll through a grid of products that could include everything from Beats by Dr. Dre, awall-mounted fishbowl, a Helmut Lang maxi skirt, a waxed canvas lunch bag andBreaking Bad-themed art prints. We explained the idea behind the site last year, when it was just getting started.

Bloomberg recently reported that The Fancy had raised $53 million at a valuation of $600 million from investors including American Express and Will Smith, and that the company was doing $3 million in revenue a month. At the time, Om wrote that the company has been part of the trend toward the “Pinterest-ization of the web,” where companies use design to influence what we buy and how we think about their items, and where consumers buy things based on social interactions and suggestions from friends and followers online.

So why would a company like The Fancy care about same-day shipping? There’s been a flood of recent interest in the idea of same-day delivery as a key differentiator for e-commerce companies. Farhad Manjoo wrote for Slate recently about the glories of Google’s same-day shipping when you don’t plan ahead, or when you run out of something like toilet paper — there are times when tomorrow just won’t cut it. And there’s no question that fast shipping through Amazon Prime has helped the e-commerce giant dominate the retail market, as Om pointed out in a recent post.

For The Fancy, it’s obviously not about delivering you toilet paper when you need it. The company isn’t selling “must-have” items (unless you forgot someone’s birthday.) Instead, it’s more about convincing you to take the plunge on that Helmut Lang skirt — and assuring you that if you do, it’ll be in your hands as quickly as it would be if you ran over to Barney’s to pick one up yourself.

We’ll be talking about the impact of design on commerce and technology at ourRoadMap conference in November 2013, which you can sign up to get information on when tickets become available this summer.

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Home Furnishings And Design Site LuxeYard Bets on Social Media for Changing Industry

Banner Image

LuxeYard, a luxury home furnishings and decor site, launched an interesting e-commerce platform this past January that added a twist to the flash sales model.

Similar to sites line One Kings Lane and Gilt, LuxeYard offers up to 70 percent discounts on furniture, home decor and other accessories in daily sales. However, LuxeYard also offers what it calls ‘concierge buying,’ which allows members to request items they would like to purchase at a discounted price by posting photos to LuxeYard’s Facebook page. The most popular product will be voted up by members, and the startup’s experts will attempt to source either the exact product, or a similar product and offer this on sale to members.

LuxeYard members also have the ability to push product prices down for certain items by using Facebook and Twitter to encourage others to purchase a product, which will drive the price down. For example, members may purchase an item for $100; share the information on Facebook encouraging others to buy the same product; and two days later find out that customer demand, which they helped drive, dropped the price to $50. Everyone who purchased the Group Buy Item will pay the final lowest price.

The site also includes a set of featured design professionals and influencers provide design curation and offers aesthetic insights, product recommendations and special events exclusively for LuxeYard members. Consumers can also enter room dimensions and/or upload a photo of the room in which they’d place the piece to get a sense for how it fits with the current décor and layout before they buy.

LuxeYard has raised $3.5 million in funding from a group of undisclosed investors.

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