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Insights from Online Retailer 2017 – Day 1

If you want to get a result the world has never seen before, you have to be prepared to do something the world has never seen before.

That was the takeaway from Thankyou co-founder Daniel Flynn’s opening keynote at the Online Retailer conference in Sydney today.

While Thankyou products are now stocked in major retailers, including Coles and Woolworths, Flynn told the audience of retailers and exhibitors it wasn’t always obvious the business would be a success.

“We were hacking our way through it in the beginning,” he said, adding that the first question his co-founder Jarryd Burns asked was, “How do you actually start a bottled water business?”

From the beginning, Flynn, Burns and fellow co-founder Justine Flynn did things differently. Instead of building the business slowly over time, they pitched one of the biggest players in the bottled beverages before they were even up and running.

But according to Flynn, disregarding these unspoken rules has been crucial to the company’s success. “Who says we have to do things the way they have been done before?” he said.

Touching on the same theme, Krissie Millan, vice president of e-commerce and digital innovation at the US-fashion brand, Rebecca Minkoff, acknowledged there’s always a risk to going against the grain.

“We’re not afraid to try new things and test, with the potential that there could be mistakes. We won’t always have positive results, but we learn from them,” she said.

Millan credited that mindset to the company’s founders, Rebecca and Uri Minkoff. “It trickles down,” she said.

Rebecca Minkoff has gained acclaim for its adoption of technology, such as smart mirrors in fitting rooms, connected stores and live-streaming fashion shows, as well investment in data analytics.

“Data is an important part of our growth and it permeates to every part of the business,” Millan said.

That even extends to the products themselves. Millan said a new collection of handbags is being developed that will let customers open exclusive content and experiences, such as joining the loyalty program.

“All these initiatives help us get a better understanding of customers to create more targeted strategies,” she said.

Drew Green, CEO of Indochino, also spoke about the importance of improving the customer experience in his talk about the made-to-measure suit company’s bricks-and-mortar strategy.

The US menswear company is on track to have 40 showrooms by the end of 2018, a move that is as much about the creating a “culture” as a physical presence. 

According to Green, retailers today must sell an experience not a product.

We will update this story with further insights as the day continues. 

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