Stephanie Horton, CMO of ecommerce platform Farfetch, will be speaking at this year’s Festival of Marketing.
Ahead of the event next week, I sat down with her to talk a little about Farfetch’s branding strategy and what makes it so unique.
Here is what she had to say.
Farfetch describes itself as “for fashion lovers, not followers” – can you talk a bit about the general branding strategy of the company?
It’s interesting how the brand has actually evolved a lot since that statement.
When we first started out we were definitely a fashion site for people who wanted to find that special item – but since then the brand itself has really expanded into more than just a shopping platform.
We now have Black and White, which is a new division we launched last year, that lends our technology to retailers and brands.
So where before we focused on putting boutiques on the site, we’re now looking at ourselves as more of a platform for luxury.
What is Farfetch’s USP in relation to other luxury retailers like Net-a-Porter and Style.com?
It’s mainly breadth and selection, because we have over 500 boutiques around the world contributing to the site as well as over 200 brands.
We have more product, sometimes even more than a brand’s own website, and we have more variety of product.
For example, you’ll have a buyer in Toyko, a buyer in Paris and a buyer in New York – all from the same brand – so instead of having maybe six or seven selections, you might have 30 or 40.
For a consumer it is amazing because they can actually shop and style a certain brand or designer, rather than having a limited number of pieces.
What is the value for boutiques selling on Farfetch?
The site started because a lot of the smaller boutiques and brands didn’t have the ability to do ecommerce – for them it’s a very expensive and time-consuming proposition.
They simply didn’t have the resources to do it.
By using Farfetch, they are able to gain a global audience and gain all the infrastructure needed to become a real player in the ecommerce world.
That includes things like customer service, payment… all those factors they would have had to figure out for themselves.
Last year, it was announced that Farfetch had acquired the Browns store in London – does this signal a move into physical branded stores?
I think Farfetch has always been really focused on the physical experience.
One thing José, our founder, always says is that fashion is not downloadable. So it’ll never be the case that customers will only ever buy online – stores will always be an important part of the process.
Browns allows us to have that incubator, a sort of lab to test new things and the technology to make the retail experience even better.
For us it was just a way to really expand, do more things, and be able to roll more things out to our boutique and retail partners at large.
How do you ensure the experience of ‘luxury’ is replicated in digital?
I think every site has a point of view, and you just have to take that and really make sure that it is coming through in all aspects – from the quality of the editorial to the look and feel and how you’re presenting things.
It’s important to read reviews, and make sure that the consumer experience is up to scratch.
It’s also recognising that luxury requires certain things online that it might not in physical stores.
Everything from the quality of customer service to the quality of delivery and how easy it is to return – making sure that all of those things stand up and that they are of a premium standard.
Lastly, what will you be speaking about at the Festival of Marketing?
I’ll be speaking about international marketing – so what we look for when going into a new market as well as what we know about our customers.
There will be a focus on how Farfetch has been able to expand globally, the key leverages for us and the biggest challenges throughout the process.
The Festival of Marketing takes place in London on October 5-6.