CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS

  • Marc Metrick, President of Saks Fifth Avenue- Authenticity is the New Luxury Posted by Admin

    Marc Metrick

    Summer is gone, which means the holiday season is on the way. The retail industry has changed a lot over the years, and cyber deals are happening more often keeping shoppers at home. There are some big box retailers who believe that consumers still enjoy getting out into the rush of the holiday season. Marc Metrick, President of Saks Fifth Avenue, says it’s all about giving an experience to the in-store shopper. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on how Saks plans to keep their shopper entertained.

    Metrick has been part of the Saks family since 1995. He started in their executive training program shortly after graduating from college, and has held the position of president of Saks since 2015. “I love the power that retail has in people’s everyday lives,” Metrick said. He loves walking down the street and seeing people wear fashion that was decided on by players like himself months ago. Fashion definitely plays a huge role in the day to day, and now with social media consumers can speak on it. “The consumers for the first time in my career are ahead of us. This is the age of information. As retailers, we use to be able to dictate fashion trends. We would dictate the terms of engagement-this is how you get things, when you get things, the policy on which you can return them. Now, it’s almost upside down,” said Metrick.

    No one can doubt that technology and social media give the consumer a voice and opportunity to influence retailers decisions. In this form, technology is a friend. “We have to be faster, more nimble and agile,” Metrick said on keeping up with fast-moving consumers. “It’s a lot more challenging, but a lot more fun,” he said. “Part of the luxury is all about sharing,” he continued noting that allowing consumers to give suggestions is all part of the luxury. The more they listen to the suggestions the more it creates a real experience for shoppers. As Metrick believes, “Authenticity is the new luxury.”

    Then there is the constant struggle of getting people into the store and making money online. Is there a different strategy for the different types of consumers? “It’s about connecting, making it a seamless transition between the offline and the online,” he said. “We want to bring you in from Saks.com into the store without the dialogue having to start all over again,” he said. They have done so successfully with 75% of their sales being digitally influenced. Another thing Metrick pointed out is that when you do get them in the store it’s all about the experience. “You make retail magical by making it about the experience. People don’t want to just come in stores to shop, and buy things. They can do that anywhere. Now, you have to make it more entertaining,” he said.

    Earlier this year, Metrick introduced the “The Wellery” where shoppers could experience sea salt rooms for relaxation or try out gym equipment. In the Saks Men’s stores, men can have coffee, and get their shoes shined. They continue to innovate and surprise their consumers.

    For those looking to make their mark in retail, Metrick had a little bit of advice. “Having conviction in what we believe in is the best thing we can do,” he said. “It is an unbelievably dynamic time in fashion. The industry is embracing new ideas and new talent,” he added.

    Keep up with the upcoming trends at Saks right here, www.saksfifthavenue.com.

  • The Nordstrom Family Introduces New Store Concept Posted by Admin

    Pete Nordstrom

    Nordstrom, a Seattle based company, has been in business since 1901. Once a booming and growing business, Nordstrom is now making major decisions to preserve the name. Pete Nordstrom, co-President of Nordstrom, has been working for the company since he was 12 years old when he would accompany his dad to work. As a board member, he will be weighing in on the decision to take the company private which would give family member $1 billion in equity. In the meantime, there is one new concept that may keep customers running back to Nordstrom.

    “Our goal is to make people feel good,” said Nordstrom. The company has decided to try a new shopping concept which they are calling Nordstrom Local. The new store will offer personal styling, manicures, and even beer and wine. It will not be your normal off-the-rack. Stylists will pull selections for the customers. Nordstrom said they will be opening as soon as October 2017 with their first location in Los Angeles.

    Like other big box retailers like Macy’s and JcPenney’s, retailers are trying to keep up with the change in buying trends. “When you are a public company you are obligated to grow,” Nordstrom said. The company not being owned by the Nordstrom family anymore means they have someone to answer to. “A lot of our growth has been accredited to what’s happening online, but it is still only 20% of our business. We are still largely defined by what happens in our store,” said Nordstrom. It works hand in hand as Nordstrom said, “We improve our online business by doing really great in stores.”

    In addition to trying new shopping concepts, Nordstrom has been known to bring in top brands and creating stores inside the store. Brands such as Topshop and Madewell have made a home inside of select Nordstrom stores. It wasn’t easy convincing Sir Philip Green, who is a chairman for Arcadia Group which includes Topshop and Topman. “Our competitive advantage is that we are growing,” Nordstrom said as a reason that vendors would want to partner with them. Green wasn’t so sure that having Topshop in Nordstrom would be a great fit or a great look. Nordstrom had other thoughts and told Green, “The reason you should sell to us is you are trying to create a business in the U.S. where you own stores. You’ll have to market your way through that, and it’s going to cost you a zillion dollars. If you just allow us to carry your stuff, and you make money on that you introduce your brand to thousands of thousands of customers across the country. You can learn regionally where you do the best.” Topshop’s success led Madewell to go after Nordstrom for the same setup.

    As far as other ways to keep growing and the doors open at Nordstrom, there’s a strong belief they can ride the wave of changing consumer trends and stay on top. “The millennial customer will outspend the baby boomer customer by 2020,” Nordstrom predicted. “Once you get them online more, they spend more in-store,” he continued. “We don’t have to come up with a scheme to them. They are already there,” he said.

    We are on the lookout for the new store concept and maybe even joining for a day of manicures and shopping. Let’s hope the company continues growing. Until then, we will keep up with Nordstrom online at nordstrom.com.

  • How Volterman Won With a Winning Crowdfunding Campaign Posted by Admin

    Volterman

    Have you ever lost or misplaced something important? I bet you wished there was a little fairy that could point you right to the place you left it. Well, your wish just may be granted. A team of Armenian engineers have created a wallet that cannot be misplaced. Volterman not only has a tracking system so that you know where it is at all times, but it will alert you if you are at risk for walking out of the house without it. With over 12,000 people signed up to receive the Volterman wallet, we are believing this is pure success. Not only has the Volterman team grabbed people’s attention, but they’ve secured over $1.8 million dollars by crowdfunding. We got the scoop on how they created a successful campaign. Narek Vardanyan, who led the campaign, shares his tips.

    MillionaireMatch: Where did the idea for Volterman come about?

    Narek: It started when the inventor, Azat Tovmasyan, lost his wallet. His two year old hid it. He came up with this idea to create a wallet that you can never lose. We started to work on this project two years ago.

    I’m a crowdfunding consultant that has helped many companies raise money. He came to us with his idea, and we started to do market research. We added some new functions which made the wallet even better than when we first started.

    MM: Tell me about the features that are getting everyone’s attention.

    Narek: It’s a very high quality wallet. It has a power bank, which means you can charge your phone up to 100% while on the go. It has a bluetooth alarm system. If you forget your phone behind, your wallet will alert you and vice versa. Your phone will ring if you forget your wallet.

    There’s also a global GPS tracking system. In case your wallet is stolen, you will be able to track it in real time. In any corner of the world, you can see where your wallet is. It cannot be stolen. Another feature is the camera. When the wallet understands that it is in a lost spot, this tiny camera will snap a photo of the thief when it is opened and will send you the photo. The final feature is global wifi. The wallet can provide you access to the internet anywhere in the world at the cheapest rates instead of you incurring roaming charges while traveling.

    MM: Why did you choose crowdfunding over getting an investor?

    Narek: Crowdfunding is an interesting way to enter into the market. It’s a great place to do market research, public relations and get in front of the investors. With this big campaign, we raised over $1.8 million dollars. We became very well known and had a lot of media write about us. I think crowdfunding was the right decision.

    MM: What sort of challenges came about with launching this product?

    Narek: The first challenge that we faced was the financial challenge. We knew that we needed a marketing budget to be successful. We had a $1 million goal in mind, and we knew we would need at least $50k for marketing. It was challenging. We went to banks, looked for grants and we just couldn’t get the help. We managed to raise money from angel investors, which led us to start a new business. We wanted to help other crowdfunders to launch effectively, so we created a platform that connects investors to crowdfunding campaigns to assist entrepreneurs with their marketing budgets.

    MM: With so many people on sites like Indiegogo, how did you gain visibility?

    Narek: Many people are choosing crowdfunding, and the failure rate is about 70%. People who have raised more than $1 million on those types of platforms is less than 0.01%. I founded an agency called The Crowdfunding Formula. We have been helping campaigns to do crowdfunding for the past two years. With our experience, we know what works and what does not. We prepared over 6 months prior to the launch.

    MM: Can you share 3 key tips for having a successful crowdfunding campaign?

    Narek: After testing and making sure the product is solving a problem and ready to be marketed, here are 3 steps entrepreneurs should take to ensure a successful crowdfunding campaign:

    1. Collect subscribers before you launch. You need to have a landing page to collect as many emails as possible.

    2. Having a video. You need to create a compelling video which people will share. The video we created was watched over two million times. It was shared on Facebook and went viral, but that didn’t happen automatically. We have a team of over 35 people who were consistently pitching to media, other websites, commenting on Facebook pages and other websites.

    3. Get publicity. You need to collect a database of reporters and journalists to pitch to them after you launch your crowdfunding campaign to convince them to write about you which will bring more awareness.

    This will help people get off to a successful start. It’s a snowball effect. Once you start reaching out to people, you will continue to gain traffic on your Indiegogo or Kickstarter. Just remember, everything starts with a good product and budget preparation.

    For more information and to keep track of the Volterman wallet, check them out here. They will be releasing a Volterman backpack for men and women by the end of 2018.

  • Fashion and Technology with Nancy Katz, CEO Neiman Marcus Posted by Admin

    Nancy Katz

    Technology has changed the way people shop today, but large stores like Neiman Marcus have ridden the wave successfully. Nancy Katz, Chief Executive Officer, has seen this change in her 30 years of being part of the company. Earlier this year, the company pulled the plug on being acquired and decided to stay independent. Certainly the new way people consume luxury goods has given the store a challenge. We were able to get the scoop on how this popular retailer balances fashion and technology.

    “I’ve never been bored. I’ve always been challenged,” said Katz. A good thing she isn’t bored. She has her days filled with launching more and more email campaigns and finding ways to reach the consumer who would rather purchase the latest trendy shoes from the comfort of their laptop. For Neiman Marcus, the formula for attracting and keeping customers has remained the same. “For Neiman Marcus it comes down to two key things: beautiful products and world class sales associates,” Katz said. The challenge with online shoppers is that they miss the opportunity to connect with those notable sales associates.

    “Our ecommerce business is a big business for us,” she said. “It’s one of our highest priorities. The kind of service we have become famous for over many years, how can you have a similar service experience?” asked Katz. Neiman Marcus is known for their superb, personal service inside the store with sales associates getting to know their clients well. All is not a total loss for t Neiman Marcus, as Katz said, “Our best customers like to do both.”

    And Katz knows the Neiman customer very well. “At Neiman Marcus, we are focused on the most affluent consumer. That’s who we are. We are not ashamed or embarrassed by that,” she said. “Our customers can go anywhere in the world to shop, and they don’t need anything that we sell. It’s all about enticing thing with emotions and feelings and making them feel really good about shopping in our store,” Katz explained.

    In order to continue the enticement online, Katz got the best on her team. She hired a technology specialist from Silicon Valley. “We needed someone with that Silicon Valley background to help us think very differently,” Katz said. “Even though I knew merchants like myself were very important, we needed someone with that technology background.” she added. That decision has continued to pay off, growing the online business exponentially while sustaining all 41 Neiman Marcus stores.

    For those looking to climb the corporate ladder of fashion, Katz had one piece of advice. “I tell them that you need to learn to be flexible. That’s one of the things that has served me well in my career,” she said. As a 30 year veteran, she has worked in many roles. Some roles, she was gently pushed into and she went with it. “I thought that it would be a good stop along the way. I certainly didn’t think it would have been as long as it has been,” Katz said about her long tenure at Neiman. In addition to adding year after year of experience on her resume, Katz said, “I have an amazing collection of handbags.”

    To keep up with the latest at Neiman Marcus, be sure to get on their mailing list at www.neimanmarcus.com.

  • CEO Tony Spring on Sustaining Big Box Retail Stores Posted by Admin

    Tony Spring

    There are not many businesses that can say they have been around since the 1800s especially in the fashion industry. With more and more fashion brands popping up online without a brick and mortar, it is a wonder how companies like Bloomingdale’s still attracts customers. Tony Spring, CEO of Bloomingdale’s, is very aware of the change in the fashion industry. He is also aware of the quality that his organization brings. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on how this fashion staple plans to keep the doors open.

    Spring, who attended Cornell School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, always had a passion for hospitality and customer service. It was the people at Bloomingdale’s that convinced him to go into retail, and he’s been part of the family for over 25 years. “There’s no doubt that the retail business has changed,” Spring said. Technology and social media have played a huge importance to that change. But Spring said that Bloomingdale’s still holds true to their identity of being dynamic, bold and ever changing.

    One of the key things the brand has incorporated is content. “Sharing great content means having great content means having great content providers,” Spring expressed. Building an audience on social media became very important in the last few years for the brand. “Shopping is a hobby. We love these customers. They’re the core of our contemporary business,” he said pointing out that young and upcoming singles are one of their top demographics. “Our obligation is to make sure we are connected with the most important retailers,” Spring said on keeping up with one their core groups.

    Through the years, they have had creative partnerships with popular television shows, concerts and movies. “Bloomingdale’s wants to make sure that our marketing is integrated into everything that we do,” he said. “Create a reason for people to go shopping. Create a reason for people to go to the mall,” Spring added. The goal is to make them think of Bloomingdale’s first when shopping.

    As Spring works on creating this new way of shopping for a new generation, he is also aware of a few departments that also need a update: Home and Bridal. “The industry has to figure out what is next in home retailing. I think we have been too stuck in the past. I don’t think we have changed as fast as fashion or other businesses have,” he said. “We are trying to engage the bridal industry. We’re offering couples cooking classes as a part of signing up for the bridal registry. Whether we get 8 or 10 couples any given Saturday or Sunday, it’s another opportunity to showcase us. As a result, they will pick products that they love. We know as retailers, if you love it you won’t bring it back,” Spring said.

    His days may be filled with putting out fires and coming up with new sales strategies, but Spring has his priorities in order. “There’s nothing more important that I do than to connect with the youngest people in our organization, and help them grow. I help them see the possibilities in retail. I’m a poster child for this brand,” he said. He also knows that the young also has much to offer. “The benefit of mentoring today is that you can be mentored up or down,” said Spring.

    To keep up with the latest trends and fashion, be sure to check out www.bloomingdales.com.