The world of online fashion: Chat with FARFETCH

In this exclusive interview, we delve into the world of online fashion from FARFETCH’s perspective. Known for its platform connecting luxury brands and consumers around the world, FARFETCH has revolutionized and redefined the way people experience and access luxury fashion.

We spoke to Hélder Dias, Product Director at FARFETCHto learn how the company is shaping the future of e-commerce.

Hélder Dias is product director at FARFETCH. He is responsible for the strategy, organization and alignment of the product and technical areas towards the company’s overall mission to become the global platform for the luxury fashion industry.

An engineer by training, he spent the first 15 years of his career working with retailers around the world, helping them develop their digital and physical presence, leveraging all the necessary technological tools. He joined FARFETCH in 2016 in product, later adding technology and data to his portfolio and leading the overall technology product development strategy at Farfetch.

Farfetch. How did this idea come about? What is it made of?

Helder Slides (HD): It is very important for us to provide our consumers with the best and most innovative ways to visualize the products they are considering. That’s why the areas of VTO (Virtual Try On) and AR (Augmented Reality) are areas of strategic investment at FARFETCH. To the point where in 2020 we acquired WANNABY, a technology company focused on this area to complement our in-house capabilities.

The 3D Viewer is our latest initiative in this space, where every detail and angle of handbags and accessories can be viewed through immersive augmented reality and improved image quality. It is an innovative tool that allows consumers to experience the product as if they actually had it in their hands. Currently, this technology can be used in around 170 wallets on the FARFETCH website alone.

EcN: Fashion trends are constantly evolving. How does FARFETCH anticipate and adapt to these changes to stay at the forefront of the industry?

HD: The creation of FARFETCH is based on the premise of innovation and disruption in the fashion sector. When the company was founded 15 years ago, it was the world’s first luxury marketplace, and since then we have deeply integrated the concept of staying at the forefront of technological innovation in our market into our DNA and company culture.

In recent years we have felt an acceleration of change (the pandemic was even a catalyst for this) – and internally we have been very focused on maintaining this innovative mindset.

Technology has played a crucial role in this and, in addition to the fact that entire teams focus on technological exploration of new concepts, we also work a lot from a market partnership perspective, be it with established companies such as Microsoft and Google or with emerging and start-up companies -up companies through our incubation and acceleration program called Dream Assembly, which over the years has allowed us to build very strong partnerships with companies working on disruptive conceptsand has even led to some acquisitions, such as Luxclusif.

Ultimately, we believe that the only way to stay at the forefront of innovation is to create the culture for it and ensure that innovative and disruptive thinking is part of our natural work processes, regardless of whether the innovation is 100% internal or created through partnerships.

EcN: Customer experience is crucial. How does FARFETCH improve this experience and what elements differentiate it from other fashion platforms?

HD: The most important thing for us is to look at the customer experience holistically: from the way the customer sees and knows us in digital marketing channels (social networks, CRM, etc.) to the experience in the digital channels (from the quality and Website performance). , image quality, search quality, recommendations and personalization to the ease of completing a transaction) to the entire post-purchase experience (speed of purchase, delivery, packaging, customer service if applicable, return process, etc.).

Precisely because all of these elements contribute to the customer experience, there is no single answer. Rather, there is a continuous development of all of these elements, strongly supported by technology and innovation and with many elements of experimentation (“A/B testing”).

To support our ongoing strategy to improve the customer experience in the diverse global context in which we operate, we rely heavily on a range of techniques that enable us to identify areas for improvement. We primarily use customer research, consumer insights, data science and statistical analysis of data and patterns. Then, We convert all of this information into metrics that reflect the quality of the experience we provide. Additionally, we are gradually adjusting our internal customer satisfaction goals to maintain our focus on continuous improvement.

What we believe sets us apart from others from an experience perspective is precisely this approach: we focus on providing each customer with a localized and personalized experience, where they can browse channels in their language, view a product offering tailored to your preferences and yours history, and can pay in your currency using your preferred payment method, ensuring that the entire purchase and post-purchase process is easy and reliable.

EcN: Continuous innovation is a core value at FARFETCH. Can you tell us about any future initiatives or areas of interest the company would like to explore?

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HD: As previously mentioned, our commitment to innovation aims to: Continue to improve the customer experience, facilitate the search and selection process, and simplify the purchasing process as much as possible. Therefore, we continue to focus on some specific areas to make it easier to visualize products, either through the 3D viewer or behind Virtual Try On with augmented reality (where we are continually increasing the number of categories and products where this is possible ), the use of artificial intelligence to support searches, the relevance of the recommendations and the choice of the right size for the customer (which represents one of the great challenges of e-commerce: the difficulty of choosing the right size) and the use of artificial intelligence to improve our speed and ability to provide pre-sales and after-sales service (customer support).

EcN: Sustainable fashion is becoming more and more important. How does FARFETCH address sustainability and social responsibility in its business activities?

HD: Sustainability is one of the cornerstones of FARFETCH activities. Our social responsibility strategy is based on what we call Positive FARFETCH Your goal is to be a great agent of change and have a positive impact on the partners, consumers and brands we work with every day. This strategy is based on four axes: Positively Cleaner, Positively Conscious, Positively Circular and Positively Inclusive, which touch different areas within the company. These four axes serve as a guide when it comes to making our processes more efficient and more environmentally friendly. I can highlight some examples of what we have done, such as encouraging our partner boutiques to reduce product packaging in order to reduce the amount of packaging distributed.

Our efforts to develop innovative technologies to reduce returns are also part of this social responsibility strategy. I would also like to highlight our second-hand goods section, which has grown significantly in importance over the years and allows for the resale of used clothing and accessories, thereby promoting reuse and reducing waste.

These are just a few examples of our commitment to sustainability and something we want to continue to promote and develop to make a positive contribution to our partner community and society.

EcN: Let’s talk about e-commerce in Europe. Which market does FARFETCH operate in? stronger? Because what is that?

HD: We do not normally share performance data for specific markets, but across Europe as a whole we saw strong performance and sustained growth, with Germany, France, Italy and Spain among the markets where the environment was most favorable. Our success in these markets is due to a few key reasons (according to our analysis): our wide product range (we are the online luxury platform with the most brands and products), our localized and personalized customer experience (from digital channels to services) and a Track record of creating a brand identity that we believe will resonate with European audiences.

EcN: What differences are there between Portugal and Spain in terms of sales in the Iberian market?

HD: The main difference, of course, is the size of each market. In Spain there is not only a larger group of luxury fashion consumers, but also a greater penetration of purchasing these types of products online.

EcN: What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses?

HD: Our most valuable asset is our technological capacity and the overall platform and services we offer to the industry. We often say that we are pioneers of the luxury fashion industry, which means we partner in every way and strive to support and advance luxury companies, brands, designers and boutiques. I wouldn’t say it’s a weakness, but we believe it impacts all platform businesses and that it’s the nature of the industry that we’re more exposed to market volatility and given more challenging macroeconomic contexts, we can be more affected.

EcN: Black Friday is approaching, what can we expect from this year’s Farfetch campaign?

HD: With the expansion and globalization of e-commerce, we have seen the emergence of an online shopping event of great importance alongside the already well-known Black Friday. Singles Day, a Chinese shopping festival also held in November, has become our second most important sales period. As for Black Friday itself, over the years we’ve watched it transform from one day into an entire season. In some countries, the week before Black Friday has become very important. Elsewhere, Black Friday week becomes a non-stop shopping festival, while elsewhere the focus is primarily on Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday itself.

Regardless of the specific dates that are relevant in each country in which we operate, this period usually represents one of the highlights of the year for us. We invest a lot of time in creating it in order to offer the best content, promotions and services guarantee. Therefore, our expectations remain high and expect a positive reaction from our customers in this very special time for e-commerce.

EcN: What other news do you have for this year?

HD: In addition to all of this, an important goal for us this year is to continue to strive for excellence in execution and launch some key websites on our platform, such as: Bergdorf Goodmana flagship department store in the US whose e-commerce website will be powered by FARFETCH technology later this year.

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