1. Bradford Shellhammer – Cofounder & Chief Creative Officer, Fab.com. His lesson in creativity: envelope every product in a story that enables people to form an emotional attachment with the product and an affinity with the seller.
2. Aslaug Magnusdottir – Cofounder & CEO, Moda Operandi. Her lesson in creativity: disrupt conventional retail channels to bring the shopper designer pieces that she would not otherwise be able to get.
3. Rachel Shechtman – Founder, Story. Her lesson in creativity: bring theatre back to offline shopping.
4. Ron Johnson – CEO, J.C. Penney. His lesson in creativity: Forget about tinkering around the edges with a broken concept – reinvent it to make it relevant again.
5. Jessica Alba, Co-founder of The Honest Company. Her lesson in creativity: create products that help people to feel better about activities they despise.
Read on for the full story:
Five lessons in retail creativity
May 18, 2012
The enduringly fragile state of the Australian clothing and footwear business, with its slow or no sales growth and heavy discounting, can be a discouraging sight. It’s a bit like watching your child’s Under-10 football team playing together for the first time – flashes of promise but generally looking like a disorganised rabble.
But hard times can’t take the gloss off an exciting and creative business. Internationally the fashion industry is in a state of constant technology-induced flux and uncertainty, with retailers placing big creative bets as they strive for competitive advantage.
Fast Company has just released its 2012 list of the one hundred most creative people in business and a number of people associated with fashion retail made the cut.
Here’s a sample from the list.
Bradford Shellhammer, Cofounder & Chief Creative Officer, Fab.com. His lesson in creativity: envelope every product in a story that enables people to form an emotional attachment with the product and an affinity with the seller.
Shellhammer is a pioneer in social shopping, which is roughly defined as e-commerce integrated with social features so that people can share their likes, dislikes, purchases and other commentary directly on the e-commerce site. For example, Fab.com features a live stream of things that people are buying, rather like lining people up at a cash register so that everyone can see the people in front of them get their purchases rung up.
Shellhammer links each product sold on the site with its “story.” And unlike many e-commerce sites he doesn’t try to homogenise the imagery to showcase products in a uniform style. This also helps the customer to identify more readily with the individual product vendor.
Aslaug Magnusdottir, Cofounder & CEO, Moda Operandi. Her lesson in creativity: disrupt conventional retail channels to bring the shopper designer pieces that she would not otherwise be able to get.
Moda Operandi is an online retailer that sells runway fashions soon after they have been shown and long before they reach the stores, if they ever do. Recognising that many runway designs either don’t get taken up by retail buyers or, even if they do, take months to reach regular retail outlets, Moda Operandi gives designers and shoppers a speedy e-commerce connection to trade in pieces that might never otherwise see the light of day.
Rachel Shechtman, Founder, Story. Her lesson in creativity: bring theatre back to offline shopping.
Story is a Manhattan boutique that changes everything in the space at 4-8 week intervals and recreates the entire store around a different theme. Out goes the old merchandise, the old fitout, the old theme, and in comes the new. No one can ever complain of boredom or that there is nothing new to generate repeat visits.
Ron Johnson, CEO, J.C. Penney. His lesson in creativity: Forget about tinkering around the edges with a broken concept – reinvent it to make it relevant again.
Johnson, who was formerly responsible for the rollout of the wildly successful Apple retail store chain, was hired as CEO by the ailing US department store retailer J.C. Penney back in June, 2011. His challenge was to revitalise the company’s approximately 1,100 stores and reverse Penney’s long decline.
Johnson is not one to be tyrannised by the standard formulae that dictate what a department store should look like, what it should sell, how it should be sold and what price it should be sold at.
Instead, he has set about reinventing all of it. One of the concepts at the centre of Johnson’s reinvention is the “town square,” a 1,000 square metre section to be carved out of the middle of each store. This will offer a rotating menu of services that come partly from the local neighbourhood. He is also introducing 80-100 shop-in-shop boutiques and has completely revamped the retailers’ pricing system to get away from coupons and sales.
Skeptics abound, but you can’t fault Johnson for trying to turn a broken model upside down.
Jessica Alba, Co-founder of The Honest Company. Her lesson in creativity: create products that help people to feel better about activities they despise.
The celebrity actress Ms. Alba designed a line of eco-friendly baby and household products that are sold online at Honest.com. Ms. Alba’s marketing spiel pitches product effectiveness and design elegance as well as earth-friendliness. She is quoted as saying: “You spend more time changing your kid’s bum every single day than anything else. Why not have it be more pleasant?”
It’s hard to argue with that.