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  • Writer's pictureMadeline Caris

What You Need to Know from Vogue’s Future of E-Commerce Conversation

“Thanks Gerald!” I yell out to my Australia Post mailman, who I’ve seen more than my Mum since being in lockdown. He’s come by, packages in hand, almost every second day it seems, to bring all the goodies that I may or may not have remembered purchasing in the middle of the night. And judging by this article by the ABC, I’m not the only one, with online fashion deliveries up an incredible 203 percent! Going off this, the future of e-commerce is most definitely a landscape that is going to be completely different from the one before C19.

As I listen to Vogue’s Global Conversations held recently, the knock-on effect that this crisis has had on the industry is huge with many so uncertain on how to navigate through this unprecedented time. But phew, thankfully Anna Wintour and the Vogue team are on the case to gather industry leaders together to discuss the best way forward.

The session held on Day 3 “The Future of E-Commerce”, seeks to shed some light and get the conversation flowing with panelists such as Virgil Abloh of Off-White and Louis Vuitton Men, Stephanie Phair of Farfetch, and Remo Ruffini of Moncler.

Moderated by Vogue China’s Editor in Chief Angelica Cheung, the esteemed panelists discuss for an hour on what changes they have made in their own businesses and what they see in the future of fashion. But to save you time, I’ve listed below the key points I took away from the evening so that you have more time to learn how to play that new piano of yours or purchase that red lipstick you heard about today. (Tom Ford lipstick in Shanghai Lily anyone? Trust me, with red lipstick on, ain’t nobody looking at yesterday’s pajama top you wore on Zoom!)

1. Dual Teams

Ruffini echoed the same sentiment that many around the world are already saying which is that this event is “the best restart”, and we “must be flexible and ready for our new customer” out the other side of this.

He goes on to say that a new way of strategic thinking needs to be applied, as you need to be able to think long term and not just focus on how you are going to generate revenue in the next few months. He introduced the notion of TWO teams in his business: one team that “cares about tomorrow morning”, and the other team that thinks about the long term strategy.

That was an interesting idea that stood out to me, and perhaps it's not necessarily dual teams in business but perhaps a new mindset for us all. Is what I’m doing RIGHT NOW - for Team Tomorrow Morning or Team Long Term?

2. Customer Brand Loyalty becomes Self Love

The future of e-commerce now more than ever needs an increased focus on the customer and hearing what they have to say. “You have to be where the consumer is,” states Phair, “it’s not about selling, it is about actually creating that human connection.”

It’s not about selling, it is about actually creating that human connection.

Abloh agreed and states the whole approach will change and brands will “listen to the consumer first” and respond, instead of the previous model where brands were “projecting ideas that hopefully took hold.”

In my opinion, this shift is HUGE, to say the least. If I reflect back to my days as a luxury fashion buyer, I would at times look at a product and wonder if it was pushing the boundaries a little too far into Avant-Garde Land. The thing is no matter how “out there” something was, it would sell because the Love of Brand was there. But is the Love of Brand now shifting to Self Love in our Covid-19 Times? In this time of isolation, is the consumer more aware of what they want outside of campaigns, peers and trends?

Is the Love of Brand now shifting to Self Love in our Covid-19 Times?

3. How Will Social Media Change in the future of E-Commerce?

Based on the above new approach, this will invariably change the way we communicate in social media and online. And if there was one point that all three panelists were 100% in agreeance upon, it was the notion that the future of e-commerce is all about engagement with the customer.

“Direct to consumer is a trend that has been happening for a while, but now it is not just transactional but it’s about having a conversation with the customer and having that two-way engagement.” - Phair observes from being at Farfetch.

It’s about having a conversation with the customer and having that two way engagement.

Ruffini echoed the same sentiment, advising this is ‘the time to connect with the customer on an emotional level,’ and with his honest Italian flair stated ‘now is not the time to be showing another jacket or another model’. Businesses need to ‘change the tone of our communication’ in order to ‘be close to our customer’.

Now is not the time to be showing another jacket or another model

In the future of e-commerce, we need to ‘be in tune with your customer but now in totally different ways & with totally different values... raise your word, not your voice” Ruffini points out.