M.Gemi Drives Online Sales With Brick-and-Mortarhttps://www.chutegerdeman.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/M.Gemi_.jpg1440428Chute GerdemanChute Gerdemanhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/27b8b1d5d4480e694e1d763231b8e868?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Luxury footwear brand, M.Gemi has taken a page from some of the industry’s best online, direct-to-consumer brands like Warby Parker, Everlane, and Bonobos. With a mission to make luxury accessible, they’re preserving the tradition of handcrafted “Made in Italy,” but transforming the process through online, “made the old way, sold the new way” is the motto. Most luxury shoe brands release just four styles a year, but through data and a direct-to-consumer model, the brand is able to operate on a fast fashion schedule releasing new styles and limited editions weekly. Working directly with a network of 15 Italian factory partners, most of them specializing in a single shoe design, they’re creating Italian-made shoes at half the cost.
Launching just three short years ago the brand has moved fast to make a name for itself and garner quite the attention of investors. Founder Maria Gangemi (whom the brand is named after), and Co-founder Cheryl Kaplan, teamed up with Rue La La Founder Ben Fischman to launch M.Gemi. The trio collectively experienced in the world of ecommerce identified a white space in the market and consumers “obsession” for shoes leading to one of the online luxury market’s most talked about brands.
Built on craftsmanship and backed by analytics, the brand reviews customer data and gleans insight into style, color, and size, designing new collections based on materials and fits that sell well. Not only does it give them flexibility to reorder popular styles, but also quickly exhaust those that don’t. The majority of styles sell out in a week, with the most popular styles completely selling out in just days.
Customer service taps into the data as well to lend styling advice and suggestions for new styles based on past purchases, creating a truly personal shopping experience for the consumer. Ecommerce usually lacks that unique connection point which could be one of the contributing factors to the brands loyal fan base. In fact, 50% of M.Gemi’s customers are repeat customers and buying, on average, four times per year, beating the industry average.
The brand acknowledges the reality of selling a typically high-touch product, and therefor has made a concentrated effort to focus on the ease and convenience of the online shopping experience paired with concierge style customer service. This is also why they’ve led into brick and mortar.
In 2016, after testing pop-up shops in New York and Los Angeles the brand opened its first “fit shop” in Soho where customers can try before they buy online. The brand’s retail strategy draws from online to create a smarter in-store experience. Fischman refers to it as “disrupting luxury.”
Customers can just walk-in or book an appointment with a shoe stylist and browse over 55 styles of flats, pumps, sneakers, sandals, and boots all priced under $350. No cash registers or counters, just comfy couches. Shoe stylists collect customer information to create profiles via tablet. The data is used later for future suggestive purchases online, as well as letting customers know when new styles have dropped as a way to encourage them to come in store. In terms of inventory they keep it lean with just two pairs per style. Styles not in stock can be ordered and shipped from their warehouse in just a few days.
Unique to the in-store experience is the customization station. Customers can personalize the brand’s signature Felize loafers choosing from 100 options of suede, stitching, pegs and monograms. The hand-sewn shoes arrive in 8-10 weeks.
Other than encouraging online sales, the in-store experience gives the brand an opportunity to educate its customers about the craftsmanship of the shoes. An aspect reinforced online, but can be seen firsthand in-store, further encouraging a purchase.
Reportedly since the store opened its conversion rate has been around 30% and the brand is already seeing a number of repeat clients. “In fact, after trying on in the store, we find that customers are returning to buy from us online more quickly (1.5 weeks faster than our online-only customers) and spending 26 percent more than online-only customers on those purchases because they have been able to see the shoes’ quality in person,” says Lesley Mottla, SVP Product & Experience at M.Gemi. As a result, M.Gemi plans to open its second location in its hometown city of Boston later this month after a $16 million dollar investment.
While traditional retailers have frustration over showrooming, M.Gemi has taken it as an opportunity to embrace the consumer mentality and create an optimized in-store retail model. Taking into consideration that 86 percent of shoppers like “experience stores,” where they can test products in stores but buy on mobile or online, M.Gemi is using the in-store experience to further drive online sales.