In the past two years, the men’s fashion brand went through an image overhaul by expanding its apparel and sportswear collection to include footwear, belts, bracelets, leather bags, wallets and pocket squares. Last month, the label released a new range of casual shoes, priced from $275 to $399.
And now, Bugatchi’s latest initiative is to reboot its digital footprint. The label will launch an e-commerce portal and develop a lifestyle channel on its website on Monday.
Since it was founded in 1981, Bugatchi has reached customers through department stores and boutiques such as Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harry Rosen and El Palacio de Hierro.
But the retail industry has evolved over the past 35 years, and so have customers.
“Consumers are spending, on average, 25 to 30 hours a week on the computer and smartphone browsing the Internet and social-media channels,” Eric Gosselin, Bugatchi’s creative director/product brand manager, told Footwear News. “The average consumer also may only go shopping once a week during weekends, and having a robust digital presence not only allows for Bugatchi to maintain a high level of marketing communication with our customers, but also allows Bugatchi to convert that effort instantly into ROI.”
Below, Gosselin tells FN about Bugatchi’s strategy on becoming “more of a total-look brand.”
FN: What inspired the new footwear collection?
EG: “Bugatchi shoes are completely handcrafted in the Tuscan region of Italy next to the global factories of Prada, Ferragamo, Tod’s, Gucci and almost every other high-end shoe company in the world. Based on a new partnership with a factory in this region, we are now able to offer our customers the same superior quality materials and craftsmanship like the companies above, but with a Bugatchi style and more importantly, at a Bugatchi price.”
FN: What prompted Bugatchi to launch a digital retail presence?
EG: “A digital presence has become the most vital marketing and sales tool that a fashion brand can have. The average consumer also may only go shopping once a week during the weekend, and having a robust digital presence not only allows for Bugatchi to maintain a high level of marketing communication with our customers, but also allows Bugatchi to convert that effort instantly into ROI. Bugatchi will also be launching an instashop feature on our social-media channels that allows customers to instantly buy an item or a total outfit directly off Instagram without ever having to be redirected to our website. The future of the clothing business is being able to sell merchandise to a customer who was not even shopping and just decided at the spur of the moment that they need this now.”
FN: Was there a demand from consumers, or was this a growth strategy technique?
EG: “The demand for our shoes came both from a growth-strategy technique and from the demand of customers. Anytime you are able to offer a unique style to a customer at a good value, the demand is there, and having a footwear collection that merchandises perfectly with our clothing is just another added benefit.”
FN: How will expanding online change the dynamics of your customer base?
EG: “Based on our market research, there will always be an older customer who only goes to a brick and mortar stores, and that will never change. But likewise, there is an ever-growing younger customer base that only buys online. Online buying brings the entire the collection to customers at their fingertips and allows them to get free shipping and returns without ever having to deal with fighting for a parking space, visiting multiple stores and waiting on long checkout lines. Having a strong digital presence also allows you to grow your following quicker as people who already following your brand’s social media channels like Facebook are always sharing with those who don’t know Bugatchi.”
FN: Will Bugatchi sell inventory directly online, or will the brand also partner with other e-retailers?
EG: “Bugatchi has and will always sell merchandise through a wide variety of other e-retailers. To make our website more of an attractive and unique destination to our customers, we will be offering the entire collection on our website with more detailed, high-definition pictures, fashion tips and total looks for them, as well as exceptional customer service.”
FN: How will the brand meet demands for merchandise availability?
EG: “Bugatchi has always produced and sold large quantities of merchandise in season to meet the demand of our customers. However, to forecast sales projections for our new site, we have used the data that we have obtained from our partner e-retailers that already sell our product online and analyzed that against our social media and website following. Websites are always about conversation, and based on the amount of people visiting our sites and following us, we can have an estimated guess on how many will convert into a sale.”
FN: What role will social-media marketing play in your online strategy?
EG: “There is absolutely nothing more important than social-media strategy because customers do not organically go to a website to buy clothing. Having them follow you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest allows you to always be marketing to them and acts as a catalyst to making a purchase on your website. Even more importantly, these days, is getting customers to sign up for your newsletter so that the first thing they see every day at 9 a.m. when they are checking their emails is Bugatchi. Bugatchi firmly believes that the future of the fashion business is constant contact marketing from all channels, including emails, social media, pay-per-click advertising, PR on other websites and magazines, and finally getting them on your website to make a purchase.”