Retailer Innovators Aim to Disrupt Market

In today’s environment, retailers must be nimble and create a culture of “disruption” within their companies.

That was the message from five panelists at a discussion hosted by Fashion Group International Friday morning.

“A hierarchical structure doesn’t work anymore. You need to surround yourself with a team that is going to stand toe to toe and challenge you everyday,” said Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN, Inc., one of the traditional retailers reimagining its brand and place in the market. 

Jennifer Hyman, founder of Rent the Runway, agreed, explaining the disruptive culture in the workplace was partly created from the CEO and partly by listening to untraditional sources for information, such as the millennial hire or someone in the warehouse. “The people close to the product always have the best ideas,” she said.

Another key point in the conversation was the ability to respond quickly to the consumers, addressing where they are and realizing when it’s time to move onto the next project.

David Jaffe, president and CEO of the Ascena Retail Group Inc, which owns Lane Bryant and Maurice’s among other stores, said that by leveraging experience and best practices from each of its brands, the company has been able to efficiently create a consumer-friendly e-commerce platform.

“You always have to be customer centric and invest in the innovation,” Jaffe said. “You have to pivot between short-term demands and the three to five year plan.”

Other panelists included Neil Blumenthal, co-CEO and co-founder of Warby Parker; former Liz Claiborne CEO Paul Charron; and Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO of Shapeways, a 3D printing company.

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