“The way we operate our business has to change.”
Here are four things the exec is doing to shake things up.
1. The Drop Event: “How do we experiment beyond the four walls of retail?” That’s what Vitale and the Barneys team pondered as they dreamed up thedrop@barneys, which will launch at the New York flagship this weekend.
It will feature 30 exclusive capsule collections and product drops, designer appearances and unique in-store activations. “We’ll have personal appearances, food and even a tattoo artist,” said Vitale, who noted the entire company worked on the initiative together.
The initial response has been strong: Of the consumers who expressed interest online, 60 percent were women and 50 percent were new consumers. “These are the things we need to move on,” Vitale said.
2. Unique Vendor Partnerships: During New York Fashion Week, Barneys partnered with Birkenstock on “The Box,” a shipping container-turned-pop-up store in the Meatpacking District featuring exclusive styles from Birkenstock and other brands.
“They are an incredibly talented company and were willing to do things they hadn’t done before,” Vitale said. The project attracted both loyal Barneys shoppers and a host of new consumers.
3. Data First: “Data has probably been the biggest point of contention in our company,” Vitale said. “The company felt it would make it less or creative or too rigid. But it allows us to make much more informed decisions. It’s about what best for our customer.”
Sales associates now regularly tap into the Barneys app, where they can access consumer preferences and recommend product. “We have to bring technology into physical stores. We used to think efficiency can’t be service, but it’s really part of the service experience,” Vitale said.
Online, personalization has been a major boon for Barneys. “We identified that a couple of years ago, and now it’s 12 to 15 percent of our online business. It’s growing 25 percent year over year.”
4. Internal Renewal: In addition to Barneys’ laser focus on the shopper, Vitale has been emphasizing “internal renewal.” “Every division within the company becomes a ‘giving house’ and receives money to give away to charity,” the CEO said.
The catch? Everyone has to have input about which cause they want to support. But it goes beyond donations. “Many of our teams are going out and spending time in the community,” she said.