When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, fashion brands and retailers alike scrambled to find new ways to facilitate the wholesale buying process as showrooms closed. One B2B platform already had the tools in place to support this digital transformation, and isn’t afraid to keep reinventing itself.
With a network of over 12,500 brands and more than 300,000 curated retailers in 144 countries, JOOR had a singular focus on maintaining business continuity for all parties accessing its platform. But to add real value, the company set out a goal to not just replicate, but actually reimagine the showroom experience, according to CEO Kristin Savilia.
As an early adopter of the virtual showroom concept, JOOR is used to facilitating connections at all times of the year, bucking the traditional “buying calendar” to do so. The platform is designed to eliminate the barriers of the wholesale process by enabling brands to work with any retailer they do business with. Access to the platform is free for the retailers that partner with brands that are already on JOOR.
JOOR, which hosts leading brands in the luxury space such as LVMH, Kering and Richemont as well as retailers including Harrod’s, ShopBop, Neiman Marcus, Harvey Nichols and Level Shoes, among many others, is no stranger to facilitating transactions either, handling over $1.5 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV) each month and overseeing the sale of more than 100 million products in 2020.
One such luxury women’s footwear and accessories brand, Loeffler Randall, relies heavily on JOOR to streamline what is conventionally a laborious merchandising process, whether it is producing linesheets, creating and processing orders, or collaborating with clients on their assortments both during and after market appointments.
Since the brand already had been working with JOOR in early 2020, the company was comfortable in shifting to fully virtual market appointments within the platform once the pandemic took meetings online, according to Jessica Peek, vice president global sales and e-commerce at Loeffler Randall.
“Now that our team and our clients have adjusted to this new way of doing things, we’re seeing more accounts using the platform for order submissions and placing orders sooner in the market timeline,” Peek said. “A silver lining has definitely been a streamlined and expedited ordering process, making it possible for us to react to early insights from market. We plan on continuing to develop these top-notch digital presentations and further efficiencies provided by JOOR, even when we are able to safely welcome buyers back in person.”
When the pandemic hit, JOOR was well positioned to add advanced features quickly within its virtual showroom so brands could develop personalized experiences. This included rich content such as lifelike 360-degree imagery powered by ORB360, and a collaboration feature called The Edit, a styleout function where brands can visually collaborate with their buyers and edit assortments down to final selections. The changes were designed to make the platform feel more like a B2C e-commerce site that treated retail buyers like shoppers.
“JOOR has provided a simplified way to view product,” said Jodi Kahn, senior director, divisional merchandising manager of fine apparel at Neiman Marcus. “There are typically great images of each style and the new video feature has proven to be quite successful in helping to see how the silhouette moves, drapes on the body, etc. The images allow for us to put together style boards to see a cohesive picture of what our buy will look like.”
Kahn said the JOOR platform has given the luxury department store distinct advantages in the buying process when compared with trying to manage the process without the help of a digital portal. For one, the portal has kept the retailer-brand connection alive even if the parties never meet in person.
“Brand relationships are one of the pillars of success at Neiman Marcus,” Kahn said. “Our brands know the Neiman Marcus customer very well and we trust that although we cannot see the product in person, our brands will help guide us in the best direction. JOOR has helped streamline the process and is a great platform to collaborate with our brand partners to find all of the right styles to curate the best assortment.”
For both brands and retailers alike, the digital transformation journey has not been easy, particularly since companies must rely almost entirely on digital content instead of accessing a showroom with products clearly on display. Additionally, buying and selling teams are often stuck on long, repetitive video calls. Loeffler Randall’s Peek credits JOOR for being able to provide sales and merchandising teams with access to real-time data and images and with a respite from the monotony.
“Buying teams are fatigued from non-stop video calls, so we have been working each season to make the most compelling assets we can to capture the more hands-on and tactile experience of in person appointments,” Peek said. “For us, JOOR is what takes everyone’s hard work across the finish line. The platform is the hub in keeping the buyers connected to us on their own time, providing on demand reporting, and ensuring all of the assets and information we have created is accessible, digestible and current.”
To ensure brands have every bit of data they need to develop their retail relationships, JOOR also offers a flexible reporting suite for brands that provides insights on best-selling styles, order counts, production volumes and inventory—all updated in real time. Brands can display current inventory available to fulfill the immediate needs of retailers on the marketplace.
JOOR Passport brings events online 24/7
In May 2020, the platform introduced JOOR Passport, a 365-day-per-year marketplace catering to both today’s market conditions of restricted travel as well as the post-pandemic era when physical events are expected to resume. JOOR Passport centralizes the trade show and fashion week experience by creating a one-stop shop for users: one place to log in, one website to visit, one app to download and one comprehensive experience.
JOOR worked quickly in getting the marketplace up to speed with the digital events ecosystem. In 2020, the platform hosted 17 global events on JOOR Passport, attracting more than 140,000 visitors from 130 countries. From the brand side, more than 1,600 brands participated in a JOOR Passport event, with more than 500,000 items sold.
JOOR Passport is now exclusively powering 16 dynamic global fashion events during the current season, including London Fashion Week, Cabana and Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo.
“We expect that when in-person shows return, they will maintain a virtual component as a way of extending the life of the event and expanding their reach,” Savilia told Sourcing Journal. “JOOR Passport will be the solution of choice to enable a multi-week marketplace, expanding a show’s global audience, reducing the industry’s carbon footprint and offering the convenience brands and buyers have come to expect.”
In 2020, JOOR dug its heels into a new field: payments. The marketplace introduced JOOR Payments to facilitate seamless online bulk invoicing and on-platform payment processing, adding even greater ease and efficiency to the online buying experience. This week, they announced the addition of SEPA and ACH to allow for seamless bank transfers, which account for over 50 percent of wholesale transactions.
With a full slate of features on deck, JOOR is set to take the digital wholesale experience to a new level, even in a post-pandemic world.
“Digital transformation is not something that can wait,” Savilia affirmed. “The companies who were ahead in this area are proving resilient in the face of the pandemic; others are scrambling to catch up. Once brands and retailers join JOOR, they see the benefits of collaborative commerce as real-time data flows within a single ecosystem. So the biggest lesson for us is something we already knew as a company—choosing a fully digital ecosystem is best for the advancement of both brands and retailers.”