If current success is anything to go by, Drapers’ 30 under 30 alumnus from 2014 Lewis Hamilton, head of ecommerce at British shirtmaker Turnbull & Asser, is on a trajectory all the way to the boardroom.
Working in a small business means you get involved in so many different aspects. I work with a team of four ecommerce people in London and two in New York. Every six to eight weeks, I travel to New York for in-depth meetings with the US team commercial director to discuss how we are representing the brand online in the US market. I also meet with the UK merchandising and buying teams on a bi-weekly basis to tweak the website according to sales, trends and performance.
I’m working on the development of our new website, which is expected to launch in October before peak season. I speak daily and meet weekly with our creative agency Poke to discuss progress. Our goal is to give the website a refresh to make it reflective of our brand story, integrating a wealth of content with an immersive shopping experience. Content and commerce will be combined to showcase the brand and product, focusing on the fabrics, composition and source of our products. Film, extensive copy and imagery will all aid this process.
We also want to change the way we photograph our product to offer more detail. Every week I’m chatting to our external photography studio in London and our in-house studio in New York. We have more than 1,500 products to shoot ready for the website relaunch, so it’s a big job.
Working alongside our marketing team, I’m responsible for our social media and the tone of voice online. I’ve never seen social as a monetised platform and unlike high street players we don’t use social media for a hard sales push. For us it’s more about talking about the detailing, the production process behind the scenes and our colour inspiration. Instagram is the most engaging platform; you can be much more adventurous with the images you use.
I fell into retail at 17, when a got a job working in the fitting room in Topman in Milton Keynes in 2004. It was there that I became hooked on retail, so I decided to join the Topshop and Topman management training programme in 2005. As part of the programme, the people who showed the most interest were given the opportunity to spend two weeks at Arcadia head office. I ended up working with the creative team and creative studio manager Emma Murphy took me under her wing. I stayed for a month and Emma identified a role for me within the ecommerce department as an online content assistant in 2006. By the time I left in 2011 for Hackett I was senior content co-ordinator.
At Hackett I worked as a digital creative, content and project manager, looking after the launch of its new website. From there I moved upwards to head of ecommerce at Duchamp in 2013. This was an opportunity to get a more well-rounded experience and in this role I was able to help grow business online by 45% year on year. I did this by implementing a change in strategy and focusing on user experience, by emailing relevant content to the right people at the right time and ensuring we utilised all channels. For me the progression to head of ecommerce at Turnbull & Asser in 2014 felt very natural. Working with smaller brands, it’s possible to make a real impact and get familiar with the entire business, which is difficult at a big multinational.
From the outside people might think that a Jermyn Street brand like Turnbull & Asser is a bit dusty, but I’ve never had such busy days. I want to take the role and evolve it. Our managing director, Nigel Blow, is a brilliant leader and a good motivator. It’s exciting to be at a brand where things happen.
It would be great if the chief executives of the future came from an ecommerce background. I think someone in a role as head of multichannel is likely to end up as a CEO. I think working in ecommerce gives you an understanding of every aspect of the business. Whereas now not many CEOs have a digital background due to the era they were brought up in, in 10 years’ time that won’t be the case.
My advice is to take opportunities and say yes if it sounds like the right thing. Do something different and take a risk; that’s what got me to where I am today.
In the next five to 10 years it would be great to become a director or managing director. CEO is definitely on the agenda. I would like to stay in the luxury environment as it’s where I feel at home, but I have a lot more to learn. In luxury you have a really complex customer profile and it’s harder to get the sale, but I enjoy that.
My alternative career would be working with my dad in the hospitality industry as I enjoy talking to people and having a close relationship with the end customer. I also used to be a house and indie DJ from 2005 to 2013. I organised and promoted my own nights, created the artwork and liaised with DJs and venues.
2014 Head of ecommerce, Turnbull & Asser
2013 Head of ecommerce, Duchamp
2011 Digital, creative content and project manager, Hackett
2006 Senior online content co-ordinator, Topshop/Topman
2005 Brand manager, management programme, Topshop/Topman