Marc Rosen, executive vice-president and president of global ecommerce at Levi Strauss, tells Drapers about the heritage denim brand’s new virtual fitting room and keeping up with customers.
Why is it so important that heritage brands such as Levi’s continue to innovate in the digital sphere?
Levi Strauss & Co made the first pair of blue jeans more than 145 years ago, but the way to stay relevant as a brand is to continually reinvent yourself to the consumer. Obviously, in this marketplace the consumer is becoming increasingly digital and, as they become increasingly digital, that’s the way we have to connect with them.
Being relevant to them is really important, so we have invested heavily in our direct-to-consumer business and in our digital business. The digital transformation has given brands an opportunity to have a direct relationship with consumers that we really haven’t had before.
Where has Levi’s focused its digital investment?
Our investment has really been around personalisation, fit and style. We know that the best fit and style experience comes from one of our stores, when customers work with one of our stylists. They are going to look at the customer and have a conversation with them about what they’re looking for.
The best fit and style experience comes from one of our stores
The question was: “How do we replicate that online?” Having been in retail and technology for a long time, I think we are at a really interesting point where a lot of the technologies that are coming out around artificial intelligence, machine learning and chat are converging with fit and style solutions.
The ecommerce and the digital side of the business is really the start-up within, so our job is to go fast. We want to try a lot of things, we want to get things in front of customers and make a call on if they are working. If so, we’re going to invest big. If it’s not, then we’re going to cut our losses and learn from that.
One of the things we’ve been testing over the past six months is our virtual fitting room. The next thing with fit and style is really about customers being able to see the product on a body like theirs. [The virtual fitting room] is an artificial intelligence (AI) and visualisation solution. We say, “Tell us a little bit of information about yourself – your height, your weight, your waist size, and we’ll create an avatar that looks like you.” Then, you can see product and fit suggestions on a body like yours.
The hard part about fit on a product like ours is that we have a lot of different styles that are built for different bodies, but it can be hard for the consumer to tell – they may have a style that fits them in the waist but actually the thigh is too tight and there’s not a way to tell that without the visualisation. We saw really positive lift from consumers who used it and we’ll be rolling it out over the summer.
How has Levi’s used personalisation?
One of the beauties of the Levi’s brand is that it is really well known and well trusted. Customers are willing to have a relationship with us, so we have to take advantage of that and understand what they want, what their preferences are and ultimately understand what is in their closet.
The virtual fitting room is an artificial intelligence and visualisation solution
It is about personalising communication with relevant stories and we’re now working on allowing customers to see a different homepage when you come to a site, depending on their interests.
Our virtual stylist, Indigo, is also able to help with outfitting solutions.
How quickly are consumers’ expectations changing?
Expectations are changing almost every second. Consumers now expect everything to be mobile, and we even see them interacting with their device in store. Ultimately, the biggest difference is that consumers are much more in control of their journey then they ever were before.
How can retailers make sure they use data effectively?
The challenge for everybody is, now that there’s so much information, how do you know what is really relevant and put that together in a meaningful way that’s going to drive conversion and sales?
This year’s Drapers Fashion Forum will look to the future and investigate what the fashion retail landscape will look like in a year, five years or even 10 years: what retailers will be focusing on and investing in; adapting organisational structures; streamlining supply chain and back-end operations; how the store will function alongside digital platforms; how consumers will be shopping and on what platforms; and, ultimately, how retailers can future-proof their business to survive and thrive.