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Combining art and technology: Farfetch CMO on generating consumer demand

Luxury etailer Farfetch has named its former senior vice-president of digital marketing John Veichmanis as its new chief marketing officer, replacing former post holder Stephanie Horton. Drapers spoke with Veichmanis about his technology-driven strategy.

Q. How do you plan to apply your experience in the technology industry to the business?

The chief marketing officer role is becoming more tech-driven. It’s now at the core of brand marketing and acquisitions. I have spent more than 20 years working at companies such as Dell, Apple, Skype and Expedia, looking at retail in Europe. This appreciation of technology is key to building a successful marketing strategy.

By building our tech capabilities, we will be able to find new customers and curate and personalise our storytelling. We are finding that large segments of consumers in the millennial generation are hugely interested in the back story of collections and understanding the craft that goes into products.

It can also be used to balance the needs of the business. There is huge demand around speed and how quickly products can be delivered and returned. On the other hand, luxury by definition takes time to curate. It’s not something that can be rushed.

Q. What’s on your to-do list?

One of the key focal areas for my team is building demand – we served our millionth customer in August and we’re aiming to add 650,000 customers this year. We want to keep the pace of growth in check and generate demand from every corner of the world.

As part of this, we are focusing on expanding into new mediums, working across as many multimedia channels as possible. We are investing in paid search campaigns, exploring advertising and partnership opportunities and making a push to increase our social media presence.

Another area of importance is building our brand and increasing awareness. We do not want to be perceived as a retailer, but as a platform that connects consumers with curators. It’s about providing that one item that no one else has, that represents the consumer as an individual.

Q. What’s your strategy for the team?

I oversee a team of 130 people in total, but would like to increase this to 160 by the end of the year.

Our team combines several different disciplines – we range from art directors to artificial intelligence specialists and data analysts.

We have plans to expand across all our functions. We are investing in our data analytics team and are currently recruiting to enhance these capabilities.

We will also continue to invest in our editorial content offering and in our shoppable content. On the social media side, we particularly want to figure out how to make our products more shoppable on Instagram, which is a huge area of interest for our customers.

Q. What are the challenges ahead? 

From a marketing perspective, it is challenging to engage not just a niche audience but a wholly different audience, on a global scale. For us, it’s about exploring how we apply technology not only to drive sales but also to classic brand building.

Often you find in the digital marketing industry that a brand’s storytelling is weak – the same adverts and same creatives. This is never effective. We want to avoid this by trying to understand how to adapt technology to find potential consumers interested in luxury, and to make it a more personalised experience. The challenge is combining our love of the creative arts with our love of developing technology to allow us to tell interesting stories.

As demand continues to be driven by the generational shift towards millennials, the key aim is to use data to make their shopping experiences more personalised. 


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