10 Minutes with Krissie Millan, VP of Innovation at Rebecca Minkoff

Written on 26 June, 2017 by Iona Yeung
Categories News

Length: 10-15 min read

Some of the hottest and most disruptive retailers in the world will be flying to Sydney to speak at the Online Retailer event this year, including Krissie Millan, VP of Innovation at Rebecca Minkoff. In this quick Q&A, Rebecca shares what it takes to be a disruptor in online retail, how to cultivate innovation and what bricks and mortar stores should be doing to stay competitive.

1. Tell us a bit about you and your background?

My background has been focused on innovation, digital, and strategy. I was at McKinsey for the first 10 years of my career, advising Fortune 500 companies in consumer-related and retail sectors on growth and digital strategies.  I spent the last 5 years in the luxury/retail sector, focused on the digital space. At Rebecca Minkoff, I lead and manage customer experience across digital channels, including our store technology.


2. Rebecca Minkoff has been disrupting the fashion industry for a while. What does it mean these days to be a REAL disruptor?

At Rebecca Minkoff, we define disruption as questioning current approaches and practices in the industry, and defining ways to do them differently or more efficiently – all to serve a better experience for our customer. It’s identifying an unmet need and identifying new ways, through tools, technology, channels, and business models to engage our customer and deliver our brand proposition.

It’s also about being fearless to do things that have not been done before, or to approach things differently, if it means meeting our customers’ ever-changing needs.

3. How is a culture of innovation like yours infused and developed into a business?

It starts from the top. Our founders, both Rebecca and Uri, have infused our brand with the spirit of innovation. It started at the inception of the brand, when Rebecca had a clear understanding of who her core customer was. 10 years ago, while most brands had developed a more arms-length approach to communicating with their customers, Rebecca decided to take a more innovative approach. She used social media as a way to get as close as she could to her customers and develop a deeper, more personal relationship with them. Since then, innovation has played a large part in how we evaluate every initiative. Innovation is also about not being afraid to make mistakes – and to learn from mistakes. It’s about testing and iterating, knowing that, in some cases, the value is what we learn from trying.

It’s not always easy – at the end of the day, we are still a growing business – but this mindset is deeply ingrained in the organisation. We always look at each initiative or project through a questioning lens, and identify any better, newer, different ways for us to achieve the same goal.

4. Bricks and mortar is drastically changing. What do you think retailers need to do in-store if they want to survive in this competitive landscape?

Connecting offline and online customer experiences is all the more critical today. Omni-channel is such an over-used word, but at its heart, it is really about blurring the lines between a brick and mortar channel vs. an online channel. Customers view brands as one entity, so there has to be consistency in the way we provide experiences. As mobile is a core part of customers’ lives, building and integrating mobile experiences in the stores can provide an advantage. And as instant gratification has become the norm, stores should also rethink of how they can offer convenience and relevance to the customer journey, especially in the digital age. Retailers need to think beyond the physical boundaries of their stores and think holistically about providing a consistent brand experience, regardless of channel.

5. How has technology been used at Rebecca Minkoff to get closer to the consumers and to bring online and offline together?

We built our store technology around the goal of providing customers with a consistent shopping experience by leveraging some of our digital experiences. Our enhanced fitting room mirrors, for example, recognise the items customers bring in (via RFID), and provide options such as sizes, colour, or other pieces that go with these items.

Our Connected Wall has livestreamed our fashion show to our stores (at the same time it is being livestreamed online), which has also generated strong interest for our See Now Buy Now collections. Besides the customer experience, these technologies have also enabled us to learn more about our customer in different ways. The Connected Wall captures mobile numbers to enable the customer to save and send their fitting room session.

We get some good insights on product based on what customers bring into the fitting room: what styles and colours they want, what sizes, what they end up buying vs not buying. As we capture more information about customer behaviour, we will be able to communicate with them in a more targeted and personalised way.

6. Tell us more about how you have used social and community integration to increase your customer experience.

Social has always been part of our brand story. We use our social channels to share different aspects of Rebecca’s life: from her kids to her style inspirations, her day-to-day activities, the causes she believes in — parts of her life that our customers relate to. We also use social to create a stronger sense of community from something as simple as creating brand or campaign hashtags (#myrm, #rmgoesgrove) and selecting UGC (user generated content) to feature on the site and digital channels.

7. I heard that you have introduced “smart” products to keep up with the #borndigital wardrobe trend. Tell us more about this concept and how it is linked to ecommerce, loyalty etc.

In keeping with our strategy of developing and launching “smart” and innovative products, one of the things we launched this year was our #alwayson bags, in partnership with Avery Dennison and Evrythng. During our Fashion Show in Los Angeles in February this year, we created ten limited edition “smart” bags that had a hangtag, which, when scanned, unlocked a “golden ticket” to the SS17 Rebecca Minkoff Show. This was a precursor to the larger effort we’re making with all our handbags later this year in which each bag will have a tag that unlocks exclusive experiences, content, and offers for our customers.  This effort will also provide us with customer data to help us understand how our customers are using these bags, and help us to market to them better. In turn, the more our customers use their bags, the more exclusive the content and offers they receive. This provides our customers with a stronger post-purchase experience, in a more targeted way, and enables us to connect with our customers even more.

8. Everyone is talking about millennials, artificial intelligence, conversational commerce, etc. What do you think the future of retail will look like?

Artificial intelligence is an important tool, especially in regards to personalisation. In a world where there is a proliferation of choice, a more personalised, relevant message at the right time is a critical lever. Conversational commerce is interesting in the world of engaging content and customer experience/service. In the future, there will likely be even more integration between retail and technology. Winners in the space will be those who put customers at the centre, as retail always looks for ways to be part of the customers’ changing shopping behaviour.

9. And what is next for Rebecca Minkoff?

More innovations ahead in digital commerce, customer strategy and experience, community, and store technology. Stay tuned!

10. Can you share your top eCommerce tip for success in the future?

It starts with the customer. Put your customer at the centre of your ecosystem and your roadmap, and your digital and technology initiatives will fall into place. Don’t be afraid to try new things; there is much value to be had in testing and learning.

If you want to hear from Krissie, she will be speaking at Online Retailer on July 26th where she will share her holistic approach to the future of retail.

Don’t miss Krissie’s FREE keynote session on July 26th at Online Retailer. Register for FREE here or if you want to find out how to book your ticket to access other industry leading speakers, visit our website for more information.


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