Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Andrea
Image source: LUISAVIAROMA

Andrea Panconesi, the CEO of LUISAVIAROMA, doesn’t have an actual office at his headquarters, where young techies are clickety-clacking on their keyboards and processing thousands of orders from all over the world. When he isn’t traveling, he is roaming about the office – moving from the graphic department to the customer service desk, observing how his international business is progressing.

The grandson of the original Luisa Jaquin, Panconesi guided his grandmother’s company into the 21st century by jumping on the Internet wave as soon as it began to crest. As a result and through his online business, the United States and China are the family-run company’s top two markets.

“I adopted a lot from the Americans. In fact, the whole reason why we put Via Roma into the store’s name, is because I loved Saks Fifth Avenue so much. I implemented Via Roma to give the name more personality.”

Because of Panconesi, LUISAVIAROMA is still 100 % privately owned and has about 4 million clicks per day on the website. Today, Panconesi is working on enhancing the customer experience to make it both more social and virtual. The goal is to get as close as possible to touching the clothes inside the Luisa Via Roma store while sharing the charm and history founded by his grandmother in 1930.

Fairplay’s Editor-in-Chief Sofia Celeste sits down with the exuberant online executive in the hub of his Florentine Fashion Tech empire.

Sofia: What would your grandmother have said about this e-commerce business?

AP: She wouldn’t have been surprised. I came back from New York once, already married without telling anyone and she didn’t even bat an eyelash. It was very normal to them.

Sofia: They were used to being surprised by you?

AP: Probably (laughter).

Sofia: You said in a recent interview that the future of online shopping is neither physical nor an online shop? What did you mean by that?

AP: There has been such a dramatic change in the last ten years. Our strategy is not to open new stores in the future. I came to the conclusion that the future involves two parallel lines that get closer and closer until one day they come together. With the help of technology, I think you will be able to touch the clothes almost better than in a physical environment. The technology is there but the applications need to be developed. You will be able to feel like you are trying on a jacket at home. There will be no need to take out your car, park it, get into the city, and spend the whole day shopping.

Sofia: What is the main caveat of joining those two parallel but not yet intersecting lines?

AP: The problem is socializing. Online is lonely, there is no socializing. That is why all the social networks exist. The social networks try to link the web with the physical world and that will eventually be the same with e-commerce.

Sofia: Are you working on such a project for LUISAVIAROMA.COM?

AP: We have a strategy that I can’t tell you 100 % about, but hopefully we will realize the first example really soon. We are working on something along those lines, but we can’t reveal it yet. We want to bridge the gap between the web and the actual shop. Our strategy will involve combining physical shopping online and socializing at the same time, all in the context of e-commerce.

Sofia: Are you working with any big tech companies?

AP: Yes a lot. We first want to do a capsule to see the result and how people will react.

AP: We need to make the experience more social, like you are going with your friends. The shop will get closer and closer. You won’t have the jacket at home but you will have the technology that will make you feel like you do. You will still need something else with this technology and you will need a place where you can physicaly socialize. Otherwise, it will be a lonely experience.

Sofia: So, like Virtual Reality?

AP: Not yet, unfortunately the technology is not available for practical use yet. It will be a concept, but it will be a place where people can meet each other and integrate the virtual e-commerce with physical meeting, interpersonal interaction and socializing.

Sofia: Does it involve new technology that you are developing?

AP: The technology necessary to build the project is available to anybody. What is going to be the difference, is how you use technology. I think technology by itself is not going to be enough to fill the needs of the future advanced customers. They will want to experience something more, not just sitting at home doing their purchase.

Sofia: Do you enjoy online shopping more or do you enjoy going into a store?

AP: Forget what I enjoy. I look at what everyone else does. For example my children, I have one girl and boy around the same age – 17 to 20. The girl is more social, she loves to go to the shop and she is perfectly technologically advanced. She likes going to the shop for the beauty of it. My son doesn’t want to waste his time. He doesn’t bother to go to the shop. He buys everything from shirts to pants on the web.

AP: We have clients that buy from our website and they are 50 meters away from the shop. Maybe they buy at night, maybe they don’t like coming to the store, but they prefer shopping online. Others enjoy the aspect of socialization. We need to find a way to merge these two behaviors into one place where we can meet and use new technology. Which is what we have been doing for 10 or 15 years. We were one of the first to put the big screen in the store where any client with the help of the assistants can shop through the system, go on the website and get the size they need.

Sofia: Does this new tech capsule you are working on – have anything to do with what the new e-commerce features Facebook has introduced, for example?

AP: No. All these companies are missing the physical reality. They don’t have a shop. Our tradition is our shop and that is what is making us different.

Sofia: Do you ever define yourself as a boutique?

AP: The e-commerce reality is separate from the store. But we have the same buying team for both. We don’t take all the looks from one collection. We take a look and chose the top items from a collection and we pride ourselves on our selection process.

We have always been a specialty store. It is not comparable to a department store or a big e-commerce. We have a specialty store, which means that we blend all the brands together in a special way and something unique will come out.

Sofia: In what direction is Fashion and Tech moving, in your opinion?

AP: Suppliers of technology and people who use the service need to come together more. The Decoded Fashion Conference is very important and is making people aware by giving them the chance to meet physically. It’s one thing if the technology is presented to you online, but it is quite another if you have people presenting it to you face-to-face and speaking to you about their experiences.

This is why we have Firenze4Ever [the three day event that welcomes the world’s top bloggers and journalists to the Florentine stores and gives them the opportunity to photograph the latest collections].

The idea is to make everybody meet physically, twice a year, at the beginning of the fashion season. It is a moment where you are physically able to touch the collections you have seen six months before in the fashion show. At that moment, I want people that work with us from a marketing point of view, to meet with each other and with the tech people to help us develop our business. The bloggers need technology and these two moments of the year are magical. Firenze4Ever is a big marketing and communication event, where all the bloggers, magazines, journalists are invited. We also hold a Fashion Technology Summit where people from Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google are invited as well.

Andrea Panconesi will be sharing more insight about succeeding in e-commerce and LUISAVIAROMA’s journey at our Milan Summit on November 17-18. Join the conversation by booking your ticket here.

Guest Blog by Sofia Celeste FAIRPLAY Editor-in-Chief at

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Apple Pay
Image source: Apple Pay

Since the phenomenon of online shopping gained traction, retail analysts have long been predicting the demise of traditional bricks-and-mortar stores. But while some retailers have buckled under the pressure placed upon them by their online competitors, others continue to thrive despite their old-school approach to selling. Some formerly online-only retailers have ripped up the rule book and opened bricks-and-mortar stores after becoming successful on the web; brands like Bonobos, Nasty Gal and Warby Parker have all successfully injected their online presence into a tangible, real world setting.

Given our current financial climate, a good price is paramount. Even in the exclusive domain of luxury fashion, the popularity of discount sites like Yoox and The Outnet proves that consumers are increasingly concerned by cost. If e-commerce has the monopoly on bargains, how can traditional fashion retailers ever compete? Some have decided the answer is to use clever in-store tech in order to enhance the customer experience and, of course, to drive sales. Since technology and fashion are still growing together and learning to play nicely with each other, some stores’ approach to tech is rather gimmicky. Others, however, have got it just right. Here are some innovations worth implementing.

Body scanning to get the bespoke look

Selfridges was the first major retailer to introduce body scanners to its stores back in 2011. Since then, the slightly gimmicky, clunky concept of body scanning to achieve perfectly fitted outfits has become more sophisticated and impressive. Before creating a bespoke suit for a client, French tailor Les Nouveaux Ateliers invites them into one of its stores for a quick body scan, thus eliminating the lengthier (and slightly less accurate) processes of having your measurements taken by hand or having to send in your own measurements.

Faster payments; easier shopping experiences

Accepting NFC payments like Apple Pay helps to bring physical stores into the 21st century as well as making for a more efficient shopping experience. The trend for NFC payment has been bubbling under the surface for a while, but the fact that Apple has now endorsed it with Apple Pay is a likely sign that mobile payments will soon become commonplace amongst all types of retailers. A year since its launch, Apple Pay is growingly successful in the US; the service only launched this July in the UK, but retailers like Marks & Spencer, Liberty of London and New Look are already on board.

Analytics go offline

One of the e-tailer’s greatest advantages is their ability to easily track their customer’s buying habits and target them with appropriate marketing material. This invaluable data is much more complicated to track in physical stores, but analytics tools also have the potential to shake up the traditional shopping landscape. Some retailers have already experimented with heat mapping to track customers’ movements throughout their stores – an invaluable insight into people’s shopping habits and to see which products garner the most attention on the shop floor – and there is much scope for this sort of technology to develop.

Beating e-tailers’ delivery times

Barneys is following in Net-a-Porter’s footsteps by launching a same-day delivery service, giving its moneyed clientele the option for almost-instant gratification in the form of designer goods. At present, New York-based customers need to visit Barneys’ online store in order to set up a delivery slot, but the same-day delivery concept also has the potential to add a string to the bow of bricks-and-mortar retailers. While many customers will try on an item in-store and then buy it if they like it, others will go home to take time to think. Instead of having to return to the store at a later date if they eventually decide to buy the garment, it would be better if the customer had the option to simply call the retailer, or visit their website, to get that must-have item delivered there and then.

While many customers will try on an item in-store and then buy it if they like it, others will go home to take time to think. Instead of having to return to the store at a later date if they eventually decide to buy the garment, it would be better if the customer had the option to simply call the retailer, or visit their website, to get that must-have item delivered there and then.

Want to know more about how retailers are reimagining the possibilities of retail using tech? Join us next week at the Decoded Fashion New York Summit. Find out more here.

Reported by Grace Howard


“J. Crew’s Madewell brand is set to expand its global footprint. As of today, the denim label will extend its e-commerce distribution to more than 100 countries globally, across Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and South America.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Madewell

Image source: Sid Jatia

With experience at Razorfish, Electronic Arts and now sports apparel company of the moment Under Armour, Sid Jatia knows more than most about the development of a successful e-commerce and omnichannel strategy. Ahead of his appearance at our NYC Summit next month, we caught up with the Under Armour VP (Direct-to-Consumer/Digital) to thrash out what exactly a digital-first sensibility should mean in today’s retail landscape, and also to ask him to predict the technologies that could change the game altogether in the future.

Could you connect the dots between previous roles on your CV, and how they led to your current one at Under Armour?

The last 15 years of my life have had a very strong influence of Customer Experience and Technology, starting with the graduate programme at Parsons and a series of fortunate opportunities at Electronic Arts, Razorfish and now at Under Armour. Specifically in my tenure at Razorfish, I led several global retail and e-commerce clients through business transformation utilising technology as the great facilitator and customer centricity as the major outcome, whether it be optimising online businesses, creating new business models or making the hottest customer experience in a retail store.

What brought me to Under Armour was the forward-looking vision that was in the works around connected fitness and how a traditional manufacturer – now a retail and e-commerce player – can transcend to become all about the athlete’s (customer’s) goals vs. their own. On top of that, former clients and colleagues who now work at Under Armour have inspired me. Their swearing by the authenticity and fervour of the brand certified the decision for me.

In your view, what does it mean to have a digital-first sensibility in apparel retail today??

In my mind, digital first in apparel is all about putting the athlete as part of the conversation in the full lifecycle: design/manufacture →plan/buy → merchandise →shop→feedback. It doesn’t preach e-commerce over retail. It is all about enabling convenience and personalised experiences for our athletes.

On the more interesting side, this sensibility has given rise to a new category in apparel focused on ‘wearables’. Right now, this category is dominated by technology companies, but slowly we will see more and more retailers becoming the centrepiece of that conversation. A perfect example is what Tory Burch is doing with Fitbit, which makes perfect sense in my mind. It allows for two brands which have their own unique strengths to come together on a digital-first sensibility, and create great products for the marketplace.

You have a lot of experience in shaping omnichannel strategy. What are the biggest tools and techniques that retailers should be using to optimise their omnichannel output?

It’s extremely important for retailers to focus on what really matters for their customers, vs. all the things they could do. Stop the search for a perfect recipe of flawless customer experience across all channels, and focus on how each experience can become incrementally better. Can you bring efficiencies of online such as deep product information, peer validation and searchability to the store? Or can you bring immersive experiences to the web? But the ability to execute this is still limited due to organisation silos and workflows which have been designed for a non-omni world.

Looking ahead, which new technology do you think could be the biggest game changer for the retail landscape in the future?

Honestly, getting to scale in a retail setting is extremely challenging due to integration and operational challenges, so no one technology can really drastically change what retail is. But if I had to put my money on a couple of things, I would really give a closer look to sensor enablement in retail.

The current landscape is a little fragmented, with different types of sensors ranging from BLE to RFIDs to NFC – but once we figure out which sensors are versatile enough to be embedded in all products, and can be streamlined during the manufacturing process, it will give the products a brain of their own. When combined with native mobile phone capabilities on consumer devices, emerging interactive touch/gestural technologies in-store and the new age of content distribution systems, we might see a different face of retail sooner than we expect.

To hear more from Sid Jatia, book your ticket for the Decoded Fashion NYC Summit on October 28-29.

Reported by Claire Healy


“When James Reinhart started ThredUP six years ago, it was a site parents used to swap boxes of used children’s clothing. Then, in 2012, he tried an experiment: He sent a handful of his customers large bags and told them to put whatever clothes they didn’t want anymore into them. If they sent the bags back, he would buy what he wanted to resell on the site.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily -  ThreadUP

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Heals Digital Discovery
Image source: CloudTags

British furniture retailer Heal’s has just revealed the results of a year-long near-field communication (NFC) trial in its London flagship. The tablet-oriented Digital Discoveries service was part of a wider mission to understand consumer behaviour across all its platforms, and help shoppers move between them smoothly.

Oliver White, director of e-commerce, said: “While Heal’s has been excellent at understanding its customers’ behaviours on its website, in-store has admittedly been a real blind spot. Given most customers prefer to view in-store before purchasing online, it was essential to create a more seamless integration between their physical and digital spaces.”

Visitors can scan RFID (radio frequency identification) tags on products via in-store tablets to unlock additional information such as where the product was made, availability and complementary items. Selections can be added to a wish list and emailed for future reference.

The project also boosts connections to related marketing thanks to its underlying partnership with British ‘remarketing’ specialists CloudTags. When consumers click any of the product URLs in the wish-list emails, CloudTags is then able to re-engage them via targeted display ads on other sites.

Within the first week, 20% of customers used a tablet, 30% emailed themselves a wish list and 75-80% opened a link. Collaborating with UK-based real-time marketing platform Fast Thinking resulted in a click-through rate of 11% – 16 times greater than a standard online-only remarketing ad campaign. This contributed to 30% greater spend compared to Heal’s average online customer.

Heal’s partnered with Google’s Nexus on the tablets and is currently installing the NFC technology across its five other UK locations in preparation for the Christmas shopping season.

Guest post by Katie Baron


“Like Warby Parker and AYR before it, flash sale site Gilt is the latest e-commerce startup bringing its customers some real-world action in the form of a shoppable showroom, conveniently (and rather economically) located in its Manhattan headquarters.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Gilt

“Modern day entrepreneurs face a unique dilemma when trying to break into the marketplace: what if their product is not artisanal enough? Thanks to Etsy, which enforces strict maker requirements about the items sold through its platform, e-commerce has seen a resurgence of handmade products. “

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily -  Tictail

“Shopping online for clothes can be a real pain, especially when you’re searching for something very specific. Sure, most retailers have filters for tops, pants, dresses, etc., but most don’t get any more granular than that.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily -  Donde

“Indian ecommerce site Snapdeal today announced that it secured US$500 million in an investment round led by Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn, and Japanese telco major SoftBank. Existing investors Temasek, BlackRock, Myriad, and Premji Invest also participated in this round. Last year, the startup raised US$627 million from SoftBank.”

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Decoded Fashion - Fashion Tech Daily - Snapdeal x SoftBank
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