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What Fashion’s E-Commerce and Tech Professionals Need to Know Today

BoF Careers provides essential sector insights for fashion’s e-commerce and technology professionals this month, to help you decode fashion’s creative and commercial landscape.
E-commerce operations manager working on laptop.
E-commerce operations manager working on laptop. (Pexels)

Discover the most relevant industry news and insights for fashion’s e-commerce and technology professionals, updated each month to enable you to excel in job interviews, promotion conversations or perform better in the workplace by increasing your market awareness and emulating market leaders.

BoF Careers distils business intelligence from across the breadth of our content — editorial briefings, newsletters, case studies, podcasts and events — to deliver key takeaways and learnings tailored to your job function, listed alongside a selection of the most exciting live jobs advertised by BoF Careers partners.

Key articles and need-to-know insights for e-commerce and technology professionals today:

1. Inside the Battle to Run Fashion’s E-Commerce

"Shopify" appears numerous times in the lines of code underlying Supreme's website.

As online shopping has become a larger slice of retail, it’s given rise to an industry of e-commerce firms that promise brands and retailers a fast, friction-free and seamless experience for their customers across channels and countries. Along with Shopify, there’s Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud, Adobe’s Magento, Farfetch’s FPS, BigCommerce and others. Each offers different features, but all are vying for the opportunity to do the heavy lifting on the backend, allowing brands and retailers to focus on making and marketing products.

To draw clients, e-commerce companies keep bolting on new offerings, such as better storefront capabilities, logistics solutions and other options. [...] But what ends up distinguishing one platform from another tends to be its flexibility and how much developer effort is required on the brand’s end, according to Ryan Foster, a director at e-commerce agency Fostr, which specialises in advising fashion and luxury brands on Shopify Plus.

Related Jobs:

E-Commerce Assistant, House of Hackney — London, United Kingdom

Business Analyst Salesforce, Tiffany & Co. — Parsippany, United States

E-Commerce Operations Director, Zimmermann — Sydney, Australia

2. The Trouble With Luxury E-Commerce

From more niche players to e-commerce giants, the pressure remains high for luxury e-tailers.

Long-standing challenges for luxury’s digital retailers such as securing inventory from A-list brands, the high costs of maintaining logistics and technology platforms, and fierce price competition due to instantaneous comparison shopping show no signs of abating. And those challenges are harder to paper over in an economy where investment capital has become more scarce and borrowing has grown more expensive.

Pivoting to e-concessions — in which brands pay commissions for sales through virtual “shop-in-shops”, but hold stocks themselves — is one way e-tailers are evolving their approach to cope with cash shortages and competition from brands’ direct channels. While top-line revenues from commissions are lower for each sale, profitability can be higher as e-tailers dodge inventory risk.

Related Jobs:

E-Commerce Assistant, DeMellier — London, United Kingdom

Senior Frontend Engineer, Vestiaire Collective — New York, United States

E-Commerce Manager, Chalhoub Group — Dubai, United Arab Emirates

3. How Luxury Is Using Augmented Reality

Three panels in the image show Cartier's Snapchat campaign featuring its Tank watch at different points in history.

At the moment, AR is still far from perfect. It can have difficulty mapping to a user’s body and its sensitivity to factors like the lighting in a user’s environment can make it glitchy at moments. AR objects also often look more cartoonish than realistic. But it’s rapidly progressing as wireless internet speeds rise and smartphone cameras keep improving.

[Farfetch’s chief executive José Neves] and [head of luxury at Snap, Geoffrey Perez,] both noted that AR can boost conversion rates for categories like sneakers, watches and beauty. One particularly strong example, according to Perez, was when Dior used virtual try-on on Snapchat to promote the launch of its B27 sneaker. It generated $6 in sales for every $1 in advertising spend, he said.

Related Jobs:

Senior Specialist E-Store Management, Prada — Milan, Italy

Senior Cloud Engineer, Tory Burch — Jersey City, United States

Retail IT Operations Manager, Kering — Tokyo, Japan

4. Fashion’s Dreams for ChatGPT

Supercharged chatbots, hyper-personalised marketing copy and new ways for shoppers to discover fashion online are just a few of the dream applications for ChatGPT and similar AI models.

ChatGPT is a type of AI called a large language model. They are trained on huge volumes of data — plus some fine-tuning by human supervisors in ChatGPT’s case — and what makes them noteworthy is their ability to perform an array of different tasks. Right now, the data a model like ChatGPT is trained on tends to be whatever is publicly accessible online, but where they arguably hold the greatest potential for businesses is when companies start merging the tools with their own data, creating much more specific applications.

If conversational AI begins to change how people search online, it could shift the way shoppers discover new products. Instead of searching for, say, “best running sneakers 2023″ and then looking at lists compiled by different sites, a customer might just expect the search engine to digest all the information out there and provide an answer directly.

Related Jobs:

E-Commerce and Content Intern, Invisible Collection — Paris, France

Senior Manager Global Customer Engagement Digital Products and Projects, Hugo Boss — Stuttgart, Germany

Customer Experience Initiatives Specialist, Bloomingdale’s — Long Island City, United States

5. Is Luxury Set for Resale-Ready Products?

An image of a phone hovering over a white handbag showing an example of one of digital product IDs Chloé is road testing.

Digital IDs are seen as a game-changer for efforts to shift shoppers to more responsible forms of consumption and big brands to better business models. The idea is that simply by scanning a QR code consumers could get access to detailed information about the eco-credentials of their clothes and instructions for care and repair. In the same way, brands could link their customers to resale sites and, eventually, recycling solutions, smoothing out kinks that currently mean so many clothes end up in landfills.

But while plenty of brands are exploring the technology, rollout has been slow and relatively limited in its focus. Part of the challenge is that, while the technology needed to roll out digital product labels is simple enough, gathering the data needed to support them is not. Really delivering on ambitions to unlock more transparent and circular business models requires brands to get a handle on their full supply chain and start collecting a range of technical data on environmental impact. Most currently have very limited visibility beyond their manufacturers.

Related Jobs:

Support Engineer, The Fold — London, United Kingdom

Digital Merchandising Manager, Dorothee Schumacher — Mannheim, Germany

Site Operations Assistant, Neiman Marcus — Irving, United States

6. Mytheresa Growth Slows, Profits Narrow Amid Challenges For E-Tailers

An image from Mytheresa's 2022 Festive Campaign.

Growth at Mytheresa slowed significantly last quarter, as aspirational customers feeling the pinch from inflation pulled back on spending during the holidays, CEO Michael Kliger said. [...] The results come as players across the luxury e-commerce sector face mounting pressures, including fierce competition, the return of in-person shopping, and rising interest rates that have made investment capital more expensive.

Mytheresa has worked to differentiate itself from rivals by putting a greater emphasis on growing profitably. The company says its able to maintain higher margins than rivals by nurturing relationships with a more targetted pool of wealthy fashion lovers. Still, shares in the company have fallen about 30 percent over the past 12 months, mirroring a broader sell-off in e-commerce.

Related Jobs:

Director of E-Commerce, Homiés Marbella — Marbella, Spain

Senior Security Analyst, Tapestry — New York, United States

E-Commerce Specialist, PVH — Istanbul, Turkey

7. BoF Insights | Why Ownership Matters to NFT Shoppers

Some of the MetaBirkins.

[In February], a federal jury in New York ruled in favour of Hermès after determining that Rothschild’s “MetaBirkin” non-fungible tokens (NFTs) were an infringement on the fashion house’s trademark of its Birkin bag and did not qualify under US law as artistic expression protected under free speech, as Rothschild argued. Whether consumers were indeed duped will remain an open debate, but what is clear is this [has] heightened consumer awareness of the concept of digital ownership.

In a survey of consumers aged 15 to 56 in the US conducted by luxury research firm Altiant on behalf of BoF Insights, about two-thirds of the respondents rated digital ownership as important. As blockchain-based assets become more mainstream, fashion brands can expect the importance of ownership to only grow even more among their consumers and to start crafting digital strategies now to reflect that.

Related Jobs:

Solution Architect, Scotch & Soda — Hoofddorp, Netherlands

Senior Coordinator Digital Assets and Information, Calvin Klein — New York, United States

Digital Operations Assistant, Ralph Lauren — Long Island City, United States

8. Why Fashion Is Taking Video Games Seriously

A figure covered in a graphic print stands in front of a pool in a digital image.

Today, games aren’t just entertainment. They’re a cultural force in their own right. The kids who grew up with the first home consoles are now older adults with disposable income and fond memories of playing their favourite titles. To younger generations, whose media diets are as much YouTube and Twitch as television, games are on equal footing with music and movies. Recently, [Deloitte] found watching TV and movies at home was still the favourite entertainment activity of older groups, but not for Gen-Z.

This game-loving generation comprises a growing share of fashion sales. In its 2022 luxury market recap, for instance, Bain & Company noted that Millennials and Gen-Z were behind all the growth in the market last year, and that the “spending of Gen-Z and the even younger Generation Alpha is set to grow three times faster than other generations’ through 2030, making up a third of the market,” the authors wrote.

Related Jobs:

Business Services Platform Operations Coordinator, Burberry — Leeds, United Kingdom

IT Direct-to-Consumer Oracle Specialist, Ermenegildo Zegna Group — Stabio, Switzerland

E-Commerce Manager, Heliot Emil — Copenhagen, Denmark

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