Sam Lowe is the Chief Technology Officer and head of technology at MatchesFashion.com, one of the most exciting and fastest-growing e-commerce destinations globally. At our London Summit, Sam will be talking through the tech journey of the company, offering insight into how business model innovation and improved customer experience can be achieved through digital technology. Before catching him speak on the 21 May, we caught up with Sam for a preview – and asked him why he thinks MatchesFashion.com stands out from the crowd.
Could you tell us a little about your background? How did you come to be CTO at Matchesfashion.com?
Throughout my career I have worked within the business-to-consumer private sector across retail, consumer products, travel and media, with a particular focus on digital technologies and enterprise systems: for improved efficiency and information, better customer experience, and product and business model innovation. Prior to joining Matchesfashion.com I led Capgemini’s digital technology practice in the UK working with leading UK and global organisations, including Burberry, Sky, Eurostar, Morrison’s, Marks and Spencer and ITV, to design and deliver their web platforms, e-commerce operations, digital media, and cloud-computing and enterprise systems.
How important is it for retail sites to invest in new technologies? Are customers attracted to change, or is brand loyalty more important?
Matchesfashion.com is renowned for its unique position in the market as a global luxury-shopping destination, with bricks and mortar stores, a modern edit of over 400 international established and emerging designer collections and a loyal and growing customer base. Our customers themselves are evolving, and expect retailers and brands to evolve in the same way: becoming more digitally able and keeping up with any demand in real time. It should be no different digitally than it is in the luxury retail market, and customers should be able to find great modern digital experiences that do justice to the luxury market. The online luxury industry is relatively late to invest in new technologies primarily as it has had to wait for technologies to do it justice. In the past it was which products keep you engaged and the service you receive in the store, but now it’s about being notified when your favourite designers become available, being able to deliver the product you buy fast and keeping customers inspired. What it takes to build and maintain these technologies has developed so the industry is catching up.
How do you see Matches' implementation of technology in its e-tail model as different from other leading sites? In 2015 85% of business will be driven by online, with 80% of online revenue will be international. We made a big decision in 2013 to rebranded our store fronts to MATCHESFASHION.COM so we could align all of our platforms under one brand name, to create a seamless experience at every touch point for our clients worldwide. We do not differentiate between bricks and mortar and e-tail – we view it all as commerce and not different channels. For the first time, with the launch of our new platform we really believe we will have achieved this total synergy between physical and digital luxury fashion retail – and we have developed technology that enables us to connect every part of our business digitally and become the best in class. Our aim is to make the physical more digital and the digital more physical.
How do you see the connection between luxury and tech developing in the future? Wearables suggests a closer entanglement to come...
Technology wasn’t part of the fashion industry for a long time but it is going to become more and more intrinsic to the luxury experience. Time is the biggest luxury of all. People use their devices to look for things that they love as a leisure activity, as they have less and less time to themselves – this won’t stop and it will continue to evolve.
What technology are you most excited about, in retail terms, that's coming up in the next few months or years?
There will be doors that open that will change things in the same way as the iPhone, and then the iPad. It’s only since they emerged approximately 5 years ago that this whole market place opened up. We expect other key technologies to make milestones, but at the moment they aren’t penetrating the market yet. The Apple Watch is a prime example that aims at the luxury market, with some versions retailing at £20,000. These open up all sorts of possibilities: less hassle with each transaction, alerting customers when designers have arrived, profiling what each customer likes and making recommendations to them.
Book your ticket for the London Summit here.
Interview by Claire Healy