Online fashion has become increasingly visual, and mobile app Project September makes it shoppable as well. I spoke recently in New York with former Gilt CEO Alexis Maybank, now CEO of Project September, about what’s been learned so far.
Q: How did Project September come into being?
A: While at Gilt, we noticed huge jumps in shoppers coming from Pinterest and then Instagram. Merchandising had left the storefront and moved into the hands of the individual. We wanted to put forth the first platform so all these individuals with a point of view could pull in a product and immediately talk about it. It’s shifting so quickly, it surprises me.
Q: How does it work?
A: It’s an immersive visual shopping experience. Individuals can shop, share and sell (by tagging a retailer and getting a referral fee). We have partnerships with thousands of brands to bring all of their inventory into our platform. Any item from their catalogs you can pull into Project September’s back-end to tag and curate.
Q: Where is the budget coming from?
A: It’s a little bit of PR, a little bit of performance marketing. It’s shifting how people are allocating their dollars.
Q: What were you aiming for?
A: The idea was to make it as easy as possible for individuals to find and curate a selection. It’s equally easy for shoppers to flip through the images. We’ve got some beautiful creators — stylists, make-up artists.
Q: How do you define success?
A: The definition is changing all the time. Project September is often helping brands roll out campaigns across social media. The way you use Instagram is different than how you use Snapchat. It’s audience management and the more you can do it in an appropriate manner for that channel, the better the click-thrus are based on the links to the product purchase. It’s almost as much of a brand campaign as it is to come directly and see this one product. It has to feel as authentic as possible.
Q: What has surprised you?
A: We didn’t expect brands to share so much of their own content and behind-the-scenes shots. There’s a whole new phenomenon of Street Style. During Fashion Week, we saw effective use capturing people as they walked around in the products.
Q: What else have you learned?
A: There’s a premium placed on freshness. A consumer comesback and the expectation is high for something new. No two visits are the same and you want to give a reason to come back. The challenge is keeping up with that.