Home Health Online but to be touched: Ferragamo’s way to digital fashion

Online but to be touched: Ferragamo’s way to digital fashion

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“At the beginning of the pandemic we found ourselves at a crossroads. We could cancel our events and wait for travel to resume or reinvent our customer experience making it digital “, says Annalisa Dimonte, Salvatore Ferragamo Group Director Customer Experience. Thus, in the uncertainty of returning to normality and with customer safety as top priority, the team decided to rethink the experience offered to buyers in the ateliers of Florence and Milan. “We have decided to turn an emergency into an opportunity,” adds Dimonte. Ferragamo has around 650 stores around the world and over 4000 employees. Innovation has always been at the heart of the brand, as demonstrated by the over 400 patents, including the wedges that many women are fond of, including myself. As Group Director of Customer Experience, DiMonte relies on head, hands and heart to involve customers. The head is the analysis of data, the hands are the problem solving, the heart is the love and connection between the brand and its customers.

Before Covid-19, Ferragamo invited major buyers from all over the world to Italy to visit special places such as Lake Como orLast Supper, to attend a fashion show and then to take time to see the clothes, discuss it at length with the stylists and other experts, touch the materials, learn the details, and finally order their favorite models, which would be delivered three or four months later. The company is rightly proud of this personalized process.

The pandemic pushed Dimonte and his team to rethink the entire process, breaking it down into several moments and then deciding what could be done virtually and what could not. Ferragamo has always been a creative brand, which has reinvented itself many times and this was a challenge worth taking. It was also an opportunity to prove that even in digital it is possible to create a personalized experience. Personal experience arises above all from interaction with experts. But there is also atactile and sensory experience: touch the fabrics, see the colors. So Ferragamo sent samples to customers, to overcome the mediation of a digital screen. Preserving the sense of exclusivity was crucial for the brand. While the digitization of the experience opened up the opportunity to cater to a wider audience, buyers still had to make an appointment with the sales rep to review the collection, discuss details and place their pre-orders.

As a digital platform, Ferragamo has relied on Cisco WebEx because it allows the company to share high-quality video feeds from three different cameras that provide a view of the presenter, one of the models and one of the details of the outfit. The reaction from the buyers has been so positive and the return on investment so high that Ferragamo will use this digital experience even when travel restrictions are completely eliminated. The key is to put the customer and their preferences first, so the strategy articulates different experiences based on their wants and needs. It is difficult to predict with certainty whether online events will remain the first choice, but it is clear to Dimonte that keeping the digital option will allow for a deeper dialogue with a wider audience.

Like many other companies forced to use digital to satisfy customers, Ferragamo’s success was born from the attempt to rethink the experience and not simply to replicate it. Breaking it down into its main components has allowed us to better understand what makes customers loyal to a brand. As many companies are planning a return to face-to-face operations, it will be essential to consider the additional revenue opportunities online can bring in the long run. Expand and deepen customer engagement, reduce risk for future emergencies, and embrace technology, not as a means to an end but as a enabler of a more modern, flexible and agile business. Dimonte insists a lot on the fact that digitization does not mean dehumanization of the experience. If Ferragamo has been able to embrace digital and preserve the personal experience upon which the entire high fashion business is built, then there is hope for others too.


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