Online to Offline: Adore Me Preps Physical Retail Showroom, Pop-Ups For Personal Styling
Following an extensive TV ad campaign to complement its social media marketing, the lingerie e-tailer is working to make online to offline fit its look.
Affordable lingerie e-tailer Adore Me made a targeted, mobile-first appeal to urban Millennials — and less than three years after its founding, revenues climbed to $43 million in 2015.
Now, the would-be challenger to Victoria’s Secret is moving from “Online to Offline,” opening its first physical retail location in New York City in April. In the lead up to the expansion, CEO Morgan Hermand-Waiche his thoughts on building personalized experiences online and in-store — and why brick-and-mortar still matters.
GeoMarketing: How did Adore Me get started? And how do you view the company within the space as it exists today?
Morgan Hermand-Waiche: While at Harvard, I got the idea for Adore Me when I tried to buy lingerie on a budget as a birthday gift for my girlfriend. I realized the lingerie market was under-serviced, and I saw that there was a venture opportunity there. All the high fashion, high-quality items were way out of my budget, and anything I could afford was either outdated, under-designed, or of poor quality. I did some research and found out that 40 percent of the US lingerie industry was dominated by a single player — spoiler, that’s Victoria’s Secret —with high shipping, high return fees, collections launched only 4 times a year and available in a very limited size range.
Adore Me’s goal is to make lingerie affordable and available to all women in the US — this means that we offer high-quality sets for [a lower price] and our sizes go from petite to plus — from 30A to 44G. We design our lingerie in-house and have [so far] sold exclusively online, which our urban millennial customers (75 percent of our customers) seem to love.
You’ve said that 70 percent of Adore Me’s traffic comes from mobile. How do you reach this audience, and what targeting practices do you credit with the company’s recent growth?
First, we advertise heavily on the different social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram beta, etc. and do a lot of online and mobile advertising. This is really the way to reach our millennial customer base.
But we’re also doing something a little unusual for a startup: We advertise massively on national TV with campaigns on all the major channels such as Bravo, Lifetime, MTV, etc. This has proven to be a very efficient offline advertising channel; we started in January 2015 and are really focusing on creating new creative and testing out new things this year.
Adore Me has also been so successful thanks to the brand’s ability to curate a personalized online experience with personalized showrooms tailored to each shopper, impeccable fit, etc. That [personalization] matters. We offer our customers the possibility to be part of the VIP membership: at $24.95 for the first set and $39.95 for every set afterwards (instead of $49.95), and the VIP members get a lot of perks and that has been an important driver of growth.
Speaking of TV advertising, you’ve said you believe “it’s easier for digital companies to build TV ad effectiveness models due to lack of physical stores.” Why? Can you unpack this statement for me?
Well, the big challenge with TV advertising is that it’s difficult to analyze results. You can’t really track who buys your brand because they saw a TV ad — maybe they see the ad and buy right away, maybe they see the ad and buy three weeks later — so attributing traffic to TV ads is difficult to begin with.
It’s even more difficult when you have multiple points of sale like physical stores, website, wholesale, because the TV ad viewers can go to any of these locations. When you’re online only, the only point of contact you have with these customers is the website/app, so you know for sure that if they came, they came there. It makes analyzing the effectiveness of your TV ad a little bit easier.
Following in the footsteps of the likes of e-tailers Warby Parker and Tuckernuck, you plan to expand Adore Me from “Online to Offline” and open a retail location. How did you make this decision, and what are the plans for the physical store?
Adore Me’s Valentine’s Day pop-up at the Hudson Hotel had overwhelming positive feedback, so we’re very excited to announce the launch of Adore Me’s first store, Adore Me by-appointment.
Because we’ve been so successful online, we wanted to engage our customers offline as well, with a unique by-appointment experience: Shoppers get 45 minute appointments, one-on-one with a stylist, who will help them find their real bra size and find the perfect lingerie fit. The appointment is absolutely free of charge and the sets are priced just like online, so this is an engaging in-store experience that really has an added value that is unmatched in today’s lingerie market.
This first Adore Me store opens on April 5th in NYC, and we have plans to test pop-up stores in major US cities during the year.
In addition to the physical store opening, what are your plans for Adore Me this year? Anything you can share in terms of expansion?
Revenues in 2014 were $16.2 million, in 2015 $43 million, and we plan on keeping up with this growth curve for 2016.
And, Adore Me is launching two new product categories — nothing more I can say about that right now, but you’ll be able to see it on the website pretty soon.