Cover Story: The Top Women in Cross-Channel Retail
Jill Braff, Executive Vice President of Digital Commerce, HSN
Jill Braff was appointed executive vice president of digital commerce for HSN in February 2011. In this position, Braff oversees the cross-channel retailer’s e-commerce, mobile and social media platforms and leads HSN’s e-commerce, digital marketing, merchandising and advanced services teams. In addition, Braff manages the development and implementation of new multiplatform initiatives for HSN.
- Tip: HSN’s customer is now watching our broadcast while shopping HSN.com on their mobile device. Being relevant on the second screen by providing compelling content and a unique, consistent brand experience across all consumer touchpoints is a tremendous advantage. Technology means that shopping now fits seamlessly around their life, schedule and interests. We have two audiences we need to serve: our loyal customer base that still prefers to shop in front of the TV with their phone in hand to place an order (although we’re seeing more who are watching on TV and using their mobile device as a second screen to look up additional info), and a fast-growing audience who tap into mobile, use their computer and follow trends on Facebook and Twitter to do their shopping. We need to be engaging them where they are.
Kerry Cooper, Chief Merchandising Officer, ModCloth
Kerry Cooper is chief marketing officer and chief operations officer at ModCloth, an independent designer fashion and decor retailer. Cooper is responsible for overseeing ModCloth’s marketing, buying, merchandising, human resources, customer service and customer acquisition. Cooper joined ModCloth as chief marketing officer in November 2011. Previously, she held multiple executive positions at Walmart.com, including chief marketing officer, where she was responsible for leading Wal-Mart’s global e-commerce and multichannel development. She also spent time at Levi Strauss & Company, where she was in charge of retail and planning for the company’s Dockers brand. Cooper started her career at McKinsey & Company, where she served in a variety of roles in venture capital and enterprise software.
- Tip: Social media is an update to the very essence of retail — stopping in the aisle and talking to your customer on a much larger scale. Make sure you’re participating in that conversation and reacting accordingly.
Lisa Gavales, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, EXPRESS
Lisa Gavales is the executive vice president and chief marketing officer at EXPRESS, a 600-store cross-channel retailer selling men’s and women’s fashion apparel. Overseeing marketing, visual and express.com, Gavales has been with EXPRESS since January 2008. She’s responsible for building the EXPRESS brand and creating compelling, consistent messaging and imagery. Gavales was instrumental in the launch of EXPRESS’ e-commerce site in July 2008. Prior to joining EXPRESS, Gavales spent 14 years at Bloomingdale’s, where she started as vice president of planning, became a general merchandise manager, launched Bloomingdales.com and left as senior vice president of marketing. Prior to Bloomingdale’s, Gavales spent five years as a retail strategy consultant for Management Horizons, a division of PwC.
- Tip: Focus on the brand first and channels second. Review people, reward people and measure brand success, not channel success. It’s easy to improve sales in one channel while hurting or at least ignoring the other. This doesn’t help. Remember our job is to take market share from our competitors, not other marketing channels.
Kimberly Grabel, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Saks Fifth Avenue
Kimberly Grabel is senior vice president of marketing for the 46 full-line stores and 61 OFF 5th outlet stores that make up Saks Fifth Avenue, one of the world’s preeminent specialty retailers. Grabel is responsible for customer analytics and insights, brand strategy, advertising, direct marketing, customer development and loyalty programs, public relations, special events, social media, and production. Grabel joined Saks in 1995, holding positions of increasing responsibility throughout the marketing department. She also serves as the first vice chairman of the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association of the National Retail Federation.
- Tip: All good cross-channel marketing is 360°, enveloping the consumer in a singular story. Don’t prescribe the approach to your teams, but paint the picture of what you want the consumer to perceive and experience. Insist on creative consistency, but allow your experts in the various mediums to figure out the best way to deliver that picture in each medium.
Cheryl Kaplan, Chief Member Advocate, Rue La La
Cheryl Kaplan oversees the customer experience teams at flash-sale retailer Rue La La, including creative, user experience, production, event programming and customer service. A member of the executive management team, Kaplan has been instrumental in the launch and growth of Rue La La and continues to represent the interest of the customer and brand to promote the best experience for all. Kaplan joined Rue La La after spending time as a key member of the SmartBargains.com management team. Prior to joining SmartBargains, Kaplan worked at RedRocket.com, a children’s online retailer and division of MTV Networks. Kaplan’s extensive retail background includes experience at The Original Levi’s Stores, Filene’s Basement, Gap and The Ozer Group.
- Tip: Obsess over the customer. Engage, listen, advocate and innovate and they’ll be as devoted to you as you are to them.