Kate Spade

In the fashion business, it seems, everybody wants to be Ralph Lauren. The company epitomizes the so-called aspirational lifestyle brand, able to book huge sales at premium prices for everything from clothing to furniture to dinnerware. Kate Spade, another designer-inspired company, dreamed of following that path. In 2008, it recruited Craig Leavitt, a Ralph Lauren executive, as its CEO. But while shoppers continue to fawn over its colorful totes, satchels and clutches — sales were up more than 40 percent in 2014 — the company is learning that creating a buzzy lifestyle brand is more difficult than it seems. 

Kate Spade has been all over the news recently. Whether it be for its partnership with Gap Kids, clever "under construction" window shopping or viral holiday ads featuring Anna Kendrick, the handbag and accessories retailer has had a busy last few months. Not to mention the company posted a 48.7 percent increase in net sales in its latest fiscal quarter. However, while its marketing strategy is smart, it's Kate Spade's excellent customer service that's going to win over shoppers this holiday season.

Welcome to Retail Online Integration's fourth annual list of the leading female executives in the omnichannel retail industry. The women chosen for this list hold top-level positions within omnichannel retail organizations, and are being recognized for their position and scope of responsibility, achievements within their own company, and their involvement within the retail industry. In addition to learning about the career paths of these top retail executives, each woman has provided her top tip for omnichannel retail success in 2014.

Kate Spade wants to be Ralph Lauren. Looking to quadruple retail sales to $4 billion, the handbag maker is modeling itself on Lauren's empire: a global lifestyle brand selling everything from apparel to home goods. Kate Spade & Co.'s Chief Executive Officer Craig Leavitt is focusing on categories with ready appeal — fragrances, jewelry, watches, sunglasses — and offering a range of price points to attract millennials on one end and luxury shoppers at the other. "Ralph Lauren is our business analog," said Leavitt, a former Lauren lieutenant who joined Kate Spade in 2008. 

eBay has impressed me with shoppable windows, the expansion of eBay Now (its same-day delivery service) and its soon-to-be-launched virtual shopping mall "The Plaza." But the online retailer may have outdone itself with shoppable theater.

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