President Carly Rosenberg on the Evolution of Bluefly
There’s been a lot going on lately at Bluefly, the online seller of women's, men's and children's apparel and accessories, home furnishings and décor and beauty items from both high-end niche as well as up-and-coming brands. Earlier this spring, for example, Bluefly unveiled a new look, including a site redesign, new logo, new branding, and a streamlined interface on its traditional and mobile platforms. Bluefly also will be launching a new app for iOS and Android devices in the coming weeks.
Bluefly intends to focus more closely on its marketplace, which was launched in 2013, and now accounts for 40 percent of the retailer's total orders. Furthermore, 90 percent of the company’s products are featured in its marketplace.
Leading this transformation is Bluefly’s recently named president, Carly Rosenberg, who previously served as the retailer's chief marketing officer, as well as holding executive positions at ANN INC.and J.Crew.
I recently conducted an email interview with Rosenberg to gain further insight into how Bluefly is evolving its business, as well as to get her perspective on the state of online retail.
Melissa Campanelli: Please tell me about your journey at Bluefly. When did you join?
Carly Rosenberg: I started at Bluefly in May 2014 as the CMO. My role here has grown over the past few years; in early 2015 I became general manager and CMO, and just recently I was named president.
MC: As the new president, what are your goals for the company?
CR: One of my big goals for the year is to improve the overall shopping experience for our customers, which we did recently with the launch of our new site, complete with new branding, a new logo and an enhanced shopping experience on our new e-commerce platform. This new platform allows us to manage our content in one place so customers can see new products, product updates and promotions instantly on desktop, mobile or mobile app. Bluefly has always been a leader in retail technology, and we’re excited that our customers can now experience a consistent and holistic shopping experience regardless of which device they're using.
MC: Tell me about Bluefly’s marketplace model. How does it work?
CR: We launched the marketplace model in 2013 with the goal of providing a holistic shopping experience for customers, bringing them new and exciting brands from which to shop. The marketplace model allows Bluefly to drive its business without having to invest in inventory, and is a true partnership between Bluefly and its brands. Our brand managers work directly with our brand partners, and their No. 1 goal is to create the most success for that brand on our site. This relationship allows for flexibility and transparency, with brands maintaining control over pricing, assortment and product presentation, while the tools that our teams put in place allow them to optimize the brand’s experience and exposure on our site. Additionally, by launching a marketplace for fashion, we can offer our customers a selection of high-end niche brands as well as up-and-coming brands.
MC: Why do you feel this is a good strategy to grow the business?
CR: Bluefly is at the forefront of a trend that’s going to transform retail. The industry is continuing to go through a massive transition, and I see this model that we’re building as the future of retail. Our transition to a marketplace model is key to our overall plan to reinvigorate the brand this year. In 2013, when Clearlake Capital acquired Bluefly, it felt there was a white space for a fashion marketplace. Bluefly was primed for this transition as we already had incredible relationships with brands, a desirable and strong customer base, and a reputation as an innovator and retail leader. It was the perfect time to transition to a marketplace model, and was one of the driving forces for the acquisition. From a business model standpoint, the marketplace model allows us to continue driving and growing our business without having to invest in inventory while still offering our customers a broad selection of products across categories.
MC: Why do you think a marketplace is so popular with Bluefly's customers?
CR: While Bluefly currently sells from inventory stocked in our warehouse as well as direct from our marketplace partners, currently 90 percent of our SKUs are marketplace, and the ultimate goal is for 100 percent of our products to be from marketplace partners. Currently, we have more than 2,000 brands participating in our marketplace model. Much of our recent growth is attributed to the successful transition to this model, growing from 0 percent to 40 percent of all Bluefly orders in the past two years. For customers, the experience between marketplace and owned inventory is seamless. The benefit to them is that they have access to a selection of high-end niche brands as well as up-and-coming brands, allowing them to shop "high low" for items at full price and at value.
MC: Can you offer any insights into the future of online retail? Any predictions?
CR: Everything is mobile now. I think retailers need to stop thinking about mobile as a separate channel, and if they haven’t already, invest in mobile now. We were seeing roughly half of our traffic and a third of our conversions via mobile, and it pushed us to invest in updates. Our new e-commerce platform will help drive mobile sales through our new responsive design site and a native app experience, including push notifications that will keep our customers engaged and connected. Our new mobile app for iOS and Android will be launching [this month] as well.
Melissa Campanelli is Editor-in-Chief of Total Retail. She is an industry veteran, having covered all aspects of retail, tech, digital, e-commerce, and marketing over the past 20 years. Melissa is also the co-founder of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle.