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The next Natalie Massenet?

来源:FT中文网    2018-03-09 07:23

        In today’s world of luxury retail, he who makes the sale as quick and painless as possible is king. Or queen. In 2009, inspired by the way young people were using social media, Sophie Hill, a blonde 20-something fashion buyer, launched Threads Styling, a personal shopping service with a mission to “Inspire, Acquire, Deliver”. All its business is done using social media: new clients usually arrive through Instagram before being picked up by the brand’s WhatsApp host team, who connect them with a personal shopper (one of 27) who becomes their sole point of contact. All communications are done via messaging. They call it “conversational commerce” or “chat-based media”, but the business model emulates normal peer-to-peer communication.        在当今奢侈品零售界,谁能尽可能又快又不费力气地卖出东西,谁就为王,或女王。2009年,时年20多岁的金发女郎、时尚买手索菲•希尔(Sophie Hill),受年轻人使用社交媒体的方式启发,推出了私人采购服务Threads Styling,口号为“启发、获得、给予”。所有业务均通过社交媒体完成:新客户通常都是通过Instagram联系,经由公司WhatsApp运营团队沟通后,分配给一位私人买手(共有27名)。这名私人买手将成为客户的单一联络人。所有交流均通过发信息完成。他们称之为“交谈商务”,或“聊天媒体”,但商业模式仿效一般的P2P社交。
        From the start, Hill was unapologetic in her ambition to serve a younger clientele. “I remember, early on, people saying to me, ‘Why are you concentrating on millennials? They’re not a big enough market,’ ” Hill recalls. “People didn’t understand. They thought everything we were doing felt too youthful. And I was like, ‘I really, really think that nobody is speaking to this generation.’ ”        从一开始,希尔就毫不讳言自己的目标就是服务较年轻的客户群。“我记得,一开始,人们对我说,‘为什么你要专注于千禧一代?他们的市场可不够大。’”希尔回忆道。“人们不理解。他们认为我们做的一切都太不成熟了。而在我看来,‘我发自心底地认为还没有人专门服务这一代人。’”
        She was right. According to a report in Forbes in June, millennial and Generation Z clients are predicted to make up 45 per cent of the luxury market by 2025. They already account for 70 per cent of Threads’ client base. And their average spend is a whopping £3,000.        她是对的。根据《福布斯》杂志(Forbes)去年6月发布的一份报告,到2025年,千禧一代和“Z世代”客户预计会占到奢侈品市场的45%。他们已占到Threads客户群的70%,人均花费则高达3000英镑。
        What started initially as a way of “looking after” the Asian luxury clients who passed through London each summer has grown in all directions. “We don’t give out the client numbers but we have in the thousands now,” says Hill, now 35, from the kitchen of her elegantly spare apartment in London’s East End, just next door to the company’s offices. “Our sales figures have doubled every year for the last three or four years, and we’ve sold £30m worth of goods with a 5 per cent returns rate. So, we’ve been extremely influential in the luxury space.”        Threads创立之初是为了“照顾”每年夏天经过伦敦的亚洲奢侈品顾客。发展到现在,它的客户已遍及全球。“我们不会公布客户数字,但现在几千位是有的。”希尔现年35岁,在伦敦东区有一处雅致的闲置公寓,就位于公司办公室隔壁。她坐在公寓厨房里,告诉我:“过去三四年,我们每年的销售额都做到了翻番,迄今总共卖出了价值3000万英镑的商品,退货率仅为5%。因此,我们在奢饰品领域极具影响力。”
        Key to cultivating these new clients has been the way Threads communicates: clients and shoppers ping-pong messages back and forth. Their products are showcased via Instagram Stories, for which the in-house team creates a minimum of six branded features a day. It’s fast, it’s efficient and it’s highly personalised. “It’s not about sitting in a carpeted room with a glass of champagne and someone coming and showing you things,” Rachel Reavley, president of brand strategy, says of the changing retail experience. “A typical client is probably sitting in Santa Monica having lunch with their girlfriends, but spending 30 per cent of their day on their phone. Threads Styling puts your personal shopper in your pocket.”        培养这些新客户的关键在于Threads的交流方式:客户和买手之间通过信息往来。他们通过Instagram Stories来展示商品。公司的内部团队每天发布至少6条品牌小视频。这种交流方式十分快速、高效,极具针对性。“这可不是坐在铺着地毯的房间,喝着香槟,等着别人进来向你展示商品。”Threads品牌战略负责人蕾切尔•里夫利(Rachel Reavley)如此介绍不断变化的零售体验。“客户很可能坐在美国圣莫尼卡,和女伴们吃着午餐,但一天有30%的时间在玩手机。Threads Styling是帮你将私人买手装进口袋里。”
        Everything is designed to feel instinctive and familiar. “It’s an unparalleled convenience, but it’s about being convenient for them in the way that they behave,” says Reavley. “The same with the messaging: that’s how millennials communicate with their friends, so it’s a really natural flow of communication. It feels totally organic. We’re not asking them to download an app or come to a website or check something.”        整个过程设计得让你感到十分自然和熟悉。“用起来无比方便,而又完全贴合他们的行为习惯。”里夫利表示:“与发信息一样:这就是千禧一代与朋友交流的方式,所以是真正自然的沟通。感觉完全就是日常所为。我们不需要他们下载应用,或登录网站,或查阅什么终端。”
        Nevertheless Threads has to stay nimble. “You’re constantly learning because the customer behaviour modifies all the time,” says Hill. As well as using WhatsApp, Instagram, they also operate on WeChat and Snapchat, and are secretive about where they see the market moving next. “We get a real kick out of how fast we can do things, it’s part of our culture. But it’s also about people who’ve had amazing training from a human-to-human point of view and blending that with a great tech product team who are monitoring all that consumer behaviour.”        不过,Threads必须保持敏锐。希尔表示:“你要不断学习,因为用户行为一直在变。”除了WhatsApp和Instagram,他们还有微信和Snapchat方式,且对于市场下一个动向守口如瓶。“我们真的非常享受我们做事的速度。这是我们文化的一部分。但除此之外,还要归功于我们经过出色人际交流培训的团队,此外还有一支出色的技术产品团队来监测所有消费者行为。”
        As a company, it carries no stock, and Threads’ revenues are based on the commission on each sale. It also takes responsibility for all postage, packaging and delivery, most of it via its London hub. It’s a difficult business to scale. But in many ways, it is reshaping the narrative of what retail can be.        作为一家公司,Threads没有任何存货,收入来自每一笔销售的佣金。公司还要负责所有邮资、打包和投递。大多数商品都是通过其伦敦中心发出。这种业务很难规模化。但它正在许多方面转变着人们对零售业未来的看法。
        “We work with anything from wholesale to commission,” Reavley adds. “Because although we’re not a traditional buyer and we’re not going to turn up in your office and put in a pre-order buy, we’re probably as likely to shift as much product. We’re going to sell your stock for you. But in real time.”        “我们什么都做,从批发到委托。”里夫利补充道,“因为尽管我们不是传统买家,不会跑到你的办公室,预订某样东西,但我们应该同样有可能卖出一样多的产品。我们会帮你卖掉库存。还是实时的。”
        Luxury brands like working with Threads. There have been Instagram Stories with Céline and Cartier in recent weeks, brands that have typically been shy of embracing digital sales. “We see ourselves as a complement to other people’s businesses,” says Reavley. “Because what we’re doing is the definition of see now, buy now. We’re really shifting your inventory. Like it or not, the reality is not as many people go into bricks and mortar as they used to. So footfall is down organically. So when one of our personal shoppers comes into a store, that head of VIP customer experience recognises very quickly that here’s someone who’s representing thousands of people around the globe who aren’t going to walk into that store but who are still getting visibility on what they have.”        奢侈品牌喜欢与Threads合作。最近几周,Threads与赛琳(Céline)和卡地亚(Cartier)合作推出了一些Instagram Stories。这两个品牌以前一直对数字营销怀有戒心。“我们把自己看作是对其他人业务的补充。”里夫利称,“因为我们做的正是即看即买。我们确实在消化你的库存。无论你是否喜欢,现实就是许多人不会像以前一样去商店购物了。因此商店客流量大幅下滑。因此,当我们的私人买手走进一家商店,那里的VIP客户服务部负责人很快就能意识到,面前这个人代表着世界各地的数千名客户。虽然这些人并没有亲自走进商店,但仍看得到里面的一切。”
        As yet, Threads doesn’t do paid content with brands, but that will surely come. “We’re definitely being asked,” says Reavley. “And I don’t see anything wrong with it; if somebody’s got something great to talk about which we would naturally want to talk about anyway, then we can strategise about how we do that as a partnership. But right now we’re only talking about it.”        迄今,Threads不会替品牌发布收费内容,但未来肯定会这样做。“我们确实接到了问询。”里夫利说,“而且我觉得这样做没有任何问题。如果有很棒的产品想谈合作,而这件产品我们本来也想谈,那么我们就可以制定战略,研究如何合作。但眼下,我们还只在谈论阶段。”
        As for Threads’ own future, Hill is pragmatic. It has taken investment from Horizon Labs, the Hong Kong-based seed fund operated by Horizons Ventures, but it is not looking for more at the moment. “We’ve had moments of profitability,” says Hill. “But all the money we’ve made we’ve put back into growth and expanding the business. It’s really important to us to be a profitable business. That’s key.” The company is also looking at setting up a second office in California, which she sees as having the biggest potential in the new millennial economy, and “I can definitely see us having an office out in China, Hong Kong and Dubai”.        至于Threads的未来,希尔十分务实。它已经获得了由维港投资(Horizons Ventures)运营的香港种子基金Horizon Labs的投资,但目前不打算寻找更多投资者。“我们已实现过盈利。”希尔说:“但我们赚的所有钱又都投了进来,寻求增长和扩大业务。对我们而言,盈利非常重要。这是关键。”公司目前还打算在加州成立第二个办公室。希尔认为,加州是新千禧经济最具潜力之地,而“我将来当然也会在中国内地、香港和迪拜开设分公司”。
        Brexit is less of a challenge, the group says, than the huge discrepancies in global pricing that still affect the industry. “There’s going to have to be a pricing equalisation,” says Hill. “There’s a 20 per cent to 30 per cent uplift on most luxury goods in the US. And the differences between the UK and other countries in Europe will have to change.”        Threads表示,与英国脱欧相比,奢饰品在全球存在巨大价差是更大的挑战,仍影响着整个行业。“必须实现定价一致。”希尔表示,“美国大多数奢侈品都会贵上20-30%。而英国和其他欧洲国家之间的价差将必须改变。”
        “Millennials are too switched on to the differences,” adds Reavley. “They do the price comparisons. And I just don’t think from a brand perspective that’s a good way to treat the customer.”        “千禧一代非常在意价差。”里夫利补充道,“他们会对比价格。而且,从品牌角度讲,我认为这样对待顾客也非明智之举。”
        For all its millennial ambition, Threads Styling is also having to adapt to meet the needs of a new consumer: the older woman. “The biggest thing about millennials is that they’re such an influential generation, they really influence everyone around them,” says Hill. “And while we’ve been working with millennials — we’ve now got their parents.” Whether or not they use Snapchat is moot.        尽管对千禧一代信心十足,但Threads Styling仍需应对一类新客户的需求:年长女性。“千禧一代最厉害的一点在于,他们太有影响力,真的影响了身边的所有人。”希尔表示:“尽管我们一直与千禧一代打交道——但现在他们的父母也来了。”他们是否使用Snapchat并没有太大关系。
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