Suzy Vasconcelos is the co-founder of Movvo, company winner of the MIT Portugal venture award. Her background includes being a university researcher in the computer science optimisation field, she diversified to management and business since she founded Movvo in 2009. Suzy pursued a specialisation in Luxury Brand Management by London College of Fashion to help the company in those areas of expertise. Her main focus is to find technological solutions to management problems, trying to find the right answers using a computer science perspective. We have conducted an interview with her.
What is fascinating about Luxury Brand Management?
The whole retail industry is very interesting, but for me, the most interesting niche is the luxury one. Why? Well, it is one of the most challenging areas. You really need to understand what your customer wants and what are their needs. Is almost like you had to mind read their thoughts because you need to understand what people value and with that, create the brand values and market position. You need to create the desire to the brand because it is the most valuable asset of the company. One little mistake or a wrong positioning can ruin the brand reputation and loose value. What makes a hit bag a hit? Why people fancy that watch instead of the other? How to keep brand awareness high. What is the ideal pricing strategy? All of this is fascinating because there are so many variables and lessons to learn from data.
Which is the most impressive tech solution to management problems you have found recently?
Store analytics. Finally, stores have the tools to understand people behaviour inside the store. So far, this was only possible to online stores. How much time people spend in one section, what was the basket size, dwell time and a plethora of KPI’s. But now there are tools that allow physical spaces to understand people behaviour, warehouse movements and POS transactions. All that data can be analysed easily, allowing a faster and better decision.
What do you think is going to be an impact on eCommerce luxury brands?
There is a lot of debate in this field. Basically, there are 2 approaches. For example, a Chanel bag can only be bought through their boutiques. They defend that you need to live the experience, and the boutique is part of that. Some argue that this approach removes the brand mystic because it makes the brand more available. But on the other hand, it attracts more customers that may have the economic power but do not have the means to visit the boutique. And there are also platforms, like Farfetch, that allow boutiques to sell their luxury items worldwide, with ease. People's economic power is growing and people are looking for unique items. Items that praise for self-indulgence, and facilitating the access to those items, in my opinion, make the brand become more valuable (not only by selling more but for creating the desire on people). Several brands are already using the power of online fashion influencers, and it’s a natural process to embrace e-commerce in that strategy. One great example of online stores is Fendi, where the experience is still unique to each customer, and the image and marketing message is aligned to their physical stores. You can visit the website and a store, and you will understand the message and the story behind the collection.
What are your background and education?
My background is computer science. It may sound a little off from the retail and luxury area, but it allowed me to have a more analytical view on problems. I was always interested in optimisation problems. My first research was to optimise a warehouse using computer algorithms, allowing lower investments and faster production times. After that, I jumped to the research of data from wireless signals from device tracking. After seeing the application of that technology to the retail area, I wanted to learn more and I specialised in Luxury Brand Management, to really understand the problems that brands face in the retail battlefield, and try to solve their problems with technical solutions. The solutions need to be adapted to the customer, not the reverse, so is important to understand their needs.
What suggestions can you give to luxury retailers?
I have 2 tips: Omnichannel and data collection. Retailers need to have a correct strategy to implement a truly omnichannel experience to the consumer. Luxury is all about the experience. The user want’s to feel appreciated and really valued. You can loose that experience online. You need to replicate the in-store experience online. And everything needs to have the same message through the diverse channels that you are using. To enable that, you need to have a coherent plan of data collection. You don’t need to collect data because you can. You need to do it wisely, so you can really make use of the data to benefit your strategy. Make sure all the systems may be interoperable and can exchange data easily between them.