174 – Jyothi Rao of INTERMIX – Relationship Retail

Multi-brand boutique brand with INTERMIX…

Jyothi Rao (bio), President of INTERMIX (the largest multi-brand boutique brand in the US) joins Pavan Bahl, Rob Sanchez and Marc Raco for “Fashion Is Your Business LIVE”, on location at the new co-working environment Blueprint + Co. Sponsored by UPS and Diageo.

Staying connected, a view of consumers, and dual-channel

Rao reviews the launch of INTERMIX in early 1990’s by entrepreneurs creating anew concept of a multi-brand retail environment, and becoming successful. How INTERMIX currently has over 40 boutiques and a rapidly growing ecommerce business. The simple value prop of presenting best fashion edit of the season, along with supporting emerging design talent through platform. Rao’s role of setting the vision of the company, hiring strong team-members, and staying connected with customer. The need to evolve with customers and employees, how Rao’s path has prepared her to steer INTERMIX the right direction, working for Gap, and becoming obsessive about branding and protecting the brand. The importance of knowing who you are as a brand, and not trying to be everything to everyone. Gathering a range of knowledge and experience with Calvin Klein knowing brick and mortar, and Gilt knowing digital, and how the future is two channels closer to together and having technology enable that. Rao is a proponent of multichannel retailing, and coming together and having a 360-view of consumers, authenticating them when coming in physical space, and having technology that integrates POS, CRM, perpetual inventory, ecommerce and customer-facing applications for one view of how the consumer is operating. Technology is dead on arrival without the store associate not utilizing it effectively. How INTERMIX is about the styling, personalization and localization, and trying to have more consumers be dual-channel consumers.

External vs. internal tech solutions, a pop-up creative lab, and relationships with top clients

Taking inspiration from other industries for tech solutions, with examples of Netflix and grocery stores great for personalization, and bringing in from a latent perspective. Rao is a fan of external solutions instead of developing in-house, which involves playing catch-up. INTERMIX is collecting significant data from sales, receiving significant qualitative information from consumer interactions. The great pop up store in NYC near the Whitney Museum and High Line, how they didn’t just expand the boutique and instead made it into a creative lab, able to dismantle everything overnight and make it an event space. Showcasing emerging designers. How the INTERMIX client is a social, on-the-go woman, and events need to align with the person she is. How they look at ROI for the pop up and events, some of what they do has to be for the customer, and how events allow them to gain a lot of info on what people want, creating a kind of informal focus group. How to communicate with different generations and staying true to brand ethos while not alienating core customer base. How INTERMIX must get very granular in how they show up for clients as individuals. Having top clients associated with stylists/relationship managers across 42 retail locations, making sure they are using CRM data, using cluster groups for consumer behavior, and being able to do the edit at scale. Getting through the clutter and balancing following trend line with desire to support emerging designers, which gives people a reason to come to INTERMIX.

Family inspiration, Nigeria and Hogwarts

Off the Grid Questions touch on a father’s inspiration and a daughter’s optimism, a country called Nigeria, not that Oxford, England in the ‘80’s, The Cure, left brain meeting right brain, “go-slows”, child’s play in Nigeria and England, sculpting stone, crediting immigration, and Hogwarts.

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