Interview: Jared Blank, VP E-commerce for Tommy Hilfiger

A Focus on the Basics + A Great Brand Experience = Tommy.com

Anyone who’s worked with me knows I don’t love meetings.  Let me rephrase:  I love good meetings.  Not a fan of meetings that suck.  That’s why I was so excited by my interview with Jared Blank.  His good-news message just might mean that sucky meetings are a thing of the past. 

Jared Blank is VP for E-commerce at Tommy Hilfiger.  He is a savvy online marketer who also edits Online Travel Review (you’ll want to book if you’re planning any travel.  Doing so will save you money).  Jared has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNBC, and NPR.  I was thrilled to be able to catch up with him and talk e-commerce and Tommy.com

Focusing on the Basics

Despite the opportunities available to him as the cost of e-commerce implementation has come down (“Everything is much less expensive now.  Building a site used to be in the millions, now it’s a few hundred thousand”),  Jared stays focused on the fundamentals.  “As a philosophy, it’s about getting the basics right.  It’s about getting a website that everyone can be proud of, and then building cool stuff on top of that.” 

Defining the Tommy.com Experience

Just as there’s no mistaking a Tommy Hilfiger bricks and mortar store, there’s also no mistaking it when you’re on the Tommy.com website.  The “vibe” of the website is distinctly Tommy.  This is part of an initiative to “globalize” the brand experience wherever in the world you might be visiting from.  Jared recognizes that there’s huge value in the Tommy brand, and this has been a major driver in his efforts.  “[The brand experience] is really one global message, regardless of where you’re interacting with us.”  And while the look and feel of the website is distinctly Tommy, the content on the US sight remains distinctly American. “We’re focused on optimizing merchandise for the US.  The look and feel is the same anywhere, while the product is tailored to meet the US market.”

A Mobile Platform Means Better Meetings

While keeping focused on the fundamentals is Jared’s approach, he did let me know that we can also anticipate a mobile version of the Tommy.com site out in the not too distant future, making it even easier to purchase from our iPhone or Android.   So, next time that business presentation on, say, corporate expenditures, gets a little boring, all you need to do is discretely glance down at your iPhone and pick up a shirt or two.  And there you have it.  Boring meetings are now a thing of the past. 

Thanks Jared for taking the time to chat.  And if you’d like more information about how your website can enhance your customer experience, let’s connect.

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Book Review: Consumer Republic by Bruce Philp

A few postings ago I recommended 5 Essential Reads for the New Year.  One of them was a not-yet-published (but highly anticipated) book by Bruce Philp, “Consumer Republic:  Using Brands to Get What You Want, Make Corporations Behave, and Maybe Even Save the World ”  If you’ve read Bruce’s blog, seen him speak, or perhaps have read his first book, “The Orange Code: How ING Direct Succeeded by Being a Rebel with a Cause,” (co-authored with Arkadi Kuhlmann) you’ll know that Bruce Philp is one of corporate America’s leading authorities on creating brands.  That’s precisely what makes “Consumer Republic” such a neat read.  Rather than speaking as an outside observer on the malevolent evil of brands, Philp brings an insider’s view on how brands really operate.  He takes us on a fascinating guided tour of the inner workings of brand advertising, and along the way, shows us how to make brands listen to us, give us what we want, and create a better world.

“Consumer Republic” posits that brands feel intense accountability to how we perveive them, and that this acts as a kind of insurance policy for quality and authenticity.  Brands, Philp asserts, have a lot riding on our willingness to believe in their ability to deliver what they claim to deliver, and will go to great lengths to protect their interest.  This includes making better products or services, treating the environment better, or even being nicer to us on the phone.  Our role as consumers is to communicate what we want, and purchase brands that align to our desires.  Then tell our friends.

Unlike some authors on this subject, Philp doesn’t need to guess at the motivations of brands or the companies behind them, because he was often involved in the process of analysis and promotion of many well-known brands in the first place.   This is what sets “Consumer Republic” apart.  Reading “Consumer Republic” is a lot like having a cup of coffee with someone who really knows what they’re talking about.  And the conversation is refreshingly optimistic.  Rather than the “brands are evil” approach we have often seen, “Consumer Republic” suggests that brands can be exactly what we want them to be, that it’s our choices that make the difference.  What we make of the brands in our lives is up to us.

Read “Consumer Republic” if you want a unique perspective of the occasionally absurd, and refreshingly human, world of brand marketing as told from someone with the inside scoop.  Also, read this book also if you are thinking about the choices you make at the cash register, and have wondered about whether you can leverage those choices as a force for change in the world.

For more information, below is an interview with Bruce about “Consumer Republic.”  And if you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your comments below.  Thank for reading.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bh-GsjZ9Muw[/youtube]

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