The Future has Arrived
by Marco Morello, April 11, 2020
Photography by Olaf Blecker
For Federico Marchetti, president and CEO of YNAP, tech investments and offline / online integration will re-launch the sector.
«A storm like the one we are experiencing now triggers inevitable changes. But when the emergency passes, there is no turning back. A long wave remains. In fashion it will coincide with an acceleration of investments in technology ». This is how the post-coronavirus scenario is imagined by Federico Marchetti, President and CEO of Yoox Net-A-Porter Group, an online luxury giant with over 4.2 million customers in 180 countries, about a billion euros in annual sales made from smartphones, more than a billion visits a year to its digital destinations.
Will the ongoing tsunami wipe out physical stores?
On the contrary, they will continue to be always there. I didn't believe they disappeared when I started with Yoox and everyone said that only e-commerce would survive, let alone twenty years later. I think we can create a union between the two universes. An invisible, borderless integration between online and offline.
How do they coexist without rivalry?
By becoming one, because the customer is one, therefore it makes sense to show him wherever the same inventory is. Each of us carries his own historian, his preferences, a package of important information: they must be put at the service of personal shoppers on the ".com" and, in parallel, of the employees in the boutique. Another fundamental step, it must be remembered that the customer who is passionate about fashion does not go on the internet just to buy. He asks for entertainment. Especially in stormy situations, he wants content to be able to distract and inspire. All in all, it's an almost alchemical formula, which works.
A great lesson from this bizarre time is that houses are, openly, windows wide open on the world from which we try to do everything. Can technology simplify the shopping experience by bringing the store home?
The answer is yes. We have already done it in our app, through augmented reality: Yooxmirror is nothing but a virtual dressing room, where our users have the opportunity to try on the items in the catalog on themselves. For Moncler.com, then, we have launched the possibility of seeing how various pairs of sneakers are on foot. I don't tell the future, it's happening now.
The news also teaches that logistics, as it stands, cannot cope with demand peaks, that the supply chain must be rethought in order to return promptly.
Again, the solution is to invest in technology. For example, most of the order processing in our warehouses is entrusted to robots that go faster than a Lamborghini and to a longer conveyor belt on the Monza circuit. In this way, we have not only found ourselves having useful know-how to cope in a period of shock, but we have also managed to safeguard the health of our workers, who have always remained at a safe distance from each other.
According to authoritative studies, it will not return to normal before several months. Are you worried about this resistance of the extraordinary?
I must say that I can still sleep at night. We are part of the Richemont group, one of the largest luxury giants in the world. We have those who support us behind us. We are well placed because they are very diversified. If we were focused on one country, it would be complicated. China is already showing signs of recovery, the various markets will start again. We hope that Italy will be the second to recover, and then it will be up to America and England. In the contemporary context, geographical differentiation proves to be a huge advantage.
Top: Federico Marchetti (Ravenna, 1969) graduated in economics at Bocconi in Milan. After an MBA at Columbia University and a work experience, he also founded Yoox in 2000, became Ynap in 2015 and acquired by the luxury giant Richemont in 2018 for Bain & Company. Marchetti said that he will leave the position of maintaining that as president of the group.
Originally published in Italian in Vogue Italia