"The first purchase was made within a second"
by Natela Potskhveriya, September 19, 2018
Photography by Wayne Maser.
Only 3 months passed from the moment Federico Marchetti, founder of Yoox.com and now CEO of YNAP (Yoox & Net-a-porter), had an idea to launch his own online store to the first purchase. Is it actually possible to create an international project in such a short period? “I was just hugely motivated”, YNAP CEO explains to Natela Potskhveriya, who came to Milan to see the HQ of the retail giant.
KOMMERSANT STYLE (K.): Do you remember your first day at YOOX.com?
FEDERICO MARCHETTI (F.M.): I will never forget that day. I wouldn’t say that we got off the assembly line as impressively as a new shiny Ferrari, but there was a great sense of a start. We were so bold we even set a countdown on our website. But to be honest we had to repeat the last minute (laughs). Five, four, three, two, one, fifty-nine… and once more. But it was ok. Despite some flaws we started working. The first purchase was made within a second. A woman from the Netherlands bought a Versace dress in Italian liras. We had 100 purchases in the first few days. I don’t like reminiscing and I don’t live in the past, but I remember those days most fondly.
K.: Online shopping can be inconvenient as no one would hem the trousers for you if they are too long, or swap the buttons. How do you solve this problem?
F.M.: For us it is no longer a problem. Last year we launched the Next Era project specifically for our clients who miss this kind of service. Now you can buy any item online and bring it to the closest brand store to hem it, for example. Our first brand partner is Valentino with the online store. You can buy on the website the items you can’t find in your city and the staff at your closest store will help you with the rest. Besides we have personal shoppers who help the clients with their shopping and give them advice in difficult situations. We have a lot of programs that we are developing to make online shopping a personal process and let the clients feel special.
K.: How did you convince the brands like Versace to trust you and give you their products?
F.M.: You should ask them. But I think I inspired them with my dream. I am by nature a dreamer. But I don’t dream about the impossible, only about what can actually happen if you make every effort.
K.: Why did you buy Net-a-porter?
F.M.: It was a website offering luxury items. So were we. But we had completely different customers. Not a single intersection. And I wanted for us to work together.
K.: After all racist, homophobic and sexist scandals in the industry several companies have created a new position - “diversity manager”, responsible for the strategy considering the diversity of the clients. Do you have this position?
F.M.: God forbid, no. Why would we need one? We already know that our client base is diverse. Among them are people of different countries, cultures, sexual orientation and, after all, taste. Much of what has come to the fore today, YOOX has been practicing long before others. We have an international team. By the way, in our team there is a manager responsible for sustainability and building our business considering nature and ecology. Moreover, in our company of 4,7k two-thirds are women. And this does not mean women are working at the warehouses and men are managing them from the Board of Directors office. Half of our Board of Directors are women. And that’s not to even mention equal salary.
K.: Did it just happen and now you have an extra reason to be proud or was it a part of the strategy?
F.M.: Of course, it is a part of our strategy. Most of our clients are women. And men over 60 are unlikely to get the needs of a 30-year-old female customer. I was once invited to the house of an American entrepreneur along with other successful businessmen. The evening consisted of an official introduction and an informal part. So I had to explain to everyone what I was doing and what the YOOX and Net-a-porter projects were. And then we sat for dinner and someone at the table mentioned my company and the wives of the invited businessmen lit up. In a second, I turned from the guy who was doing God-knows-what to the hero of the night.
K.: What will never be sold online?
F.M.: Can a trivial answer like “love” be accepted? To be honest, I don’t know. I think everything can be purchased or sold online, you just have to do it smartly and think through your strategy.
K.: Can the technology be dangerous?
F.M.: I will say that in order to read a fairy tale to my daughter I get a book not a tablet. And I limit the time spend at the computer or on social media. There needs to be balance.
Originally published in KOMMERSANT STYLE.