How to be Successful with the Retail Landscape Shifts: Advice from Robert D'Loren

How to be Successful with the Retail Landscape Shifts: Advice from Robert D'Loren

Even if you’re not familiar with the name Bob D'Loren, you likely are familiar with the companies his brand management and media company Xcel Brands represents. Isaac Mizrahi, Halston, Judith Ripka… these are major brands with major clout in the retail space.

So, what’s D’Loren’s secret? How has he helped these popular players in the fashion industry become so successful? As he explained in my latest podcast, it comes down to partner collaboration and customer satisfaction.

Xcel Brands: A Solution Provider that Does Fashion

“We are truly a ubiquitous channel company,” D’Loren told me—and he’s not kidding. His company’s brands are everywhere:

  • Their products are sold in department stores like Dillard’s and Lord & Taylor.
  • They also sell to specialty retailers like Best Buy and Michael’s.
  • They serve as a vendor for other companies, too, like General Motors and Johnson & Johnson.
  • They’re also a vendor for interactive television channels; specifically, their brands are broadcast in nine countries and reach over 400 million homes around the world.

“We are truly a ubiquitous channel company.”

The success D’Loren and Xcel Brands’ stable of companies have had isn’t due to sheer volume and exposure though. “We think of ourselves as a media company and a solution provider that does fashion,” he said.

“We think of ourselves as a media company and a solution provider that does fashion.”

In other words, Xcel Brands is a strategic and collaborative player in retail. The company’s focus has thus been on making smart moves that result in the best outcome for its clients and its retail partners.

As D’Loren explained, the relationship Xcel Brands has with its retail partners is one based on mutual benefit and trust. “We truly collaborate with our retail partners. We give them our brands exclusively… and we don’t mark it up. In exchange for them getting the full vertical margin, they take the inventory risk on the goods and we work on a percentage of sales.”

“We truly collaborate with our retail partners. We give them our brands exclusively… and we don’t mark it up. In exchange for them getting the full vertical margin, they take the inventory risk on the goods and we work on a percentage of sales.”

To hear more about Xcel Brands’ unique business model and how it’s helped them gain an edge over the competition, listen to the rest of the podcast here:

The Future of Retail: Give the Customer Total Control

It’s no surprise to anyone that the retail landscape is changing. According to D’Loren, this disruption stems from two things in particular: technology and consumers’ behavior.

Previously, trends were dictated by designers and brands. You’d have a runway show, the media would report on the hot new trends coming out, and then they’d hit the stores months later. Now, however, consumers have the ability to spot new trends in real time, thanks to smartphone technology and social media.

Unlike many marketers and branding experts who push the idea of “experiential” retail as a major driver of sales in this new shopping environment, D’Loren disagrees. “When you think about the most successful retailers—TJX and Zara—it’s not experiential. It’s about the customer: give them what they want, when they want it, and at a price that is fair.”

“When you think about the most successful retailers—TJX and Zara—it’s not experiential. It’s about the customer: give them what they want, when they want it, and at a price that is fair.”

He refers to Apple as another example of a company that caters to customers’ need for control and ease of use instead of focusing on some gimmick to drive traffic into their stores. As he put it, “the brilliance [of Apple’s retail plan] was that they eliminated every friction point in the store. Clean, open sight lines. Easy-to-test products. Someone always there to help. And you didn’t have to go to a register to check out.”

“The brilliance [of Apple’s retail plan] was that they eliminated every friction point in the store. Clean, open sight lines. Easy-to-test products. Someone always there to help. And you didn’t have to go to a register to check out.”

For D’Loren, that’s the key: focus on eliminating the customer’s pain during the shopping experience. In other words, give them a great product, make it easy for them to find it in your store (or e-store), and help them get out of there as quickly as possible with their purchase in hand.