Thom Brodeur-Kazanjian is the CEO of Yandy, a leading US online apparel and lingerie retailer. He’s going to tell us about how he and his team accelerated their growth by aggressively grabbing an opportunity.
About the business
- eCommerce Business Structure – Online Only
- Product Range Scale – fairly niche
- On a Bespoke platform
- Based in the USA, selling globally
Listen to learn how their platform focuses on customer experience.
Thom started his career in mass media before moving into digital marketing, followed by working in SAS software technology companies. He became the head of marketing at GoDaddy, which he describes not as a domain registrar and hosting company, but as an eCommerce company that sells internet real estate and utilities. Before joining Yandy, Thom was involved in a number of venture development funds as the managing director or portfolio manager of eCommerce and SAS software companies.
Listen to learn how it’s all about the customer experience and being thoughtful about innovation, merchandising curation and assortment, and understanding how to delight your customer.
The Team Structure
Yandy is both a static and seasonal business. The static portion has about 100 employees headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, about 65% of whom are warehouse, logistics, and customer services representatives. Seasonally, specifically in October and November, there are significant spikes because Yandy is one of the largest retailers of adult Halloween costumes for women. During the last week of September and the first week of October, Yandy doubles in size to about 200 seasonal and temporary workers, then they scale back to their static 100 after the Halloween and Black Friday sales season is over.
The Big Opportunity
In September of 2016, Victoria’s Secret decided to exit the swimwear category, which at the time constituted about a half-billion dollar part of their business. This opened a vacuum in the market. Yandy seized the opportunity by doubling down on their design, production, and marketing investment in the swim category. In February 2017, they launched the 2017 Yandy Swim Collection at New York Fashion Week. Immediately after that launch, they became the official swim partner of the Miss Universe organization’s Miss USA competition, which is televised to 3-4 million people globally. In May 2017, Yandy entered a licensing agreement with Paramount to launch a Baywatch swim capsule.
Listen to learn how Yandy strategically looked at tentpole events and spectacle marketing moments to give themselves the opportunity to establish themselves as a top swimwear brand.
Yandy understands that their customer is a millennial who is dialed into social media and pop culture. They try to find pop culture-related things to which the Yandy Girl pays attention. In March 2017, Beauty and the Beast was released as a live action remake. Yandy seized that opportunity by creating a line of princess lingerie inspired by the characters that their customers grew up watching as young girls.
Listen to learn how Yandy built bridges between their lingerie and their Halloween customer bases by creating day-to-night pairings of Halloween costumes and correlating after-hours lingerie.
Top Tips for Seeing and Pouncing on Opportunities
You can be lucky once, but after that you have to plan your luck. Here are Thom’s top tips for planning luck:
- Experiment before you double down on something — Yandy waited to make sure their princess line would do well before adding more pop culture options, such as Game of Thrones and Harry Potter inspired pieces.
- Keep your eyes open for nuggets.
- Don’t overstep your expectations.
- Experiment, but build the necessary strategy to rollout that experiment if it goes well.
- Use that strategy for more opportunities in the future.
- Test your ideas in front of an existing customer or prospective customer base.
- Be committed to your plan.
- Be willing to hear criticism and allow it to land on you constructively.
- Be willing to fail and learn.
Listen to learn how Yandy tests their ideas on existing and prospective customers using social media and email.
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eCommerce Book Top Tip
eCommerce Traffic Top Tip
- Social media advertising
- Presenting and marketing products in marketplaces like Amazon or eBay
You can hear about all this on the podcast, for free – right now…
Tool Top Tip
- Five-minute drop-by, or going to personally talk to peers and then following up with an email instead of relying solely on email. In the age of efficient communication, we sit behind a device and lose touch with what ‘personal’ means. Walk away from your desk, put down your phone, and go see somebody.
Start Up Top Tip
Do your homework on the platforms that are available to you. Be thoughtful about the experience you want your customers to have, then do your research on what platform will get you there the fastest with the least amount of customization so you can hit the ground running and deliver that experience.
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