Although they started out as a men’s luxury swimwear brand, Vilebrequin is increasingly viewed as a high-end clothing and accessories label. This is not only the result of the quality of their collections, but also thanks to their cohesive brand presence in both physical and digital channels.
Vilebrequin is best known as a high-end swimwear brand for fathers and sons. Has this market positioning changed?
It’s still the case today, even if we’ve taken the concept further. Vilebrequin was founded in 1971 in Saint Tropez, France and was originally a men’s swimwear brand. Twenty years ago, we added a collection for boys. Finally, we launched collections for mothers and daughters these past few seasons. This move has been so successful that today we receive mentions on Facebook and Instagram from families who are fans of the brand and wear bathing suits that use the same fabric or pattern, but of course, with the style picked fitting their gender and age.
We’ve also successfully developed ready-to-wear and accessory lines. Our products are very beachwear-oriented and range from linen shirts, pants and sweaters, to shorts and sleeveless vests. Considerable work has gone into the design of each garment – the quality and originality of our prints make our pieces unique. The best example of this approach is our polo shirt. We’ve never sold as much of this piece as we have this year. Fit, sizing, fabric – everything was carefully considered and re-examined. Our clients are particularly attached to features such as the two eyelets on the back of our shirts, which has become sort of our signature.
The popularity of our ready-to-wear collection is rapidly growing, particularly in Asia, where its sales are on par with our bathing suits. In Europe and the US, we’ve remained, above all, a signature swimwear brand. Today, our challenge is to make ourselves known for the rest of our styles.
Besides product diversification, what are your other growth priorities?
Digital growth, to start. Our goals are ambitious, both for our e-commerce site and boutiques. Our website receives orders from more than 100 countries and in terms of sales, Europe has even overtaken the US. We’ve doubled our online sales each year for the past three years and we’re predicting it will continue at this rate for another two to three years.
To speed up the pace, we adopted a mobile-first strategy, since 60% of our website visitors come from mobile devices. In addition to this major technical challenge, we’ve made many other adjustments to enable us to increase sales. For example, we relaunched our website in March 2017, a move which resulted in a doubling of sales for shoppers visiting via a mobile device, thanks to the new platform being more user-friendly, and the overall shopping experience being improved.
We also aim to offer more omnichannel services to our customers. For example, we allow them to purchase multiple items that will be sent to different locations, all in one transaction. If they’d like, they can also send one or several items in gift boxes with a personalized message.
You also mentioned you are digitizing your stores. What progress have you made with this objective?
In our stores, sales associates need to have access to digital tools to offer new personalized services and streamline the buying journey. We’re still in a test phase in Europe, but we’ve already equipped six of our stores in four countries with tablets (France, Spain, Italy, and Great Britain). With these devices, they get access to all the customer data we’ve collected over time, both online and offline. They can also use the devices to show customers our entire collection, something we’re not always able to do in-store because of the modest size of our boutiques, all housed in premium retail locations.
The mobile tablets also serve as additional checkouts when the stores are busiest and, most importantly, allow associates to order articles not available in-store at that time, ensuring we don’t lose a sale. The associate can place the order immediately and it’s fulfilled from our warehouse. The customer then receives the product at home or can pick it up at their nearby store.
Next year, we’re launching yet another service. Ship from store will allow us to collect an item ordered online from a store’s inventory and the customer will be able to pick their order up in-store or have it delivered as they wish. We also plan to add an “ultra-fast” delivery option that will guarantee delivery within two hours by courier.
It’s Yourcegid Retail’s three modules, Shopping, Clienteling, and Cataloging that will allow us to offer these omnichannel services to our customers. By digitizing our stores, our goal is, of course, to increase our productivity and our sales, but our objective is also to give the Vilebrequin brand a contemporary image. We’ve already innovated with our collections, so the natural next step was to modernize our shops with the in-store tools that will help our sales associates to better serve shoppers.
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