Gucci's parent company Kering brings digital functions in-house

Kering is looking to bring several functions in house, in a bid to strengthen its omni-channel capabilities. According to a press statement, Kering’s group innovation team has been tasked with two missions. The first is to instill an internal culture of innovation (test-and-learn approach, quick sharing of discoveries, scouting business trends), and the second is to work on disruptive technologies to further improve the client experience in the future in terms of business or environmental matters.

One area that Kering is looking to bring in-house is its e-commerce function by 2020. E-commerce is the fastest growing channel for all Kering’s Luxury Houses and represents 6% of the Group’s total retail sales for the first half of 2018.

Moving forward, it will leverage on its in-house technology and operations team to fully internalise the e-commerce activities currently handled through the joint venture with YNAP. According to Kering, it had been working with YNAP for seven years, these e-commerce activities will transition to Kering in the first half of 2020.

"Coordinated efforts and shared expertise with YNAP have enabled Kering Houses to enhance the level of service of their e-commerce websites. Most of them now offer services such as check availability, reserve in-store, make store appointment, pick-up in-store, return in-store, exchange in-store, and buy online in-store,” it said. The group will also continue to develop partnerships with third-party e-commerce platforms when relevant.

Meanwhile, a data science team has been created at group level to improve the service provided to the clients of Kering’s Houses by making the best use of the available data. A China-based client and digital team is currently being formed and the team will be responsible for adapting digital practices to the Chinese market, along with identifying and promoting innovations from China to other markets.

Kering is also working on a suite of apps in partnership with Apple to be used by Houses staff in-store, the first of which is a store experience app that enables sales associates in-store to access stock levels in real time to provide their customers with a fully personalised service. Via the app, sales associates know instantly if a specific size or color is available in-store or if it can be ordered from other stores; they can also give customised styling recommendations. In addition, Kering is exploring advanced technologies with Apple to further enhance client experience on iOS devices, including improving the payment experience in-store.

The team has also developed a new approach to customer service with centralised teams in Europe and the US focused on addressing customers’ requests. Gucci, Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta have dedicated teams, while other brands grouped their efforts under a single customer service unit, operated by Kering on their behalf.

“All brands use best-in-class digital tools that provide their client service representatives with a 360 view of each client, enabling them to deliver a fully personalised experience,” the statement said. Globally, it has also launched several pilot projects using data science techniques to deliver personalised messages and experiences to customers, based on their profile and purchasing history. The statement added that all Kering Houses have launched or are launching WeChat mini-programs in order to build as close a relationship as possible with their Chinese customers and to offer social commerce.

Kering’s chief client & digital officer Grégory Boutté added: “These exciting new initiatives have been designed to meet - and exceed - the needs of our Houses’ customers and to ensure we continue to offer them an exceptional experience across all channels in a fast-changing global market. These opportunities have been made possible by the experience and know-how that Kering has gained over the years, notably through its successful joint venture with YNAP. We will continue to work with them post-transition and to enjoy a fruitful relationship.”

In a statement,the group also added that digital is at the very heart of Kering’s Houses strategies. "In a fast-changing environment, the success of Luxury Houses depends upon their ability to offer bold creative propositions, an exceptional customer experience that is consistent across all distribution channels, and a unique customer relationship on all devices," it added.

Boutté joined the group in 2017 with mission to carry out Kering’s digital transformation and to take the lead on e-commerce, CRM, data science and innovation for the Group.

“Digital can be many different things at once - a distribution channel; a platform for offering seamless omni-channel services to clients; a driver of brand image and visibility; and a tool for engaging with customers in a personalized way. Digital technology, data science and innovation provide a way of offering our customers the best possible experience – on every touchpoint," Boutté said.