Oh hey there, Nelly-Ange. Caught by my love of the Kardashians! Long may they reign.
Hi CB, training of new sales experts is something that is absolutely critical for peach’s mission to survive and you hit the nail on the head there to wonder how the company can ensure consistent quality as the sales team grows and how they can ensure consistent experience which is critical for the company to succeed. At this point, peach is small enough that the head office is largely able to control the selling experience and the onboarding and training of all of the bra experts but if the company grows at the rate that it is hoping to, then the current training model will not work. The answer might lie in regional offices or regional managers who host weekend seminars to train up new bra experts and to be certain that the messages are being learnt. Conversely, peach could double down on the ‘online’ strategy which would mean that they would need to increase the training in terms of the technology but could rely on fewer bra experts who could cover and unlimited geographic range and hope that in doing this peach was able to continue to control the selling process.
Your question of the perfect fit is also a great one! I would guess, though the company has not confirmed this, that the bra expert would try to sell the bra that was the closest to a good fit with the hopes that it was more comfortable and more supportive than what the woman was currently wearing – most women are wearing bras that are totally wrong so if you can minimise the amount of ‘wrong’ that there is that is a great first step. Also, peach is collecting huge amounts of data so as they accumulate this data and are able to work through it the style, sizes and types of bras that they will be able to offer will expand and will become better fits for women of all shapes and sizes. The use of data doesn’t just end there though! Ask a woman about trying to buy a bikini top! Bikini tops suffer from all of the same issues that bras do and there are even fewer choices and focuses on sizing there. There is also a growing market for mastectomy bras, women who have suffered from breast cancer, as well as other health-related issues and so with data there are so many exciting and valuable things that peach can do!
Hi GVS, you are the only person who asked about what they do as they expand the product line and that is a critical question that peach has, great lateral thinking! As you correctly noted, a large percentage of peach’s revenue comes from the ‘basics’ that they sell which is everything that are not bras, i.e. leggings, underwear, cardigans, etc. One of the biggest issues that peach is facing with this is that their number one selling point for these items is the fabric that they use for them. peach uses a special microweave technology that create wonderfully soft clothing that fall in beautiful lines, but over the internet, a customer cannot feel the fabric and so the beauty of it is lost. As I mentioned in the post, one of the bra experts can try the products on which has been seen to help with sales but it is still an issue the company is trying to solve for as the customer does not have the products with her during the initial trial. Another option would be to send samples in the correct size to the customer in the same box that her bras are sent in so that she can feel them and decide whether she would like to keep them or to send them back but that is expensive and requires a lot of upfront inventory to ship out, as well as difficulty with inventory turnover as the company will not know what products have sold and what has not for a few weeks. Your concerns around how to sell basics and privacy are spot on with what the company is thinking though, very astutely noticed.
Hi NT, really thoughtful questions, thanks! I am glad that your partner knew enough to actually go to get fitted – that is one of the biggest hurdles that peach is experiencing, many women don’t even know that they aren’t wearing the right bra size and so baseline education is the first step. peach has created a 10 step algroythm that they believe is the answer to finding the right bra size. Currently, when a woman goes in person she is measured on the distance around her ribs and the size of her bust, and that is it. peach has built out a model that takes into account all sorts of different things, including the fact that many women do not have completely symmetrical breasts. The 10 point measurement system allows peach to suggest not only the right size of bra but also the right type of bra, should a women be not even wearing a bra but wearing a bralette, for example? I agree with you that the concept of online fittings takes some getting used to, as I mentioned in the post, I did it and it was strange, but I think if the algorythm truly works then being in person should not be relevant and women who have been being measured in person and trying to wear the right size through a trial and error method can save themselves all of that time and discomfort.
Hi Jordan, thanks for this post. eSports is a rapidly growing industry and one that I know very little about so I was excited to read your post and to learn more. I would be interested to learn your thoughts on if you think a permanent player salary might ever be implemented within the industry – at the moment players are paid via sponsorship and tournament wins only but as the viewership grows and demand for eSports increases it would make sense that the players might demand a salary. If so, who would decide what salary bands to set and the contracts around it? I wonder if there is an opportunity for an overarching governing body to be created, similar to the NFL, etc. to control the sport. What if the players unionise? Could they then require payment from all sources, the game creators, tournament hosters, advertisers, etc.? This is a really interesting field that you have written about, one where there is likely to be a great deal of change over the next few years and I am glad that you turned my attention towards it as it will be fun to watch the industry change and grow.
Hi Jordan, these are some really good ideas, especially the one about becoming the “fit experts” and some of them I think that peach might not have thought of, thanks for sharing them! peach has a social mission, as well as a profit based one, to help women become their own small business owners and so with that in mind I think that an important part of its business model is always going to be the direct selling aspect. As well, they believe that it is important to have the personal touch that peach gives in order to create an experience that is contrary to one that a woman experiences at Victoria’s Secret. That being said, I agree with you that the scalability of the company is called into question when so much of the operating model relies on interactions between people.
Perhaps a way to supplement the main business model of peach’s would be for the company to license out the fit algorythms and best in class training programmes that they have established to train their bra experts to other apparel companies and create a recurring revenue model on the subscription of the software at the same time as still operating the initial, core business model of peach.
Hi Nicole, excellent point! I worry too that as peach expands the high cost of human capital that they are currently paying for will be too much to make sense. One good side to the current model is that all of the experts are contractors, they are not salaried, meaning that they are paid on commission and only when a sale is closed, so, as with Uber, peach is not paying for any idle or downtime with them.
The company has not told me this, but I also wonder if down the road they might make more of a push to automate moe of the selling process and to remove human interaction as much as possible as their systems become more intelligent and refined.
Hi Nelly-Ange, great questions!! Very insightful! One of peach’s main value propositions is that they have created a proprietary 10-point fit algorythm that they use on every woman to measure her to ensure that she is wearing not on the right type of bra, but also a bra where she will be the most comfortable, i.e. should she use underwiring, should she use cross-back straps for extra support, etc.?
For years, the industry’s biggest brands, (Victoria’s Secret, etc.) have based the molds of their cups on a single pair of breasts. Dorothy Galligan was a 1970s cabaret singer-turned-bra model who had the most in-demand bust for decades. Dorothy was what the industry deemed a perfect 34B in terms of circumference, shape, and the way she filled out a bra so brands used that as a base and would size up or down from there. The issue with this is that almost no other woman in the world is Dorothy’s ‘standard 34B’ and therefore the majority of woman are wearing the incorrect bra size.
Couple this with peach’s target demographic – middle age, middle income women in small town America. Currently, Victoria’s Secret (VS) is pretty much the only option for these women in terms of somewhere to purchase bras. VS is expensive, covered in life-sized photos of suggestive 18 year olds whom the mothers shopping there will not look like, and has almost nothing that is not a plasticy-push up bra. Conversely, peach offers these women a chance to be fitted in the comfort of their own homes, with their own mirrors, lighting and sense of security by a friend who understands her potential insecurities and the base way to increase her comfort as they work together to find a bra that fits. The selling over the internet would still be from one friend to another, it would just allow the women who are in more remote locations to have this same opportunity thanks to the removal of the obstacle of geography.
Hi Brittany, I’m so glad that you brought up ThirdLove and True&Co because they are great examples of what others in the industry are doing and of the fact that the industry is going through a digital revolution. I tried to do some research on both of these guys as competitors when I was writing my post and whilst they both have good websites, etc. my main takeaway was actually that they were relying too much on technology – at least for now – and therefore not helping the consumer correctly.
Both the ThirdLove sizing app and the True&Co surveys don’t actually really work yet. There is huge potential for them as they improve – think the IBM Watson case that we read – but at the moment they are mostly used as a marketing ploy and as a way to collect as much data as the companies can so they can fine tune the back-end of their algorythms and in time have powerful digitisation running their companies.
As an example, ThirdLove runs on the idea of, “you know your body best, answer these questions”. peach believes that actually you don’t know your body or what you are doing otherwise you would be wearing the correct bra size – it is hard and confusing to know how to measure oneself – come to peach and an expert will help you. peach would argue that without an expert you are no better off than being in a shop in person so they are changing the consumer experience by educating their customers.
Hi Nasty Woman, your concerns are very astute and valid! peach would refer to itself as being a ‘direct selling model’ but the differences between direct selling and multi-level marketing are somewhat murky at best. peach’s belief is that they are empowering women who often do not have another good option in terms of a career – women who have to move often such as military wives, or women in remote locations – and as such are being part of the solution, not creating a problem. I asked the Director of Fit Experience whom I have been in touch with your question to see what her thoughts were and she said the following, “It’s way bigger than bras; we use a social commerce model to empower women to build and run their own businesses, changing the world they live in.”
This post makes me so happy, Daniel, I would not be true to myself if I did not admit that I love the Kardashians. I too have been amazed by the independent rise of Kylie out of the fire that is the Kardashian clan. The family as a whole has so much traction and fame that to be able to differentiate oneself to such an extent, as Kylie has, and to monetise that differentiation so successfully is difficult and impressive.
Kylie is often sited as a social media savant, SocialBlade’s breakdown of her social media status proving this point further, “http://socialblade.com/instagram/user/kyliejenner”. Prior to technology, it would not have been possible for Kylie to achieve both the fame and also the wealth that she has. Social media and technology has not only provided a platform for Kylie to create and to communicate with fans around the world, but it also has removed the high fixed cost of advertising and PR that celebrities of old used to need to pay for. No longer needing to fight for earned and paid media, Kylie can blast her social channels as often as she would like to to update her fans, in fact, she is encouraged to with special filters from the snapchat head office and promotions from other social media sites. (http://www.teenvogue.com/story/kylie-jenner-birthday-snapchat-filter).
Are there drawbacks to this open access to the internet for Kylie and for her brand? The ease with which Kylie can post, and the positive reception which she receives, might lead her to make unwise decisions at points with regards to what she is saying or doing in her posts. Hubris might lead her to a fall. To try to control against this Kylie has hired account managers for each of her social media outlets, (http://starcasm.net/archives/356073) as well as to help her to stay ‘on brand’ with a consistent message. Whilst this is a good first step, I would caution Kylie to also ensure that she does not over-post and frustrate her fans with too much insight into her daily life dealings, a little mystery is always a good thing!
Thanks for this post, harajukugirl. You lay out really well the innovations that Rebecca Minkoff has worked into its stores and why they may or may not be good additions. One of my main concerns lies with Margaret’s in a similar vein of, adding these digitisation advances to its stores is well and good but does it actually do anything to stem the floodwaters that are flowing to e-commerce? Does it actually solve the issue?
E-commerce is a $220B market in the US alone (http://www.business2community.com/ecommerce/rise-rise-e-commerce-statistics-trends-business-can-capitalize) and whilst the brick and mortar market is $3.9T in the US, the gap between the two is closing quickly. Even with more purchases still being made in stores, two-thirds of in-store shoppers will stick check prices online on their phones before buying. (https://www.nchannel.com/blog/retail-data-ecommerce-statistics/). I worry that whilst the Minkoff in-store additions have grabbed it some good PR and add an element of interest to its stores, the barrier to entry for others to do the same if very low, as you pointed out with Ralph Lauren, and the research and development dollars are not being spent in the right place which is optimising both the product and the experiences for an online world.
Nelly, this is a very powerful posting. Thank you for writing it and for sharing your research and your thoughts, I learnt a lot from this! The current ‘normalcy’ of police violence, especially against minorities, in our country is unacceptable and whilst I would like to say that I am hard-pressed to find a person who disagrees with this, I think we all know that that is not the case. This article in the National Review highlights that when it writes, “the left-wing media has created and sustained the false impression that America has a crisis of police shootings”. (http://www.nationalreview.com/article/439426/police-shootings-media-created-fake-crisis).
Whilst I do not believe that technology solves this issue, as at its core, it is a human issue, I do think that technology can hope to improve it somewhat. The dissemination of body-cameras to police officers should be the force wide and should be a requirement to be worn and to be turned ON at all times – why not have it on as a police officer is on his beat as well? If he is driving too quickly, sitting in a parking lot and eating, etc. there is no better way to catch it then to have him hoisted by his own petard. Until the police force is required to have cameras, that are recording, with them at all times they are on their beat, and the station is required to release the footage, I fear that body cameras will not make the difference that we need in police brutality.
Another technological advance that I would like to see implemented is a twist on the current ‘smart guns’. At the moment, there are many companies that are working towards building out safety features that prevent guns from being fired unless biometric data of the owner can be found. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_gun). Whilst this does help with potential mass shootings, this does not help to solve the issue of police brutality. It seems logical to me that there should be some kind of safety measure that can be put into a gun, entering a 5 digit code, etc. before it is able to be shot so that a police officer cannot shoot on site and has to think before an impulse reaction kicks in. An Israeli startup called, ‘Zore’ has created something a little bit like this. (http://www.geektime.com/2016/06/15/israeli-gun-safety-startup-zore-launches-a-smart-lock-to-keep-weapons-secure/). Whilst I do not think this would solve the issue, I have hope that this, and other technologies, might help to move us in the right direction as we wait for humanity to catch up.
I am so glad that you wrote about Wimbledon and the technology that they are using, Nicole, this is actually something that my Mum and I talk about a lot! I am very anti-technology at Wimbledon. I think technology has fabulous applications in many places but when one layers it into the Wimbledon experience the Tournament loses its authenticity, and in my mind, much of its value.
I remember from growing up when they started using the Hawkeye technology that you mentioned in your post. I was frustrated. It belittled the role and need for the umpires and their word was no longer the final say. Human error is a part of life, and definitely a part of sports, and to remove that element eradicates a part of the game. Many people in England felt similarly when Wimbledon decided to upgrade Centre Court’s technology by adding a retractable roof that would close mechanically if the weather turned. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centre_Court). This is an example of Wimbledon, ‘missing the point’ again. There used to be so much suspense that would be built up around a championship match that was two sets in and then had to be paused for the rain, the concept of there being an ability for random chance to play in heightened the excitement of the match.
All of this aside, my main objection to the new Wimbledon / IBM partnership lies with your comments, Nicole. What does Wimbledon gain by implementing this expensive software asides from a potential PR nightmare? One intern could do a 5 minute browse on Twitter and see what the general consensus was in terms of which player people were supporting and the merchandise at Wimbledon is almost 100% ‘Wimbledon’ merchandise – meaning products in the Wimbledon green and purple with the Wimbledon logo. Unlike other sports, it is not player specific, and to change that would be thought of as crass by the majority of the English population. I am frustrated and annoyed that this new technology has been implemented and as you did, Nicole, I question the value that it is really even adding.
This is a really well written and interesting post, Sho-time, thanks for sharing! Your comment on the hospitals saving money was an interesting one, I had not thought through EHRs thoroughly enough to understand that the utilisation of the hospital staff would increase after the EHRs had been implemented and the staff trained. However, as you correctly stated in the “risks” section of your post, there are logistical challenges with implementing a new system within any organisation and one, such as a hospital, where every second costs money and every second could be critical in saving a person’s life. I wonder if hospitals are at a point where they have the flexibility to be able to choose to implement a new system.
As well, utilisation of healthcare staff will drop significantly as the new system is implemented and, as we saw in the FIN case on Partners Healthcare, the margins in hospitals are often as low as 3% per annum, not leaving any room for error or disruption within the system. This Hospital Report shows Operating Margins at 2.6% for the hospital. (http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/lists/200-hospital-benchmarks-2015.html). Do you think that although there are significant upsides to hospitals switching to EHRs tat perhaps established hospitals are not at a place where that is possible and instead we should focus on implementing and teaching this in medical schools to the next generation of healthcare professionals, and implement it in new hospitals, and have that be the way that we start to integrate it into our medical world? The other alternative, that perhaps might be more effective, is to require that all hospitals switch over at a certain point and have emergency services on hand to accommodate for the dip that there will be in outcome and productivity, though this does not deal with the financial risks and how insurance might perceive any errors made by the healthcare staff during this time. I would love to know what you think.
Hi Billy, you raise a really good point with your concern about the long-term viability of XL Hybrids! You are absolutely right that if the cause it is hoping to help – climate change – starts to “win” and more electric cars start to be on the road and in fleets then XL faces a serious issue of relevance for its current clients.
I think what will be key is XL continuing to innovate on the products and solutions that it has for its customers as well as to continue to build new answers as the regulation landscape changes and new avenues are opened for improved processes to the CO2 emissions troubles for fleet managers. Thanks for your comment and thoughts!
AntelopeM, this is a very well articulated and unique blog post that I really enjoyed reading, thank you! I was glad that you mentioned some of the barriers to entry that you see with this business model as reading your post that was one of the major questions which I had, what allows this company to enjoy the lead that it currently holds in the space, both as a thought leader and as a profitable business.
One of the main fears that I would have with this business is that, to some extent, this is quite easy for large, well-funded companies to enter into the arena and to start doing, especially ones that share some of the same core competencies as Xylem and ITT. As regulation changes and more companies are forced to put actual money and innovation where there mouth is and develop sustainable practices, I worry that Xylem’s lead will start to diminish.
The, “conscious oversight, monitoring and reporting” that you mentioned in your post intrigued me as I was thinking about other potential business models or ways for Xylem to expand and to keep its competitive advantage. Perhaps there is a growing market for Xylem to move into as a consultant to businesses who, though regulatory and social pressures are feeling a need to add sustainability to their business practices, and Xylem could work with the company to find the most cost effective ways to do this. The combination of Xylem’s industry expertise and and ability to help them to implement positive changes with other companies could by Xylem’s golden ticket.
Sho-time, these are great comments and some really good insights, making me think, thanks!
XL’s belief is that the rate of fleet replacement isn’t expected to be less than 15 years. This should give XL the time to create strong relationships with the companies as they a). innovate and develop more products and b). have the potential to spin out into a data company. You are absolutely correct that the threat of fleet replacement is very real for their business model and that ensuring that their business model is always taking advantage of carbon credits and regulations in their favour will be critical for success.
This blog post adds great context and insight into Marriott International, how they think about climate change and some of the levers that they are pulling to combat it. Thanks, Craig!
From reading your post, I wonder if Marriott should be putting more pressure on those in their supply chain and partners that they work with to improve their sustainability efforts, as well as making the improvements in-house that they are, as the joint impact of the two initiatives would be significant. I think of Walmart when I read your post. Walmart is similar in the sense that it is the dominant player in its industry, has many, large locations that it is operating 24 hours a day and interacts with many other entities in order to remain a going concern.
In my mind, Walmart has set an impressive precedent for how large corporations should deal with their supply chains and partners to improve sustainability across the board, as Walmart says, “Although primary responsibility for compliance with Walmart’s Standards for Suppliers rests with the supplier, one way in which we drive a responsible supply chain is by identifying areas where Walmart can leverage its size and influence to assist its suppliers in making a positive and lasting impact on the people and communities from which they source.” (http://corporate.walmart.com/sourcing/promotingresponsibility)
Marriott is in the fortunate position to be able to “force” a change in its suppliers due to its sheer size and, as a bystander, I think that is something that they should do. If they announced that they were only going to accept detergent for their kitchens with no palm oil and made from sustainable sources, the positive impact that that would have further down the supply chain would be huge, it would force their suppliers to figure out how to source their raw materials sustainably or Marriott would switch suppliers.
Whilst I agree with Walmart’s statement that the onus should be on the suppliers to be making positive changes in their own internal processes, with great power comes great responsibility, and as the world’s largest hotel chain, I think that Marriott has a corporate responsibility to do the right thing and to force a change not only internally but with their external partners as well.
This is a well written and thoughtful blog post about Vail Ski Resorts and the difficulties that they will face in the future due to climate change. Thank you, Margaret.
An interesting parallel to your post on Vail that can be drawn is what Russia did for the Sochi winter Olympics in 2014. As this article states, (http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/4/5377356/sochi-winter-olympics-2014-subtropical-transformation), Sochi is a subtropical resort by the Black Sea with an average temperature of 52 degrees in the winter. Though the area is picturesque, it is not an obvious, or easy place for Russia to have chosen to host the winter Olympics. Due to its geography, when February rolled around and the winter Olympics were about to begin, there was not enough snow for many of the sports to be able to effectively compete and so Russia had to go into crisis mode.
As mentioned in your post, Russia had to start producing snow that they would transport up the mountain to cover the slopes in order to have the appropriate landscaping for the Games to be run. Interestingly, Russia was not the only country where this happened, the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver experienced a similar issue, “buckets of snow had to be airlifted to top up the slushy covering on the hay bales that were being used to create artificial mounds in the tracks.” (Ibid).
The 2020 winter Olympics are to be held in Beijing which is quite controversial for two reasons, 1). Beijing will become the first city to host the summer and the winter Olympics, and 2). there is now IOC has decided that being in a mountainous region that produces snow is irrelevant and the winter Olympics will start to be hosted in a more diverse set of locations where the snow for the events is all pumped in. As the BBC writes, “It’s a sad day when the International Olympic Committee cannot even clear one of the lowest bars for choosing the host city for the Winter Games: snow”. (http://www.bbc.com/sport/winter-sports/33747313)
This is a thoughtful and well articulated blog post, thank you!
Your discussion of the product mix that the freight trains of Union Pacific carry was particularly interesting to me. I had thought about the impact of fuel costs on freight transportation before but not about the implications to the business in the broader context of how it is affected by the commodities that the train cars are carrying and the companies that produce them. In that sense, Union Pacific has a vested interest in not only continuing to develop and to implement more efficient fuel practices in their trains, but also to incentivise their customers to improve their own sustainability practices so that Union Pacific’s business partners do not start to struggle to produce their goods.
One thing that would have been interesting to talk about, had you had more room, was if there is any focus on trying to create hybrid freight trains or electric freight trains, instead of ones dependent on fuel. According to this Wikipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_train), functional hybrid freight trains do exist utilising regenerative braking to charge the storage system. A hybrid train was first conceived of at the turn of the twentieth century and has been trailed in countries across the world from Japan, to the United Kingdom, to America. The first trials in America were in 2004 and engineers are hopeful that if this hybridisation is able to be implemented successfully it could cut down on emissions up to 90%! This would be an interesting and exciting new avenue for Union Pacific to explore.
This was a very well written and interesting blog post, thank you! I was particularly intrigued with the part where you discuss how climate change will affect how much food can be grown and that the environmental limitations that are predicted to occur would lead to an increase in food prices in the future.
A thoughtful addition to the post, had you had a larger word count to elaborate, might have been to discuss the rise in innovative agriculture, for example, aquaponics, hydroponics and lab-grown food. All of these processes allow for the growing of healthy, organic food in urban environments and in small, indoor spaces. These innovative techniques in food production are growing rapidly and are creating a new segment of the agriculture industry where biologists, economists and business people are coming together to work to build a sustainable and profitable solution to the predicted food shortages in the future which you mentioned in your post.
To learn more about my comments above and where the information came from check out the ‘United States Department of Agriculture’ website and drill down to the ‘Alternative Farming Systems Information Center’. A link to that center is here: https://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic