Interview with Joor CEO, Kristin Savilia

Despite the surge in direct to consumer, wholesale is still a key element to fashion business. That’s where companies like JOOR come in. JOOR is a global wholesale platform facilitating over 50 billion dollars in wholesale transactions. More than 12,500 brands and 300,000 curated retailers across 144 countries connect on the platform daily. JOOR has exclusive partnerships with over 30 of the world’s leading retailers including Neiman Marcus, Harrod’s, Shopbop, and Intermix along with leading conglomerate companies including LVMH, Kering, Richemont, and Capri Holdings.

The company has seen stupendous success under its current CEO Kristin Savilia, a retail and e-commerce industry professional with a plethora of experience under her belt in building online platforms and supporting marketplace transactions. Savilia was previously president of the Local Marketplace at XO Group Inc. and has worked in the buying departments of Macy’s and Linens N’ Things. Now, she’s proving that wholesale is more powerful than ever.

A lot of brands are going direct-to-consumer. What would you say to convince someone to do wholesale?

Why would you limit your channel, especially today? A lot of direct-to-consumer brands have already leaped wholesale, which is the opposite of what people think is happening. As a brand, you should be doing both direct-to-consumer and wholesale. It’s important to get your brand distributed to as many places as possible where there is traffic.

Many of your brands are exclusive partners to JOOR. How do you convince them to partner with you exclusively?

We’re very fortunate to have the size and scale that we have at 57 billion dollars in GMV and wholesale. We’re the industry leader. In exchange for connecting retailers with the number of companies we have on the map; we ask for exclusivity so it’s something special. JOOR selects these partners and we curate who we bring into the mix. It’s an exchange we feel is fair because we both help put you on our map and guarantee them an audience in return. We want to make sure this marketplace stays special.

How do you think technology helped the fashion industry evolve during the height of the COVID-19 era when brick-and-mortar stores were on lockdown?

JOOR is helping further globalize the fashion industry

Technology saved the fashion industry. Imagine what would have happened 30 years ago when there was no internet and no way to do business. For the wholesale part of things, which we handle, we enabled business continuity right when the system was shocked. What was funny for us was before the pandemic, JOOR was predominantly a mobile-first company. We still have a mobile platform. Everybody was using it for their showroom appointments and trade shows. At Fashion Week, everyone brought their iPads to do business.

For three years, JOOR had a virtual showroom available for desktop platforms that almost no one used. No matter how much we tried to convince them, they just said we have mobile. As soon as the pandemic hit, we were inundated with phone calls asking about the virtual showroom via desktop. We were lucky we were prepared. Traffic for us now is 25 percent desktop, and the rest is mobile.

People are not going to go back to the old way of doing business, and that’s a good thing. With JOOR and the virtual showroom, it’s possible to produce fewer physical samples and start producing 3-D samples. For small businesses that don’t have the funds to constantly travel, this is very beneficial.

What does JOOR look for when selecting a brand or company to partner with?
We’re looking for companies who want to replace paper line sheets. We want people who want to collaborate on video calls and place final orders. JOOR responded with a whole bunch of new tools during the pandemic as we learned from our audience and saw what their pain points were.

I’m a former buyer at Macy’s, so that gave me the perspective of knowing how companies need a blank canvas to begin pulling the items they were interested in buying. We have a new program called the editor where you can make style boards. This makes things faster and creates less need for samples.

What do you think needs to be the next frontier for e-commerce?

Congress has a lot of things to think about, like sustainability. Companies are focused on personalization, and some of them are great at it. Companies also need to improve their search functions. Companies need to work on better data tags. If someone is looking for ripped jeans in a white wash, they don’t want to have every denim offering pulled up.

Proving authenticity is also very important. Luxury brands are loving NFTs right now. You need to be able to prove a product is authentic.

What would say is the secret sauce to building an online platform?

Listening to your consumer, but never build them exactly what they ask for. The analogy I like to give is the only Henry Ford one of mechanics. People told him they wanted a faster horse; he created the car. JOOR takes that same philosophy. We try to understand the problem and find a better solution. No one told us to create the EDIT for mood boards, but we did anyway, and that was a hurdle. Successful companies need to learn from their audience and innovate without their consumers telling them what they need right out.

Over 144 countries connect on JOOR. What do you think is happening with the fashion industry internationally causing this shift?

The democratization of digital has been huge, along with the ability of everyone to show on JOOR. We have partnered with a bunch of governments to help put Spanish, Japanese brands, and Turkish brands on the map. These brands have never had access to Neiman Marcus or Bergdorf Goodman. Our platform was able to put these brands next to the Italian and French brands that these same buyers were looking for it, which caused a tremendous shift in the industry. These brands could finally be shopped without borders.

How is JOOR beneficial to small, independent brands and retailers?

We work with 65,000 small-to-medium-sized businesses. We are an aggregator for small businesses and we have more GMV in small businesses combined than we do with major brands and retailers. There is strength in the numbers for JOOR. Sometimes a major department store might look at a small brand and say they are too small to be carried in our store, but we can connect these brands with 1000 smaller retailers and businesses.

What do you think is the most major way fashion has changed since the pandemic?

The way fashion operates has changed. Brands have a better understanding of the digital infusion. The supply chain demands have changed and so have the buying cycles. Buyers are starting to buy products and put them out closer to the time they’re holding markdowns. You don’t see back to school happening in August as it used to when kids aren’t even back to school yet.

How were wholesale partnerships impacted by the pandemic?

Initially, it was a shock to the system. Only e-commerce was functioning during that time, and they were seeing increased demand. If you were a brand on JOOR during the pandemic and you got canceled orders from brick-and-mortar stores, we were able to shift your goods to where they needed to be on e-commerce websites.

What would you say customers want from a shopping experience now?

On the consumer side, they are expecting personalization. They want a clean website. Shopping needs to be fast. On the buying side, people want to move away from Excel spreadsheets and paper line sheets. They recognize things need to be digital. They don’t want to travel if they don’t have to.

What do you think is next for the future of fashion?

You will see a focus on sustainability. Everyone has these sustainability goals. JOOR is poised to play a crucial role to many of these retail players in meeting those goals. We can tell retailers what brands presented here are sustainable, and if there aren’t enough sustainable offerings, we can make changes. We provide the opportunity for retailers to be true to these commitments.

Diversity is also going to be another important issue in fashion. JOOR recently launched a program to help put more Black designers on the map.

AI is going to play a more important role in helping retailers get deeper insights into how customers are buying. NFTs are also going to be big for the luxury fashion space.


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