This week on eCommerce Insiders (our weekly interview series serving as an industry resource, for online retailers sourced from those in the know), we speak to the Founder of Brand + Commercial. Brand + Commercial is a publication focused on the commercial side of fashion, aimed at related business owners and decision makers. Its editorial content provides practical, actionable insight into the commercial issues facing fashion, retail and luxury companies. Despite it addressing a wide variety of topics around brand strategy and commercial development, Brand + Commercial also focuses on trends in emerging technology and the related legal implications since it began in 2012.
Brand + Commercial’s Founder, Ceci Joannou is passionate about the commercial side of fashion and about helping the brands of tomorrow establish strong operational foundations to future-proof their businesses. Ceci has extensive experience in commercial distribution in the fashion and luxury sector, first in-house and later on a consulting basis, and continues to write for a number of trade publications.
Currently Brand + Commercial is preparing to launch +Co (currently in beta), a subscription-based digital directory that supports young fashion brands with searching and selecting appropriate wholesale partners. Here, Ceci speaks to Poq about her ability to multi-task her various roles and her insights working with brands and retailers.
(Brand + Commercial‘s Founder, Ceci Joannou — pictured above)
The lack of functional, actionable insight within the commercial branding space, was a deciding factor for you starting Brand + Commercial. Could you elaborate further on how the company came to fruition?
I started my career in the fashion wholesale space at a time when there wasn’t the level of online conversation on the subject of fashion, and running a fashion business, as there is today. Slowly, blogs and online publications did begin to focus on this space but it remained very much news-based. News is great, but it’s only gives you part of the picture. When you’re a small business owner or you’re responsible for the commercial development of a growing firm, reading that such and such luxury group posted double digit profits might be nice – it certainly gives you some indication as to the direction of the market – but it really doesn’t help you make day-to-day decisions about how to best manage your business.
Instead, I often find its those conversations you have with clients and colleagues, maybe at a trade show, maybe over dinner, that can really be most impactful. This is the kind of functional, actionable, perspective-led insight is really what Brand + Commercial is all about and really, what that pushed me to me launch the publication. It’s about continuing those great dinner conversations, but inviting everyone to the table!
Can you tell us more about your role as a Consultant developing growth strategies for commercial and luxury brands, and the first-hand insights you have gained from doing this?
Of course. Essentially I work with business owners to diagnose where the commercial pain points lie and help implement the most appropriate and cost efficient solutions. My specialty is very much working with small-to-medium sized businesses. Often here what you find is that there has been few resources allocated to strategic business planning and future proofing the business, so from a personal perspective its especially rewarding to see how much businesses thrive having had the opportunity to address these points fully.
This role has given me a fairly privileged vantage point. One observation that really struck me is that there remains a need for qualitative, B2B business information. I noticed this first years ago when I started out, working in wholesale in New York. How do you find great retailers to stock your line? Well, the typical answer is you do some data scraping here and there, but the information is inevitably imperfect: it’s often incomplete and typically housed in a messy Excel sheet.
This got me thinking. What if we could develop a more elegant solution? So that’s what we did. +Co, which we’re unveiling in beta this month, essentially positions itself as a digital wholesale database aimed at emerging fashion brands. What’s different about +Co is that it’s thoughtfully curated and it provides business owners with a high level of detail about the retailers and agents that are listed – you really get a complete picture of these business, without ever having to leave your desk. Additionally, designers can filter the database super intuitively, for example by region, target, or product category, which means they can identify highly relevant prospects quickly and easily.
What advice can you give to our readership of online retailers, starting their first foray into the world of commercial mobile commerce?
In developing +Co we’ve obviously been doing a lot of research to source the best high-end, independent, multi-brand retailers from across the globe, both online and brick-and-mortar, and digital presence is definitely something we take into consideration in our selection process. Its been interesting to observe that across this category, mobile-optimised commerce remains fairly under-developed – which is surprising when one considers how affluent smartphone users are increasingly turning to their device to make purchases.
That being said, the decision to enter any new channel must be grounded within the overarching goals of the business, otherwise it’s just tech for tech’s sake. Mobile commerce is no different. It may sound obvious, but the best advice is listen to your customer. I would urge retailers to really take time to understand what drives their customers’ behaviour and then and only then, choose a commercial strategy that appropriately addresses their needs.
Do you have a set strategical mobile marketing roadmap for Brand + Commercial, and if so do you plan to launch an app for this soon?
Of course, this is very much on our radar! Mobile offers some distinct advantages that could really help us achieve our business objectives, across Brand + Commercial but in particular, when it comes to +Co. Since mobile offers the capacity to blur online and offline, an app could lend itself to help business owners and commercial decision-makers better manage their commercial operations whilst on-the-go.
Still, right now for us it’s really about continuing to offer engaging content across Brand + Commercial and launching +Co in the right way, ensuring that we’re delivering when it comes to our core proposition. This is true both for brands, inasmuch as we are committed to providing highly curated, accurate and relevant business information, but also for retailers and agents, as I think its important that our selection process reflects a distinct taste level on our part.
To get in touch with Ceci, or to learn more about +Co, email email@example.com.
Ceci is available for consulting as well as speaking engagements and panel moderation. For more information, email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more, email at email@example.com.