Small Brands Go Big with E-Commerce
By Jessica Binns
Jeffrey wades into the web
One of fashion’s most experienced professionals, Jeffrey Kalinsky has built a devoted following of customers fiercely loyal to his pair of boutiques, Jeffrey Atlanta (established in 1996) and Jeffrey New York, which brought fashion retail to the Meatpacking District when it opened in 1999 offering a carefully considered mix of established luxury labels such as Givenchy and Yves St. Laurent alongside edgy, up-and-coming designers such as Undercover and J. W. Anderson.
But after 24 years excelling in the brick-and-mortar business, Kalinsky decided to face the times and take his company online in June. “I love shopping and going into stores, and that was always what I thought the experience should be when buying designer goods,” he says. “But I’m realizing in this day and age there are a lot of people who want to shop from the convenience of their own home. They live everywhere and might not be able to get to my store.”
What’s more, e-commerce can help counteract retail-dampening forces such inclement weather. “In 2013, we had the worst winter ever in New York,” he adds, noting that snow storms often prevent shoppers from getting out to stores.
To build its e-commerce site, Jeffrey partnered with Celerant Technology, its brick-and-mortar POS provider and a vendor of multichannel retail software. Kalinsky says selecting the right merchandise mix to carry online was his biggest challenge in setting up the boutiques’ website at jeffreynewyork.com. “I wanted to put online the inventory that I was most excited about that we carried in store and offer the same kind of boutique perspective,” he says.
“My store has always been about people who want to see the best selection and not have to look at a million things to do that,” he continues. “They’re presented a very edited version of ‘this is the best of the best’ and they appreciate that perspective.”
Kalinsky hopes his e-shop will perform as well as the brick-and-mortar stores, which typically sell 70 percent of product prior to markdowns (many department stores average 45 percent sell-through by comparison).