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Touch Of Modern CEO Emphasizes Curation, Video And Mobile To Battle Amazon

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By carefully curating an assortment of products across apparel, watches, art and home décor, Touch of Modern aims to introduce its largely male audience to brand collections they wouldn’t find anywhere else. At the NRF Big Show, Retail TouchPoints Senior Editor Glenn Taylor had the opportunity to chat with Jerry Hum, CEO and Co-Founder of the men’s lifestyle retailer, to discover how the company is evolving even as it continues to serve that brand promise.

The 2016 Retail Innovator Award Winner shared insights into the retailer’s 2016 holiday season success, its continued push into mobile and the strategies he’s using to stand out in an Amazon-dominated e-Commerce environment.

RTP: What were your biggest lessons from your most recent holiday sales performance?

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Hum: Every year the holiday season gets earlier and longer. We were able to exceed expectations while running fewer promotions, and we generated a record profit. We tailor our promotion strategies every year depending on annual performance, so it was great that we were able to limit them so effectively.

RTP: As an e-Commerce only retailer, what steps do you take to differentiate the Touch of Modern brand, especially as Amazon continues thriving?

Hum: Amazon is about giving customers all the choices possible and letting them decide for themselves. They’re primarily a search destination. You know what you want, you search for it and you transact on Amazon. For us, when our customers open up and check their daily feed, they often don’t know exactly what they want. They’re looking more to be entertained by the new flow of products that we’re bringing to them rather than saying, “I need a power outlet and I need to find the best price for it.” No one goes on Amazon and thinks, “let’s see what they have today.”

For our site, we’re also developing an “Iconic Collection” a collection of brands that we weren’t able to get in the past for some reason or another. It’s more of a permanent collection than one of the event-based portions of our experience.

RTP: How has Touch of Modern adapted its e-Commerce offering to shifts in consumer behavior?

Hum: Mobile is always growing. Particularly around holiday time, people go out on vacation, spend time with family, or go out shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. Now with mobile, we can still be in contact with them while they’re taking part in those activities. I think every year we’re going to see that continued increase, and shift our strategy more toward a heavier mobile focus.

One of the advantages the mobile platform brings is it enables us to push new offerings consumers haven’t seen before front-and-center. These shoppers may not necessarily purchase these products immediately since they’re on the go, but many of them are likely to be intrigued and will then continue to view other products, either later on in that mobile visit or at a later time. This increases opportunities to drive more purchases on both channels down the line.

RTP: How will Touch of Modern continue innovating with its mobile experience?

Hum: Content. For us, our shoppers already consume more mobile content than web. We’re making a big push toward video, and we’re going to start integrating it into our evolving consumer blog, “The Manuscript.”

RTP: What are the keys to relating to an increasingly mobile-savvy audience?

Hum: In the past, a lot of retailers looked at mobile as just another channel that is a mirror of their web site, but from our findings, we found that mobile consumers behaved differently than web customers in terms of what kind of messaging they like to receive and how they actually shop on the mobile app versus the web.

We’re seeing significantly less price comparison before shopping on other sites, mainly because once you’re in the app, you’re already through most of the purchase process. On web, you can open up another tab and browse around.

RTP: Where does your mobile app fall into this strategy?

Hum: Our mobile app is actually our primary mobile platform, which gathers more traffic than our web browser. When someone downloads your app, they cross a lot of hurdles to do that. It’s not like they type in a link, bounce and then decide to come back when they want. They’ve taken the time to download software to their device, and that lets us push notifications to them and it means they’re probably going to come back.

RTP: What are the major trends that you think we’ll see in 2017?

Hum: In the general market, there’s a lot of development around AI and chatbot type technologies. I would say that it’s still a little bit early to see exactly how that’s going to end up for most retailers. I think retailers will integrate them into their customer service strategies this year, but the customer purchasing side will take longer.

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