Luxury brand Valentino and Yoox Net-a-Porter Group (YNAP) have partnered to create a new omnichannel business model called Next Era, designed to improve customer experience through greater visibility and access to inventory across fulfillment centers and stores.
YNAP has powered the Valentino.com online flagship store since 2008, and said that arrangement was the basis for a new model enabling Valentino to use an order management system YNAP created in partnership with IBM that offers Valentino a single view of its inventory and a comprehensive profile of its customer base. Customers will gain access to inventory from Valentino boutiques and logistics centers, as well as YNAP's global network of eight fulfillment centers.
Customers also will get in-store mobile features, including smooth checkout flow, full new product information and availability of online inventory. This should result in faster delivery, with an enhanced service available in major cities where orders can be fulfilled from Valentino boutiques.
Yoox and Net-a-Porter merged about two years ago, and this new model that it is implementing for Valentino sounds a lot like what it had in mind back then as far as using technology and a broad set of expertise to boost e-commerce and fulfillment for luxury brands. As part of the Next Era project (not the most imaginative name, but accurate, we guess) and in addition to the fulfillment improvements, YNAP also is revamping Valentino's website, providing it with a new look, mobile-centric interface, and artificial intelligence-enabled personalization functions and contextual search, enabling customers to use natural language to interact with the digital store.
At its heart, however, this is more about revamping fulfillment to help both Valentino and e-commerce sites operated by YNAP, including Net-a-Porter and Mr. Porter. By integrating the Valentino inventory with inventory from those sites, shoppers on all sites will have better access to a wider array of inventory, along with a wider variety of delivery options, including ship-from-store in some cities where Valentino brick-and-mortar stores are located.
After flat growth in 2015, luxury brand sales were set to grow last year and for the next few years, but apparently the current state of affairs is nothing like what it was a few years ago when new wealth and tourism from China left piles of money at luxury retailers around the world. Investing in omnichannel and more flexible fulfillment capabilities doesn't exactly guarantee more spending, but should at least decrease the likelihood that shoppers will leave these sites unhappy, and will finish purchases they might have abandoned before of lack of available inventory.