Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, Massimiliano Tirocchi, chief marketing officer and co-founder of direct-to-consumer shapewear label Shapermint, covers how his company uses consumer data to inform strategy and why fashion needs better forecasting.
Name: Massimiliano Tirocchi
Title: CMO and co-founder
Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain? What can apparel learn?
Beyond a single industry, we’re closely following the application of AI in the supply chain. New technologies are allowing companies and tools to provide you with predictive insights, anticipating demand for specific products in certain areas. In this way you can be more efficient with your planning, better strategize where to allocate inventory and be more effective in terms of delivery time.
We have seen AI’s impact on the supply chain in the food industry, where it really matters how precise you can be in planning and anticipating demand.
How would you describe yourself as a consumer?
It really depends on what I want to buy. I usually prefer to buy online and do most of my research and decision making there. I prefer going to the stores to buy clothes, but only when I know specifically what I want to buy.
I would describe myself as someone who is open to new brands. I enjoy seeing what startups or new brands have to offer, but at the same time I’m loyal with those brands that I think are delivering good quality.
As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?
Quality. I look to brands to deliver what they promise, and the ones that really stand out to me, and often surprise me, in terms of quality get my attention for future purchases.
For in-store experiences I think that attention is key, from how store employees welcome you up until the purchasing process. The people in the store represent the culture of that company. It’s their mirror, so I see the brand in them.
What’s your typical work uniform?
For work, I have a set of the same type of T-shirts from the same brand, but with different colors. I know I have the right fit and it’s really comfortable. I pair them with jeans and casual shoes.
Which fashion era is your favorite?
The current one, if we can say it is a fashion era.
What’s the best decision your company has made in the last year?
Data and consumer data is key for us. The best decision we have made is to put the consumer as the center of the feedback, understanding them from a rational and emotional perspective. With a strong research and consumer insights department, we are constantly learning and adjusting our campaigns, messaging, products, brands and imagery with the consumer point of view top of mind.
We’ve created real-time dashboards and monthly committees, which present key insights and leading indicators for customer experience (NPS), product rating, advertising and campaign sentiment—both quantitative and qualitative. We make decisions based on this and take specific actions to improve, and have seen positive results.
How would you describe your corporate culture?
We live by our core values and we have an extensive hiring process to identify if talent will be a fit with the company. We are ambitious, disciplined and dynamic, with a growth mindset applied to all the areas of the company.
We believe in transparency and having an aligned and visible goal so everyone can understand how they can make an impact. All of this is backed by a strong desire of positively impacting people’s lives from the inside out.
What can companies learn from COVID-19?
Companies need to have a flexible structure and processes in place that let them make decisions and move fast in an organized and aligned way. Open channels of communications within the company ensures teams know what the direction is, and that they are motivated by it.
What should be the apparel industry’s top priority now?
The apparel industry’s top priority right now should be to improve how to manage forecasting and inventory without a clear anticipation of what is going to happen next, or how consumer behavior may change. As things are changing fast, weekly updates about consumer trends, sentiments and behavior can really help in making decisions.
What keeps you up at night?
I’m always thinking about what can be improved in terms of processes, communication and team structures.
What makes you most optimistic?
Even with COVID-19 unfortunately having a huge impact on life as we know it, it has also pushed entire industries to change their way of thinking and operating, anticipating almost five to 10 years of growth in just four months.
Tell us about your company’s latest product introduction/service:
With technology at our core and fitting as a main opportunity to improve in the industry, we have been testing and introducing Fit Predictor successfully in numerous products and categories. We’ve seen this allows the consumers to have more trust when placing an order, increases the amount of consumers having a fit ‘as expected’ and reduces the return rate.