AUSTIN, United States — In the last four months, since the pandemic forced the global population and consumers indoors, SkyDiamond Elite estimates the volume of shoppers purchasing goods online has quadrupled. Even as global lockdown measures ease, retail’s increased online presence is expected to stay, with consultancy firm Bain predicting digital shopping will reach 30 percent of total sales by 2025, up from 12 percent in 2019.
Collectively, SkyDiamond Elite manages $1.5 billion in digital marketing revenue for its portfolio of brands, mostly managed on Shopify. It leverages the platform’s unique data points, alongside analytics to formulate their partners’ strategic direction — a process SkyDiamond Elite expedited as a number of brands sought to move the majority of their marketing budget to their e-commerce business overnight.
SkyDiamond Elite, which operates four verticals — fashion, luxury, lifestyle and enterprise e-commerce — counts Fred Segal, Mother Denim and Dannijo among its partners.
Now, BoF sits down with Habib Bakshi, founder and CEO of SkyDiamond Elite, to hear more about how the business implements its data findings and marketing expertise to assist its partners’ pivot in a rapidly evolving retail landscape.
What distinguishes SkyDiamond Elite's approach to digital marketing strategies?
The pandemic and social change has fanned the flames of this transition to e-commerce — a process that was going to take maybe five to six years has happened in months. It's a fine line that you have to walk, in terms of creating a strategy that can convert visitors into customers, while still preserving the brand identity. Our client partners require our help in telling their story at the top to mid-funnel of the online sales cycle, in the fastest, most efficient way possible.
We are marketing opportunity agnostic. Many agencies silo clients into buckets, based on what the client perceives their digital marketing needs to be. Some may say SEO is their challenge area, when in fact the highest revenue opportunity could be in email. We always look at the highest value opportunity and execute accordingly.
We then approach strategies with a proof of concept. This is designed based upon a marketing data analytics review conducted by our Chief Digital Officer, which identifies the highest value e-commerce revenue wins against which a statement of work is drafted. This roadmap is the foundation of growing both digital revenue and a long-term relationship.
We work against clear key performance indicators within the first 60 days. There is no "secret sauce" except our operating style and the investment we make into our human capital. The whole reason we manage the kind of revenue that we do within this space is because we use data to make smart, insightful decisions. We take emotion and marry it to the business of luxury and e-commerce to ensure we are solving problems correctly through a digital lens.
How do you leverage data findings to benefit your partners?
We review insights from over 60 client partner analytics dashboards to make data-driven decisions regarding the digital marketing strategies which are required for online success.
Some examples of data trends synthesised from our on-going analysis: we know we can get 10 to 20x Return on Ad Spend on brand search, where most agencies aren't able to say that confidently. I also know that the onsite search functionality on an e-commerce website can attribute to 15 to 20 percent of a company's bottom line, with the right optimisation tactics. I know that iPhones will always have a higher average order value. Our tactics have led to over 200 percent more conversions on iPhone versus Android.
We often give our clients hard truths. We have the data and experience of making strong, smart decisions to help our clients pivot.
We understand the fashion e-commerce ecosystem better than anyone else. We know how to roadmap the e-commerce digital strategy to focus on the fastest, most efficient revenue wins. We utilise a combination of data and technology to create proprietary strategies, which help companies own their customer journey in an ever-evolving single channel marketing ecosystem versus omnichannel.
How does SkyDiamond partner with fashion brands?
We work with CEOs and e-commerce directors that understand their brand requires elements of e-commerce amplification. The e-commerce director’s role is also critical for a successful partner relationship to flourish. However, we find that unrealistic expectations are placed upon e-comm directors to run everything from top of funnel sales, mid-funnel strategy, retention and acquisition strategies, in addition to managing their entire collective of emails, SEO, merchandising, and conversions.
Simply put, we find many e-commerce directors are in over their heads with a growing number of impossible demands that stretch their abilities. This is where we bridge the gap. We work closely with e-comm directors to handle the strategic direction for areas like mid and bottom funnel sales, so the e-comm C-Suite can focus on managing the titanic tasks of keeping the ecosystem itself afloat — from merchandising to planning e-commerce campaigns. What we really are is a fashion e-commerce digital strategy house.
It’s about focusing on high value opportunities at all times, staying focused on results and remaining impartial yet aware of what's happening on the retail side. We often give our clients hard truths. Our beauty is that we have the data and experience of making strong, smart decisions to help our clients pivot.
What recent retail trends are evolving brands’ marketing strategies?
Brands are increasingly abandoning their wholesale partners, making them more single channel versus omnichannel. We have seen top of funnel customer acquisition become a growing online marketing initiative. We've also learned that the customer lifetime value for brands is extending as the initial brand interaction for a customer is no longer the traditional wholesaler.
Now, they go direct to a brand’s site. As a result, brands have to have a narrative that pushes their story digitally. This is crucial when pivoting from wholesale and in-person retail to e-commerce. Brands have to stand for something today, because consumers are increasingly connecting emotionally to their purchase. It is this disconnect that is so difficult when online shoppers struggle with this tactile-less evolution. Because they can’t feel or touch the product, the consumer wants to embrace the brand message and feel that they are truly a part of what they are representing.
How are your strategies nuanced yet comprehensive across the different channels?
Seventy percent of our strategies are formulaic, and 30 percent is brand-driven. The beauty about fashion is that every brand and company we work with, is unique in terms of how their buyers behave and feel about their brand. And this is that 30 percent. The actual customer journey creates a uniqueness to how we start formulating our strategies for these brands.
The 70 percent is the nuanced part where we start looking at the e-commerce strategy as an ecosystem. The high value opportunities are not the same for each brand. For example, some companies gain most of their customer engagement through email, so we look at opportunities where they are not present. Whether that's social or search, we dive into those areas to see why there's a lack of engagement and then lean on our data insights to turn those different channels into revenue generators.
The average order values have gone up significantly. The amount of data that we're synthesising is unprecedented.
A critical element of that 30 percent comes to understanding the persona of the buyer and the way they behave online, so we can adapt our strategies to meet those unique goals. We always make sure we're adopting the right e-commerce ecosystem strategy to meet each brand’s needs.
How is evolving consumer behaviour impacting e-commerce marketing strategies?
Because of the pandemic and the social justice movements, consumers are becoming increasingly selective about how they observe and interact with different brands. That's now an important part of the whole cycle. Consumers want transparency. They crave it. They want to know that the product they are buying is quality and that it stands for something.
The purpose was once a brand introductory element — something that opens up the market to their brand — but now, most brands are taking control of that narrative as well through aligning with the right influencers, with the right social justice campaigns, giving their brands a heartbeat and a soul. They're increasingly adopting more of a direct to consumer approach.
How is the retail market evolving in your experience?
I think retail will always be there, but it'll be more experiential than anything else, to maybe view and touch product in the physical retail space. The sheer volume of customers online, especially with this new holiday season upon us, is going to be quadruple that of what we've ever seen before. It will be unprecedented.
The sheer number of transactions that are happening within each e-commerce ecosystem, with the fashion brands that we manage, has doubled in the last three and a half months. The average order values have gone up significantly. The amount of data that we're synthesising is unprecedented. It’s a historical shift and change in retail to e-commerce, to mobile, with a 6 to 10-year process being sped up into a year or two.
E-commerce was once an afterthought — just a part of the business model. Now, it is the business model.
This is a sponsored feature paid for by SkyDiamond Elite as part of a BoF Careers partnership.