Miriam Lahage, General Manager eBay Fashion
04 Nov. 2011
Q&A: MIRIAM LAHAGE, VICE PRESIDENT & GENERAL MANAGER, EBAY FASHIONAfter having created and implemented the digital strategy for TJX companies where she worked for more than 20 years, Miriam Lahage had launched UK’s first online designer outlet, Koodos.com, in 2006 and profitably resold it three years later. Followed by her position as a consultant for luxury e-retailer Net-a-porter, the American joined eBay in 2010 where she now takes care of the e-giant’s fashion business as Vice President & General Manager eBay Fashion in Europe. Sportswear International talked to the ‘superwoman of e-commerce' who loves color but prefers to wear black herself. Interview by Maria Hunstig
Which differences do you see between fashion habits in your mother country, the USA, your current residence, the UK, and Germany?
Today, there are more similarities than there used to be. In the US, people generally let brands define their style. For me, London always had and still has the most interesting street styles. You can observe new trends in East London before you see them anywhere else. I like Berlin a lot, too. In the streets of Berlin, it is impossible to define somebody’s origin by the way they dress as people are mixing their style from different influences and combine pieces in an individual way.
How does the German market match eBay’s fashion section?
The German market is very interesting for us. There are several online-only players and also former mail order companies who have emerged into e-commerce but the traditional retailers and brands in Germany haven’t made big online business yet.
eBay can help them achieving their ambitions. We have 16 million users in Germany and we are the medium to connect these users to the retailers we work with and provide them with unrivalled customer demand. It’s important to understand that eBay is not a competitor to its retail partners, but a supporter who gives them a sales platform.
What do you think of the fact that more and more websites are now launching “marketplace” concepts (e.g. Asos)? What it so special about this idea?
I think Asos has done well in the creation of their marketplace section. It communicates a certain streetstyle atmosphere. Marketplaces are an awesome concept, I mean; eBay is its originator after all! And as always, if a concept has established and works out well, others will try and imitate.
The marketplace idea behind eBay allows customers to create a signature style and compose their outfits in an individual way. The mixture of vintage clothing, slightly-worn items and new pieces which have just been marked down for the first time is our unique selling point.
eBay is a platform traditionally associated with household goods and electronics. How do you strengthen eBay’s fashion image?
During the past months, eBay’s Fashion Outlet has been completely re-launched including an improved landing page and navigation.
In the US, it was very ‘image-shaping’ that we have collaborated with a few designers (e.g. Derek Lam) who developed capsule collections sold exclusively on eBay.
In Germany, we have initiated our brand campaign which has been introduced through print and outdoor media earlier this year in April. The adverts show a mix of vintage and new fashion worn by “real people” who look just like the girl-next-door, only a bit prettier. It’s about the democratization of fashion and about inspiring and animating people to shop and be proud to say: “I have bought this on eBay”.
eBay lookbook f/w 2011/12
To additionally underline our relevance in the fashion world, we have developed our own lookbooks for the last two seasons which transport a more creative look and feel. For our latest edition (f/w 2011) we have teamed up with well-known stylist Leith Clark and hired German blogger Anne-Kathrin Bieber from les-attitudes.com as our model.
Moreover, there have been several on-page optimizations; the website’s framework and functionality has been reworked and new features have been installed. We have, for instance, improved our profile function where a customer’s favorite brands and looks are saved in order to increase the relevance of products presented to him/her. Moreover we have implemented “eBay Fashion Exclusives”, separate flash sales with a limited running time.
What are your aims for the future?
Of course we want more brands and retailers to come on board the eBay Fashion Outlet. We are going to leverage latest technologies, especially in the field of mobile commerce. And we always strive to offer the most amazing assortment to our customers. There will also be further global designer collaborations in the future. One designer I personally like very much is Erdem. I love his collections and the multicultural background behind them. And guess what – my dentist recently told me that Erdem is actually his patient! How cool is that?
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