Gustavo García Brusilovsky is Klikin&Waylet’s CEO. The executive, founder of BuyVIP, reflects on the transformation of e-commerce’s fashion sector in a situation of change.
Gustavo García Brusilovsky is Kilkin&Waylet’s CEO and co-founder of several other online fashion companies. The executive, expert on e-commerce’s fashion sector, has carried out several entrepreneurial projects during his professional career like the creation of the BuyVIP company, for instance, which was sold to Amazon eight years ago for a price of 75 million euros.
MDS: In the times of omnichannel strategies, is it logical to talk about e-commerce?
Gustavo García Brusilovsky: I would say so. Omnichannel is long being talked about, but we are only just starting to see it function. There are barely no omnichannel brands. Companies that start something brand-new, when they are tired of experiencing it, is when it starts to work out. Omnichannel strategies have been talked about for a long time, but the stores I see now are practically the same as the ones from ten years ago.
MDS: Is Spain running late in e-commerce matters?
G.G.B.: If we take into account the rest of Continental Europe, then not really. Compared to Italy, for instance, we are way ahead. Perhaps the greatest difference is seen in the United Kingdom, which advances in a faster rate. In Spain, all homes have internet, so now it’s only a matter of time that the cultural change is implanted. Millennials already think differently.
MDS: Will e-commerce produce one third of retail sales?
G.G.B: That’s the million dollar question. There are people, much more aggressive, who see a longer run, rating e-commerce above the 40%. I am more cautious in that sense. There will be a time in which one third of sales will strictly be online, two-thirds omnichannel ones and only one third physical.
“Until now, no one had a mathematician in their team, but now they are being looked for, because it is quite a challenge to go from data to intelligence”
MDS: Which two or three elements are restraining e-commerce’s growth?
G.G.B.: When I started, the first restraints were ways of payment and infrastructures. But one of them is no longer scary to carry out and the other has upgraded and modernised. The obstacles now are consumers are not at home for deliveries; the immediacy demanded to certain products such as alimentation and finally, that there are products that are rather bought online. On the other hand, not for all retailers is it profitable to have e-commerce. Take large supermarkets, for instance.
MDS: If you had money to invest, which web business would you invest in?
G.G.B.: When we started selling clothes at BuyVIP, we were told we were nuts. We proved them wrong and we succeeded, but because back then brands did not have e-commerce yet. Then came discount coupons, and now is the time for home delivery. With the apparition of marketplaces, many brands started to sell online, and now there is not one store that is not selling online directly. Furthermore, brands with no physical stores are also coming up. Ultimately, I think I would invest in new models of business.
MDS: Any model specifically?
G.G.B.: I kind of miss having a brand that provides an omnichannel experience from the very beginning. I would also invest in new distribution models, in someone that could completely reinvent what we have today, which is actually quite standard.
MDS: Is the advancement of e-commerce the only one to blame for Retail Apocalypse?
G.G.B.: It does not make much sense because e-commerce’s penetration does not entail a reduction of stores. It does have to do with new consumers who are looking for something else, something more. A similar thing happened in Spain with TV: before, there were two channels, but with the arrival of new ones, the former were seen for a shorter time. Internet, thus, is a facilitator.
“I miss having a brand that provides an omnichannel experience from the very beginning”
MDS: In a commercial street there is a limited number of stores, but the web is endless…
G.G.B.: E-commerce is a facilitator for more brands to get into the market. And the only thing left to achieve is that traditional retail adapts to it, because there are no substantial changes in that matter. Then, on the other hand, you can purchase on Instagram whilst you look at a friend’s story. And then there is Amazon, which is releasing its very own brands.
MDS: Is it more challenging to be competitive online rather than offline?
G.G.B.: Completely. Making online profitable is hugely challenging. In Madrid’s Gran Via street, for instance, there are four or five flagship stores that are really helping each other creating a fashion cluster that ultimately attracts people. But online is a competition with just about everyone on the web, with Amazon, and with a brand that came up six months ago too. For this environment, lifelong skills are of no use. There is a huge number of products that get lost online, so perhaps it is time to start organising it.
MDS: Will the tension between Walmart and Amazon reach Spain, involving El Corte Inglés and Amazon?
G.G.B.: They are not quite similar. Walmart is doing it right. It is one of the few instances in which a real reinvention has taken place. They are the only ones who have had the courage to fail but also learn how to play with the advantage of having physical stores.
“With the apparition of marketplaces, many brands started to sell online, and now there is not one store that is not selling online directly”
MDS: Is Latin America e-commerce’s new mecca?
G.G.B.: There are some interesting countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Peru or Chile, although their size is still way too small. However, it is their turn now. It is one of the few territories left to conquer, together with Africa. The rest is already picked.
MDS: Does one have to take a look at Asia to know which will be this sector’s future?
G.G.B.: Yes. There is a different kind of product and a different consumer. Their model is the one that has unbeatable prices with no-brand products. I would compare it to an all one euro supermarket. Notwithstanding, Amazon, Alibaba and JD.com are compelled to battle against each other if they want to keep up their current rate of growth.
MDS: In the same way as fashion chains transformed the industry, will e-commerce do the same too?
G.G.B.: Of course. We are living at a time in which stocks cost the life of two or three companies every year.