Bluefly has undergone a considerable transformation over the last few years. At one time a public company, Bluefly went private after an affiliate of Clearlake Capital Group acquired the company.
“This was a good brand that had strong traffic and access to designer inventory, but it needed to be refreshed,” Grover says. “We came in to take its core assets and great team members and morph the company into more of an Internet business.”
For its traditional business, Bluefly wants its buyers to be fashion industry experts on the lookout for the best fashions, styles and trends. The company is working to support them through upgraded technology, ensuring strong inventory and building a better overall customer experience.
“The focus for products we hold in our inventory is on finding the high-end designer products, working with top brands to ensure excellent product availability and great prices,” Grover says. “We are constantly replenishing products where we see demand, and we have great supplier relationships.”
To enhance its e-commerce experience, Bluefly has invested in upgrading the imagery on its site. Using state-of-the-art technology, Bluefly can create images of products in its own production studio to ensure high-quality images of all products. The company’s e-commerce system can change the look of the product model as customers browse products.
In addition to carrying inventory brought in by buyers, Bluefly has created a fashion marketplace. This allows third-party brands and merchants to sell through the Bluefly website.
“We still want to be selective and provide high-end brands and experiences, but we built out our technology so we could bring third-party brands on to the site to sell direct to consumers,” Grover says. “We’ve been adding some niche brands and have brought on about 1,600 brands selling direct through our site. We are also making our imagery technology available to the brands selling on our site.”
Grover and his partners had previous success with the marketplace concept while at Buy.com. The idea was to create the best high-end user experience at Bluefly, starting with top brands and website enhancements. “A new version of the website will be coming out this fall,” Grover says.
Additionally, Bluefly has partnered with a new warehouse provider that has the ability to get shipments out faster, providing the company with better delivery times and enhancing customer service.
“We have upgraded every aspect of purchasing, delivery, fulfillment and customer service,” Grover says. “Our goal has been to leverage Bluefly’s traffic and experience while introducing more brands to our customers and more of our customers to our brands.”
When Bluefly buys product for its own inventory, it looks for the best deals. The fashion marketplace concept still allows Bluefly to have a robust traditional offering while also allowing brands to showcase the rest of their collections to Bluefly’s customers. This essentially expands Bluefly’s inventory, and Bluefly is paid a commission for fashion marketplace sales. Additionally, Bluefly handles customer service for customers shopping in the fashion marketplace.
“Our buying and merchandising teams need to be at their best so we can curate and showcase the products customers want in our inventory,” Grover says. “And the marketplace helps us introduce new brands. We have a careful vetting process, as our team knows what customers want as part of a high-end and unique experience. We have technology that allows us to showcase products to customers, and we can reach out to customers through targeted messaging.”
As the company moves ahead, it will continue to focus on customer service and finding ways to improve all aspects of its operations. Generally speaking, e-commerce continues to improve its ability to serve customers every year. Bluefly knows that it will stand out for the wrong reasons if it does not excel from a service perspective.
“Better inventory is key, and the investment we’ve made in our production studio allows for consistent and additional images of products,” Grover says. “Shopping for fashion buying online is different.
“We want to limit reasons a product could be returned, so we need to have as much detail upfront on products during the purchase experience, which helps us to increase conversions,” he adds.
Working to improve its technology platform so it provides the best user experience will be a continuous effort for Bluefly. The company aims to enhance the fashion marketplace experience and product selection so shopping with Bluefly is a win-win for customers and brands.
“There is no other high-end fashion marketplace like ours, and it is unlike commodity marketplaces,” Grover says. “We have to deliver a high-end experience for all of our brands, as well as for our customers.”