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LVMH’s Ian Rogers on the death of the chief digital officer

Ian Rogers at the New York Times International Luxury Conference
Ian Rogers at the New York Times International Luxury Conference

The role of the chief digital officer shouldn’t exist, says Ian Rogers, who is himself the chief digital officer at LVMH, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent.

Speaking to Liz Bacelar in Hong Kong during The New York Times International Luxury Conference, he argues that for any large company, the role should be merely transitional as brands become accustomed to a future where digital is simply embedded within everything that they do.

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“The word digital and the insinuation that this transformation is about technology is really misleading and it makes people make the wrong decisions. So what I really want to convince people of is that this is not a technological change, it’s a cultural change,” he explains. Instead, the role should evolve into a chief technical officer who sits at the executive table alongside more established players like the CFO and the CEO itself, he notes.

Rogers joined LVMH in 2015 at a pivotal time for the group, which like many luxury players was navigating a new consumer demand for more digital experiences and introducing e-commerce to its more traditional brands.

Since taking on the role, he has helped LVMH launch multi-designer e-commerce platform, 24 Sèvres, invest in affiliate shopping platform Lyst, and scale LVMH’s presence on China’s TMall platform from zero to 12 portfolio names.

Ian Rogers and Liz Bacelar
Ian Rogers and Liz Bacelar

Rogers big focus is on the customer, he explains. He brings that learning from his previous career in the music industry, where he led the launch of Apple Music after it acquired Beats Music and Beats Electronics for $3bn. Understanding every customer touchpoint, which now begins with digital, is key for a successful experience that navigates seamlessly across all channels, he explains.

During the conversation, Rogers also talks about how it makes sense that luxury took so long to jump into e-commerce; why CEOs don’t need to know technology intrinsically; and what he’s driving at LVMH to keep up with the level of experience the customer expects online.

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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What you missed: Warby Parker’s face mapping, Black Friday plans, Amazon Go is ready to go

Warby Parker's face mapping
Warby Parker’s face mapping

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech industry news over the past week.

  • Warby Parker’s app is cleverly using the iPhone X’s face mapping to recommend glasses [TheVerge]
  • Why REI and Modcloth will close on Black Friday, and prosper [RetailDive]
  • Amazon’s cashierless store is almost ready for prime time [Bloomberg]
  • The industry remembers Azzedine Alaïa [BoF]
  • Tech titans José Neves and Ian Rogers on the future of luxury fashion [Evening Standard]

  • Shoppers expected to spend £10bn during Black Friday bonanza [TheIndustry]
  • Stitch Fix’s highly anticipated IPO was ¯_(?)_/¯ [QZ]
  • Farfetch losses grow despite skyrocketing revenue [Retail Gazette]
  • Will the year of ‘the drop’ change fashion forever? [Fashionista]
  • Is the second wave of sustainability finally here? [Refinery29]

  • Inside Snapchat’s battle to win back its momentum [BoF]

  • Australian department store tells the sweet Christmas tale of an expat gingerbread man [AdWeek]
  • Keira Knightley sings in French for Chanel Coco Crush campaign [The Impression]

  • Amazon’s last mile [Gizmodo]
  • Amazon could be worth $1 trillion in 2018 [RetailDive]
  • Spotify expands merch to beauty products [TechCrunch]
  • Rituals is overhauling its app to compete with the likes of Amazon, but it’s treading carefully [TheDrum]

  • Alibaba’s AI fashion consultant helps achieve record-setting sales [MIT Technology Review]
  • Poshmark builds a styling tool for Amazon’s Alexa powered devices [Internet Retailer]
  • How brands and start-ups are using AI to help you get dressed [Fashionista]
  • Vogue US partners with Apple on augmented reality feature [BoF]

  • Fashion’s interest in alternative fabrics keeps growing [NY Times]
business digital snippets e-commerce social media Startups sustainability technology

What you missed: Amazon Prime Day, LVMH’s Ian Rogers, Colette’s closure

Ian Rogers, LVMH
Ian Rogers, LVMH

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech industry news over the past fortnight.

  • Amazon’s Prime Day proves to be biggest shopping day ever [Bloomberg]
  • Ian Rogers, LVMH’s chief digital officer: ‘We sell culture, and the culture’s changed’ [Glossy]
  • Get ready for the internet of Louis Vuitton things [NY Times]

  • The cost of dead inventory: retail’s dirty little secret [BoF]
  • Burberry among companies committing to 100% clean energy [Bloomberg]

  • Does the fashion industry still need Vogue in the age of social media? [Guardian]
  • Chinese social media in 2017: what you need to know [Jing Daily]

  • Benetton launches Power Her Choices family planning campaign for UN Population Fund [The Drum]
  • How Reebok used influencer reviews to break into the competitive running category [Digiday]
  • Benefit in hot water over UK ‘skip class’ messaging [BrandChannel]
  • How Adidas is using micro-influencers [Digiday]

  • What Colette’s closure means for fashion [BoF]
  • ‘Trapped’: How Amazon is cornering fashion brands into wholesale [Glossy]

  • 3D printers start to build factories of the future [The Economist]
  • How Walmart uses AI to serve 140 million customers a week [VentureBeat]
  • How Adore Me used AI to double its active customers [Glossy]
  • Alibaba launches low-cost voice assistant amid AI drive [Reuters]

  • Felix Capital raises $150M to double down on tech startups from the ‘creative class’ [TechCrunch]
  • Luxury authentication start-up gets $2.6 million in funding round [WWD]
business e-commerce technology

LVMH’s Ian Rogers on viewing ‘digital’ as oxygen, focusing on ‘internet’ as culture

LVMH Ian Rogers
The Business of Fashion’s Imran Amed interviewing LVMH’s Ian Rogers during #BoFVoices (Image: BoF)

The fashion industry has to get rid of digital as a silo and integrate it throughout its organisations, said Ian Rogers, chief digital officer at LVMH, during the Business of Fashion’s Voices conference this weekend.

“When you make sure [digital] is a part of communications, a part of retail… that’s when companies do well,” he explained. But more than that, he urged for everyone to actually stop calling it digital.

“It doesn’t mean anything,” he continued. Hailing from the music world where he was senior director at Apple Music and before that CEO of Beats Music, he added: “We didn’t talk about digital when we were at Apple, that’s like talking about oxygen; it’s everywhere.”

Instead, he suggested we use the word “internet” instead. “A lot of what’s happening right now… there’s a technological part that people are really scared of. This is not a technological revolution, it’s a cultural one. It’s about the internet, which is much more specific.”

The internet, he explained, has fundamentally changed culture, and changed humans in the process. “If you replace digital with the word internet, then you start talking about this thing that connects people. So you’re contextualising it properly. Or use the word innovation where you would have used digital. So how is the internet changing culture and how do we innovate to get to the next place?”

What’s great about that, is that fashion is, at its core, also a culture business, he noted. “We sell culture as a prerequisite to selling product. If you don’t buy into the culture of a brand, you’re not going to buy a €3,000 handbag.”

Since arriving at LVMH, Rogers said the main bulk of his work has been around “untangling knots” – presumably tied to the silos the group works in across its brands including Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Marc Jacobs, Loewe, Céline, Givenchy and others. But he also spoke positively about the future of the industry based on this idea of digital or the internet, as a shift in culture. “The great thing for me, is that underneath [the knots at LVMH], there are still the same lessons that we learnt in music about how culture has changed.”

The positive side for the luxury business, he added, is that the disruption music felt when consumers shifted to digital, will be less impactful.

“[Luxury] doesn’t suffer from the same fundamental value loss as music, because you can’t put that product on a thumb drive and hand it to a friend. You have these products that are made traditionally and I think there is more value to handmade and craftsmanship than ever in a digital world.”

His shift to working for a luxury business lies in the fact he believes the industry is in a great position in terms of the way the world is going. “This is a super smart industry that understands culture better than any other,” he added.