Hatch x Havaianas: The surprising value of implementing a digital showroom
Feb 22, 2021
Innovation has always been at the heart of the fashion industry. But it is safe to say that the outbreak of COVID-19 highlighted the need for innovative solutions while accelerating the industry’s digital shift. With the introduction of social distancing, lockdown measures, and new safety and hygiene restrictions, fashion brands and retailers had to adapt quickly and find new ways of working to safeguard their businesses’ future. Especially when it comes to wholesale, many brands had to reinvent the process while maintaining relationships with their clients.
Leading Brazilian lifestyle brand Havaianas was among the first to quickly embrace new solutions to streamline their wholesale operations, as lockdown measures made it impossible for clients to visit their physical showrooms. Seeking out a virtual showroom tool, the flip-flop brand from Alpargatas was the first customer to license Amsterdam-based Hatch digital showroom software for its EMEA region. By implementing Hatch's software and digital solutions, Havaianas was able to speed up its digitisation efforts within the company while offering a complete virtually-guided wholesale experience throughout 2020. The Brazilian brand conducted its entire 2021 selling season digitally, creating a streamlined, safe and consistent selling process for its wholesale team throughout its European, Middle East and African (EMEA) region.
“Shifting to a digital platform was already in our mind, but with so many things happening last year, COVID-19 made us realise that we have no choice but to adapt. The physical samples for the season were not going to arrive on time,” explains Merel Werners, EMEIA Marketing Director at Havaianas. The brand had already heard about Hatch and its digital showroom software, and at the end of April 2020, they decided to implement their showroom tool. It took up to eight weeks to set-up the entire platform, from signing the contract to launching the virtual showroom, and since then, Havaianas has not looked back. Utilising Hatch’s digital showroom lets Havaianas present its upcoming collections to clients online, creating an efficient, resilient and sustainable buying process while reducing costs, samples and increasing sales.
Showcasing its new collection to clients digitally virtually eliminated the need for physical samples’, making it a more sustainable switch for Havaianas as well. “We went from working 100 percent with physical samples for 2020 to 0 percent samples for 2021, which is a lot,” explains Werners. In the future, Havaianas aims to create physical samples of its newer shapes and innovative products so that clients can interact with them in person in the physical showrooms, but it will keep the rest digitally based. "We are working towards finding a better balance; between 15 to 20 percent of the new collections will have physical samples, and the remaining will be digitally shown." By implementing large touchscreens in its physical showrooms, Havaianas also aims to merge the digital and physical into a single consistent, streamlined selling process. This way, sales agents across the region can follow the same procedure when presenting the latest collection to potential clients, tailoring the offering as needed for their target audience and market. “The value of being able to create a consistent experience and journey concerning Havaianas story and products for our sales team was an unexpected addition,” points out Werners. “If you want to be a global brand, you have to send out a consistent message to clients and customers, and that starts with your brand message and products.”
In the end, 90 percent of Havaianas wholesale meetings with clients took place virtually last year, but that did not affect its wholesale business at all. Its selling season for 2021 was one of its most successful to date. “It is hard to say the exact reason why we had such a successful selling season, but the digital showroom definitely helped us make our season. It would have been impossible to show our new collection to clients without it.” Through the digital showroom, Havaianas created a seamless journey for its clients, sharing key content such as marketing videos, 360-degree product photos and product information on one single platform. Overall, client feedback has been very positive, with many customers sharing their enthusiasm for the digital showroom with Havaianas. "Although nothing beats face to face interaction, we are looking forward to seeing clients and welcoming them to our physical showrooms with the addition of the digital showroom shortly."
Unsurprisingly some of the Havaianas sales representatives were a little apprehensive about making the shift from physical to digitally selling. But in the end, with some help and training from Hatch, they pulled it off. “In the past, we used to say ‘No samples, no sales,’ but this changed completely with COVID-19. The human race is very adaptable, as long as we have good alternatives that work." Not everyone on the wholesale team is very digitally savvy, but once people started using the software, they really enjoyed it - "especially that everything was centralised in one place,” adds Werners. The positive feedback Havaianas received from their clients also boosted their confidence and underlined their decision.
The extra safety measures offered by Hatch's software, such as the fact that Havaianas clients and sales team could stay home and still conduct business as usual, was another unexpected positive outcome. Sales representatives could easily fit more meetings into a single day, due to a lack of travel time and not worry about physically having to tidy or organise the showroom in between meetings. “Implementing Hatch’s digital showroom has proven to be a great additional value to our wholesale business. Our CEO, Roberto Funari, says the brand has four foundation pillars: Globalisation of the brand, Digitization, Innovation and Sustainability. I believe that all four pillars align with the digital showroom - especially the innovation, digital and sustainability part.” Overall, Havaianas is extremely pleased with its latest digital solutions and is encouraged to continue working with Hatch to find the right balance between online and offline showrooms. "We are working together for our 2022 collection to make it even better."
To find out more about HATCH, go to hatchstudio.co