When the path isn't clear, the advisor you turn to should be.

10-Year Archive

Humanizing Tech

The Future of Luxury Retail

Introducing EVERAE’s refined eCommerce product for luxury corporate gifting

EVERAE, our gift-giving platform for luxurious corporate gifts. Experience it at http://8everae.com

I. The Corporate Gifting Problem

Corporate gift giving is abysmal. There’s just no beating around the bush. Whether you’re a law firm, a Fortune 500 company, or even a small startup or medium-sized family business, when it comes to the holidays, giving gifts is hard.

Heck, it’s not just holidays either. With some cultures, it’s customary. For example, we’ve done business with some of our favorite people in Japan, J-Stream, who handle large volumes of CDN and data streaming for many brand name corporations in the region. Part of that relationship is presenting formal gifts that aren’t just nice in isolation, but also tell a story.

And what about when a lawyer wins a big case, you sign a big customer, or pen a new partnership? Someone gets married, has a baby, a birthday, or it’s Boss’s day or Nurse’s day?

Name that brand, or company, that occupies that space in your mind. Likely you can’t.

Maybe you think of Amazon, but that feels like drowning in a massive ocean of potential gifts. Where to start. You can also go to department store gift sections online and choose by price but then you’re sort of limited to shoes or crappy trinkets or clothes, which doesn’t really give off the right vibe.

For example, if you give your administrative assistant high heels, people might start to look at you a little sideways. Or vice-versa when a high-performing young woman gives her boss a gift, how do you eloquently manage that situation while making the recipient believe it’s all strictly professional.

There is no room for signals to get crossed in corporate gifting. And yet, it’s so difficult that people just don’t do it because the potential risk is greater than the benefit. So what do we do? We give a bottle of wine, scotch, or champagne. Not that creative, is it?

II. Gifts for a Japanese Business Meeting That Tell A Story

As we alluded to previously, this describes a real-world situation in which I came up with, along with a few friends in the marketing department, ideal gifts that would send the right message. We spent at least a week going through various websites, and sharing links, trying to find elegant gifts for various people at various levels in the organization for an important meeting. I also upgraded the requirement that the gifts must hold a message with meaning. What you see below was produced about a year and a half ago.

Because the Analyst and Division Manager work together closely, we wanted gifts that they share so they could have a conversation about their gifts while they work together (and bring them closer together). We wanted to do the same with the Division Manager and the President. In terms of gifts, they should be presented in the following order, with the symbolism as follows:


  • Tiffany Pen: Responsible for signing important documents, but also holds an unspoken comment on the legal agreements between our two organizations. The President is the only person to receive a pen as he is the sole leader of the organization.
  • George Jensen Space Key Ring: He holds the keys to the castle, and represents the responsibility for the entire business (some shared responsibility with Division Manager and symbolizes working together).

Division Manager

  • George Jensen Space Key Ring: He holds the keys to the castle, and represents the responsibility for the division’s business. Note that there is some shared responsibility with the President and symbolizes working together.
  • Tiffany Playing Cards: Two sets of cards, black and white, to represent the internal work and external work between our organization and the Japanese, and us playing the game of business together. Note that the same gift to both GM & DM represents shared responsibility and working together.


  • Tiffany Playing Cards: Two sets of cards, black and white, to represent the internal work and external work between our organization and the Japanese, and us playing the game of business together. Note that it’s the same gift to both General Manager & Analyst to represent shared responsibility and working together.

Now, this isn’t perfect but you can see that it doesn’t just take time to find the right gifts, but also tell a story that connects the individuals together instead of making them feel separate with separate gifts.

III. The Luxury Corporate Gifting Problem

If you know anything about the luxury business, you know that it’s mouthwateringly aspirational, but incredibly difficult to maintain quality at scale. Those Chanel counters at major department stores don’t brand themselves.

In addition, your customer base isn’t easily accessed. Most truly wealthy people prefer privacy to social media megaphones. And so, they might get the Neiman Marcus annual holiday gift magazine with the Rose Gold plated helicopter and other insane experiential gifts, but it’s not really positioned for the corporation.

When you think of corporate gifts, what you mostly think of are cheap keychains, cheesy mugs, and plastic pens all brandished with a company’s logo. Even startups fall into this trap. Enjoy your elegant new MacBook and a gaudy t-shirt we hope you’ll wear everywhere showing how sexy our brand is (???). Sorry, that just doesn’t work.

Here’s the best thought experiment I can think of. Go into the fall Vogue magazine. You know, that monstrously large one that could break your foot if it falls upon it. Now flip through all the ads. Notice any Fortune 500 ads or tech startups in the pages that Anna Wintour painstakingly editing together?

Notice anything that represents good gifts for your corporate partners within those pages? Likely not. Maybe some for your spouse, but not for a semi-stranger professional relationship.

Chanel doesn’t have a gift section of their website. Neither does Tom Ford.

Website home pages for CHANEL and TOM FORD

Luckily some places like Tiffany & Co and Neiman Marcus do have gift sections, but they’re hard to navigate and aren’t always set up by price or vendor.

Gift sections of Tiffany & Co and Neiman Marcus websites.

No matter what, you’re going to spend a lot of time, that you already don’t have around the holidays, or other times of years when gifts aren’t as prevalent, trying to find the perfect object. The one thing that captures the full story of the relationship between individuals and organizations.

What a curious thing, how a simple object can hold a lifetime of moments. When does an inanimate object transform into a meaningful gift? When it is given not as a matter of gain, but rather that of mutual respect and consideration.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a product built specifically for corporate gifting? Something a law firm could send all their partners and associates to for any gift they wanted to buy, search quickly, be taken to the normal brand’s store to checkout and have it shipped quickly and easily, without worry about the trust of delivery?

IV. Introducing EVERAE: Luxury Corporate Gifts

Well there is, and we built a concept to prove out the point. You might be surprised to learn we built it over the holiday of 2015, a full year ago, then did nothing with it.

We haven’t changed any of the code or links on the site, to prove a few points.

  1. Great ideas don’t get stolen, they get built.
  2. Even if you build it, they won’t just come.

Maria Woike and I called it EVERAE for a variety of secret reasons, spent time developing the custom brand, unique mark, story, and of course, the animated content tiles that fly around the screen when you select different price points.

Courtesy of EVERAE

Aside from the unique animations, the other aspect we were uniquely proud of was the way we merchandised the content. Many UX designers today are putting products or faces in circles because there have been far too many square and rectangular boxes on eCommerce sites.

Diamonds are forever, after all.

Email me if you like what we’ve built, want to expand on it, or use the product for your own organization. Here’s a screen shot from the About page on the site. And of course it’s responsive.

Give it a look. The prices might just surprise you. It’s all part of the curation experience.

V. Innovating for the Future

Speaking with executives in the retail industry, they have an Americas strategy and a Rest-of-World strategy. In the Americas, you just put everything on Amazon and that’s your eCommerce strategy. But overseas, Amazon isn’t quite as evasive, especially in emerging markets, so you need another solution.

But creating a multi-language, multi-cultural, and multi-supply chain product and infrastructure is a nightmare. The only solution is to maybe start with Shopify, write some custom CSS, and then try to integrate with your own back-office system. Then, we’re talking about rolling your own strategy. Alibaba and Amazon, plus the Samwer Brothers just doesn’t cut it.

So we need some new innovative way to reach this coming tsunami that is millennial eCommerce shopping. One such idea can be found with a company that many retailers know of, Zolando. They are the only other competitor to Amazon aside from Alibaba, but unlikely you’ve heard of them.

What they’re trying to do is merge the online with the offline shopping experience. It’s far, far easier said than done. But they are having a bit of success using mobile events with popup shops through Snapchat.

And of course Snapchat is playing in the game, testing the vending machine waters with Spectacles. But we’ve covered that deep dive in the future of millennial video article previously.

You could argue that Groupon led the way with their 100 million user email list and daily deals, but we all know how that turned out, even if they didn’t quite like what we had to say at the height of their media fame.

So what does the future hold? Speed, Apple Pay thumbprint integration, and not having to enter shipping addresses. Of course, because we care more about experiences than things in the 2020s (sorry Barbara Walters), the retailer who leads with the branded festival event first, and brings their product for sale on location second, will be the winner.

Experience first, product second.

Attract them with the honey of “fun with friends”, then keep them engaged with your physical product they buy as a way to “store” their memories.


Read More

Coach As A Resurgent Luxury Giant

The Future of Luxury Retail was originally published in Humanizing Tech on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

from Stories by Sean Everett on Medium http://ift.tt/2il1kfL