Friday, February 3, 2012
Nicholas Center Blog
On Friday, February 3rd, the Nicholas Center for Corporate Finance and Investment Banking was fortunate to have Board Member Jeff Yurcisin, general manager/president of Shopbop.com lead a discussion on “How Finance Impacts an Entire Organization.”
Shopbop.com is an online, USA-based retailer specializing in contemporary and luxury women’s clothing and accessories. Launched in 2000 with a focus on hard-to-find designer denim lines, the store carries labels including Marc by Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Current/Elliott, J Brand, Calvin Klein Collection, Hervé Léger, Giuseppe Zanotti, Elizabeth and James, and Rag & Bone.
Jeff shared with us some of the decisions that went into his career path. Jeff realized early on in his career that he loves to work with the public and decided to work in an industry that supported that ideology. Jeff also has a passion for sports and the industries within it that drive retail sales, so Jeff helped create Amazon’s sports business platform. I found it fascinating that Jeff just took the things that inspired him and made a successful career out of them.
We also talked about technology as a “game changer.” As we have witnessed the increase in the percentage of clothing sold online, Jeff believes that we should continue to expect a huge market for online sales for years to come. With the growth of e-commerce on a global scale and given large population and strong purchasing power in China, Shopbop.com is pursuing opportunities to develop in the Chinese markets. Since most brands are not known to the Chinese customers, marketing investment is becoming critical to enhance brand awareness. At this point, finance acts an important role to evaluate different marketing strategies based on company long term strategy and their financial consequences.
More younger Chinese women are choosing online shopping over brick-and-mortar operations. These women are keeping their eyes close on global fashion trends and shopping accordingly. There will always be a market for luxury goods. All these purchasing behaviors match Shopbop.com current business model. And, while it appears everything seems positive, there are still some obstacles that ShopBop.com must consider, such as government regulation, cultural differences, and additional duty and shipping costs that could make Shopbop.com products less competitive. This is a decision that involves maintenance of global standards and the consideration of localization. Finance plays a huge role in this decision.
My major take away from this discussion was that finance is not an“isolated part” in the company; instead finance plays an important role in the assessment of the marketing and business strategies of the company’s mission. I was very impressed with Shopbop.com website design, which was fun and easy to use. Its services, language conversion, and logistics model (i.e., overnight shipping and free domestic returns) were highly attractive features to me. Once I finish my MBA at the Wisconsin School of Business and land my first job, I want to become a loyal customer of Shopbop.com!