by Stephen Garner
J. Skyler Fernandes, Miriam Gassel, Philip Krim, and Andrea Wasserman
(Left to Right ) J. Skyler Fernandes, Miriam Gassel, Philip Krim, and Andrea Wasserman / Courtesy of UJA-Federation of New York

Miriam Gassel, vice president of merchandising at BaubleBar, Inc., Philip Krim, founder and CEO of Casper, and Andrea Wasserman, SVP of direct-to-consumer at Nine West Group, explored the changing face of the retail industry with moderator J. Skyler Fernandes, managing director of Simon Venture Group, at UJA-Federation of New York’s Tech Talk panel discussion on October 28, 2015. Panelists discussed how their companies are utilizing vertical integration, direct-to-consumer, and on-demand manufacturing business models, as well as trends in merchandising, consumer experiences, and new technologies to power their business.

For companies operating at an earlier stage with smaller budgets that are using the direct-to-consumer business model, Gassel advises them to get their product to the right people. “Our team connected with key influencers in the space and was quick to develop strategic relationships with the blogger community,” said Gassel. “We were able to provide a lot of our early products as gifts to key influencers. We really got our product worn by the right people. As a result, our products were photographed everywhere and we were tagged every time. This was a critical piece to our success.”

On merchandising, Wasserman said, “Whether you have a million SKUs as a newer company or you have fewer SKUs as an older company, that balance is constantly changing as consumer sentiment changes and the trends shift. I think that a lot of it is about the balance between art and science and having a really strong assortment planning function that is partnered well with the buying organization.”

On a prediction for the biggest change in retail in 2016, Wasserman says it will be “a deeper and steeper shift to mobile.”