MR PORTER: The game-changing online destination that has revolutionized retail.
Managing director of MR PORTER, Ian Tansley has established the online retail destination as an award-winning global phenomenon. We caught up to talk Sunday evenings, social media and shoes.
To what do you attribute Mr Porter’s success?
We’re focused on the best service. We’re shipping to 170 countries around the world; we’re doing same-day delivery in New York. In the summer we’re doing same-day delivery to the Hamptons. Having that level of service is critical. In terms of people, our customer care agents are experts. They can tell you anything about any of the products we sell: how to wear them, what to wear them with, how the sizes work. Our service is key. Then we’ve got the content: for Natalie [Massenet, founder of Net-a-Porter Group], from the beginning, it has always been about both content and e-commerce. We’ve invested a lot to bring in some really good people. We had Jeremy Langmead before and now we have our new U.S. editor-in-chief John Brodie. We continue to push the content forward, and we have the best selection of brands and products, from a $25 T-shirt to an $11,000 Brioni tuxedo. It’s all carefully chosen for style and for quality; we’re making it easy for men to find the best.
Tell us more about the content.
We have a weekly online magazine called The Journal and our bi-monthly Mr Porter Post which we send out to 130,000 people around the world. We’re going to continue to push both of those things forward. We’re about to launch our redesign of The Journal content area of the website to push the boundaries in terms of making it better, but also making it accessible. As any e-commerce person will tell you, everything is moving towards mobile; more and more customers live on their phones. About 30 percent (and increasing) of our visitors on the website are on an iPhone or an iPad, and on Sunday evenings the percentage is more like 60. Everybody’s sitting there in the evening, on the sofa, probably with the TV on, browsing websites. That’s where we want to be. We want to make sure that the Mr Porter experience on an iPhone or iPad is the best.
Where is menswear headed?
The thing about Mr Porter is that the customer doesn’t have to know or even care which way fashion is heading. What we do is provide that carefully chosen selection of high-quality products. We’re striving to provide something for everybody.
Which categories are hot right now?
Shoes are growing massively. E-commerce works well for footwear; fit is fairly straightforward and we can make the product look beautiful. We now have 35 different brands. We’re seeing huge growth in everyone from Converse to Lanvin and McQueen. We’re selling a huge quantity of dress shoes and we’ve got some beautiful new brands coming in: John Lobb, George Cleverley, Church’s and Edward Green for fall.
Any other hot categories?
One that we’ve just launched is wearable technology, like the Jawbone Up wristband. We’ve just announced that we’re going to be the first exclusive retailer outside of Google for Google Glass. The other thing we’re getting into quite significantly is sports and performance wear.
By virtue of the fact that you are an online retailer, is your consumer younger?
Our average customer is 39, which doesn’t actually tell us much because we’ve got 20 year olds on the site and we’ve got 70 and 80 year olds buying things. What we’re trying to do is have things that appeal to the classic guy and more contemporary stuff (Acne, Neighborhood, APC, Undercover) for the younger more trendy guy.
What about social media?
Social media is huge for us. We’ve got 1.3 million followers on Google Plus. We’ve got three or four hundred thousand followers on Facebook. YouTube is an enormous platform for us: our videos have had about two million views. We know our customers are using social media to find information so we want to produce brilliant content and we want to push it out there. We’re lucky because we can actually produce the content and effectively give it away for free. We hope that supports the brand and supports the up-and-coming younger customer. It’s hard to know for sure, because when you look at the direct tracking, is social media directly driving a huge number of sales? It isn’t. It’s not insignificant, but it’s not a huge chunk. We know that the customer is there and we know that we have to engage the conversation because that’s where our next customers will be. We care very much about starting a dialogue that will build in the future.
Mr Porter in a Nutshell
Established: 2011, part of the Net-A-Porter Group, launched in 2000 by Natalie Massenet
Headquarters: New York, London, Hong Kong
Visitors: 2 million monthly unique visitors, 22 million monthly page views
Delivery: Worldwide express to over 170 countries, with same day for London and New York
Top vendors: Brioni, Givenchy, Gucci, Lanvin, Acne, Burberry Prorsum, Paul Smith, Slowear, Saint Laurent
Ownership: In 2010 Richemont bought a primary stake
Ian Tansley: Getting Personal
Hero: Our founder Natalie Massenet. She is the most passionate individual. She just has this absolute belief that if we’re the best at what we do we will be successful and that is instilled in everybody who works here.
Hobbies: I’ve got three kids and a wife so it’s mainly spending time with them. I do a little bit of snowboarding, a little bit of mountain biking and swimming in the summer. I try and keep myself a little bit fit.
Personal Style: Since we’ve started selling menswear, I have definitely started looking better, and Natalie jokes about it all the time. During the week I tend to wear a suit. As a guy, I think it’s easy and in terms of my position, I think it’s right.
Office Attire: I just bought a Kilgour suit that we’ve got on the site, but on Fridays, I wear jeans, a shirt and a softcoat.
Weekend Wear: Chinos from Incotex and a casual shirt or polo shirt. I’ve got quite a few pairs of Converse.
Denim: J. Crew jeans are actually quite nice and at a good price point.
Book: The Wealth and Poverty of Nations
Movie: Die Hard
TV Show: The Wire
Album: Songs for the Tempted by The 4 of Us
Restaurant: The Ledbury