What brand designers and manufacturers need from a CIO

Lisa Gavales, a veteran of managing brands online for companies including apparel designers and retailers The Talbots Inc. and Express Inc., says it’s crucial for brands to let their end customers know what products are available across multiple selling channels.

Paul Demery

Consumer brand managers should become best friends with chief information officers, veteran brand manager Lisa Gavales says.

To be successful selling consumer brands through retail stores as well as through their own e-commerce sites, their first order of business should be to develop a single view of available inventory, Gavales said at last week’s IRCE Focus: Brands and B2B conference in New York.

Lisa Gavales
Former President of Direct &CMO at Talbots, and EVP & CMO EXPRESS

Gavales should know. She’s a former president of the direct division and chief marketing officer at The Talbots Inc., a company that designs and sells its own women’s apparel and accessories, and she’s a former executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Express Inc., which specializes in selling its own fashion apparel brands for young adults.

At the Brands & B2B conference, Gavales added to a litany of advice for how consumer brand designers and manufacturers as well as retailers can best make their merchandise brands stand out.

With consumers learning to expect to buy their favorite brands in any online or offline selling channel, it’s crucial for brand managers to be able answer when a customer asks, “Can I get it in green in medium at the store down the street?” Gavales said. “You have to know where your inventory is,” she said. “You have to trust your inventory records, and let customers know about it.”

That capability, she added, is the “No. 1 thing” brand managers should request from their chief information officers.

Taking it another step, she added, brand managers must also have a single, constantly updated view of customer shopping activity across online and offline channels to run effective marketing campaigns based on customers’ interests.  “Marketing needs to know all,” she said. “This is where your CIO becomes your best friend.”

Gavales added that social media is emerging as a crucial medium for brands to engage customers. “Customers who follow you on social media are even more loyal,” she said. “Suddenly I get to talk with you every day. What other medium do I talk to you every day? E-mail is a few times a week, a catalog a few times a year.”

Express is No. 96 and Talbots is No. 170 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, which ranks companies on the annual web sales.

For a free subscription to B2Bec News, click here.


Express, IRCE Focus: Brands & B2B, Lisa Gavales, MLMayB2B300, MLMayB2B728, Talbots