Emirates Woman sits down with Isabel May, Managing Director & Chief Customer Experience Officer at Mytheresa to talk about a curated business approach, revealing the importance of a customer-first mentality in providing a seamless online shopping experience.

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?

I’m an early bird and have a cup of tea as soon as I wake up. That’s for me, my me time. I get the energy right for the day and start in a good spirit. Then I check my emails as early as I can to get ready for the day ahead. I’m at the office by 7:30am for an early start.

How has Mytheresa evolved since it launched in 2006 and what has been the biggest change?

Originally, it’s from a store in 1987 and from there it’s quite a long story. The family who owned it basically founded Mytheresa. What evolved within the last years is that we became a lot more international, delivering to over 130 markets. We do ship globally, but we’re doing a lot of localised approaches in terms of languages and payment methods, and really catering to the customer in our markets to make the experience as smooth, hassle-free, and as emotional as possible. The biggest change since it launched could be the website, however I think it’s really the market. Globalization has played a huge part. Also, we are becoming really an amazing partner to the brands and to us, becoming a fashion authority in the sense that we are the platform to curate products for our clients – we are very customer-centric. So I think this is a huge development. We are always thinking about the customer feedback and this is something that drove us to the biggest change in the last two years. We do find ourselves always as the finest edit in luxury. It’s not just fashion anymore but it is also life.

What is the VIP experience like at Mytheresa and how do you personalise this?

Customers are super important to our business and we are concentrating a lot on our VIP customers. I think it depends on the customer, but if you want to get the ultimate individual experience, you will and can have a dedicated personal shopper. This personal shopper does everything for you – shop and also take care of delivery and more. You can call them day and night, WhatsApp them – and they can give you style advice or reserve items for you before they even go on the website. So there is a vast of individualised services available for the top clients. There is also a huge part which we call the “money can’t buy” where we invite our top clients to experience something extraordinary – it could be something that they’re curious to attend like Paris Fashion Week or attend events with Pucci in Capri, things like that, where they really have a look at behind the scenes of this industry. Because our customers are very busy, it is really important to surprise and delight them with something that they wouldn’t expect and they still love to experience and also tell their friends.

Do you see buying trends or habits on a global scale with clients and how is this similar or different with Middle Eastern clients?

I mean, it is surprising sometimes to us how similar the top-performing brands are globally. But of course, when you go into the details they are different. The Middle East, it’s a very occasion-driven market with a lot of events going on where new dresses are needed. Customers here buy a lot of colourful pieces from luxury brands like Valentino.

You launched an Arabic website a few years ago. Aside from localisation, what are your other competitive advantages?

I mean, I think what we try is, first of all, a very curated offer – this is something that is really important for us. So when you are looking for something to wear to an occasion or the perfect dress, you will find it in 20 variations, not in 1000 variations, and that saves time. We are curating for the customers that we know, even down to the selections on the homepage… that’s one of the advantages. The second advantage, of course, is a hassle-free customer experience. From browsing the website to check out to delivery, which is very fast, we offer a seamless experience. The third thing is, if you’re one of our top customers, we engage very personally and emotionally with you.

Mytheresa fashion

What is your approach to leadership and how do you ensure these values filter down through the different departments that you oversee?

I’m quite approachable for my team. I know that without my team, I couldn’t do it. It’s not about me, it’s about us. Always. That is very important for me, I’m here to support the team. So they know they can always come with anything – with ideas or things that bother them – that’s a very big part of it.

How do you ensure each touchpoint including content is focused on client engagement and retention?

We are quite obsessed with our customers and measure their happiness based on Net Promoter Scores. We also read every comment and are looking for things that we can permanently improve. It is not just a promise that we do, we really look into it so that we are continuously developing ourselves. We get great ideas from customers and we continually remind our teams to always put themselves in the shoes of the customer. Think about what’s best for the customer. Because I’m a strong believer, that we actually see development when you put customer first and it brings the business success.

How do you continue to innovate in the tech and buying space and what part does social media play in communication?

Social media is a big part in terms of inspiration and the upper funnel. You can create brand awareness – that is the big role of social media for us, especially in the region. We also interact through a different channel in this region that we don’t do in others – for example, Snapchat is important to us here. How we continue to innovate will always come from the customer – we won’t do something for the sake of tech but we would always want to improve customer experience, and how we can use tech to actually do these improvements.

What have been the biggest hurdles and achievements to date?

We developed quite heavily since I joined this company. But of course, it’s a challenge to scale a business to where we are today, take the teams on board and keep the quality. The third thing is we want to keep the entrepreneurial spirit, and the startup mentality and not become a huge conglomerate – and that is challenging sometimes. Because you need clear processes, which we have, but then you also need to jump in and review the structures to innovate. So this is, I think something that when you are growing so much you will struggle with because it’s part of the game.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I think it is to know who you are, know who you want to be, and know what you want to become or what you want to do. It sounds very easy, but it’s actually quite challenging. Have a clear idea and plan on how you will make that dream come true. I advise a lot of the young people working for us to have an idea of themselves.

This is The Elevate Issue – how do you aim to consciously elevate both personally and as a business?

We do find ourselves always as the finest edit in luxury. It’s not just fashion anymore but it is also life. Our customers are passionate about fashion and interested in everything that is beautiful. So I think we’re elevating in that sense and that’s our daily task to think about what’s next for the customer.

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