Kim Zorn: Princess Polly’s story started around 2010 from a beachside apartment on Australia’s Gold Coast. That’s when we really burst onto the retail scene. Our CEO recently shared some pictures of how they started the business and it’s just so impressive to see how far it’s come. We’ve made some pretty big waves in Australia and the online fashion space. I think we’ve really differentiated ourselves by being customer-obsessed, social media-driven and, what we call ourselves, a content powerhouse.
We now have headquarters in West Hollywood in California, and also we have warehouses in the US and in Burleigh Heads in Queensland. We have exclusive fashion inspired by the most up-to-date trends and we have an army of influencer advocates.
Customers really love our fast shipping and customer service, where we get a lot of positive feedback. Our mission statement is that we want to be the world’s most innovative customer-focused online retailer and we want to provide quality trend-driven fashion to Gen Z globally. Championing diversity and inclusion across the fashion industry is also a big thing for us. We want to build a really authentic community, where everyone is invited, our customers feel like they belong, and they’re part of the brand.
IR: Can you tell me a little bit about your international expansion plans in terms of the US and beyond?
KZ: In Australia, we already have a [large] share of the retail market, but the US is a huge market and opportunity for us. We have a PR team over in the US and we have a customer service team over there to really make sure our customers are getting 24/7 service. There’s actually a study that came out that listed us with really big names as one of the favourite brands among Gen Z. Canada is a focus for us as well. We just launched our UK page, so we’re tackling the European market, too.
IR: The womenswear market is flooded with so many different brands now, especially on social media. What do you think makes Princess Polly stand out?
KZ: Our customers are looking for a personal and emotional connection to brands now more than ever. And in the last two years, we’ve constantly evolved our marketing strategy and kept focusing on our customers’ needs. One really cool initiative that we did during lockdown was launching Princess Polly TV, which we hosted on Instagram. It wasn’t about our products, it was really for us to bond with our customers on a new level. We hosted DIY workshops, yoga sessions, meditation, cooking classes, health workshops, styling sessions. We even had a band playing on IGTV, where people could tune in and just listen to some fun music. We want to be a brand that connects with our customers.
Customers are also looking for a direct relationship with brands, so in 2020, we on-boarded SMS marketing, through Yotpo. SMS not only keeps customers up to date with our latest promos, offers and collection drops, it’s also a way for customers to message our customer service team directly. They can contact us via text message instead of email. We have great engagement on the [SMS] channel.
I’ve read so many articles that say it’s really hard to keep customers loyal and get that repeat purchase, so we implemented a loyalty program, which is really fun and festival-themed. We really wanted to create a captivating experience. We have so many different perqs and we’re working on some really personalised initiatives for our VIP backstage members – that’s what we call them. We launched our loyalty program with Yotpo in October 2020 and we have received amazing feedback. Among our loyalty customers, 66 per cent make repeat purchases, which is really, really high.
The most important part [of retail] is to understand your brand’s strengths and weaknesses, and your customers’ needs. I often find that brands always assume what their customers like and dislike and what they expect from a brand, and they don’t support it with data. That’s difficult. Our target audience is Gen Z, but I’m not. We run customer surveys and ask them what they care about and what they want to see more. And then a majority of our strategy is based on our customer surveys.
IR: Can you tell me about some of the interesting insights that come out of those surveys?
KZ: Yeah, one big thing that Gen Z cares about is sustainability, which is a big, big thing for us as well and we have some great initiatives around that. They say Gen Z is the most diverse and most educated generation that we have, so we really focus on their needs and align our brand values with their values as well. We’ve launched our sustainability department, which focuses on key impact areas like ethical sourcing, sustainable products, protecting the planet, and equality. We also expanded our sustainable product range, which now has a lower impact on our planet, and we made the switch from compostable to completely recyclable packaging, based on our customer feedback. And we audited 100 per cent of our tier-one factories to ensure worker safety. We also donated $US550,000 in 2021, to various global charities that many of our customers care about.
And we launched our Fit Finder feature, which generates more accurate sizing to help reduce unnecessary packaging [and returns].
It was really clear from that survey that Gen Z wants to see change, which we as a brand completely support.
IR: I’m very interested to hear about your Fit Finder tool. What does that involve?
KZ: You click on a product and then you type in your height and your weight. Then we ask if you like a tight, loose, or normal fit. Our Fit Finder stores a lot of information about other brands’ sizing, so if you shop from another store, you can put in your usual size from that brand. Then it says if you have, say, 80 per cent chance of needing a size six, or if you need a size eight or 12.
[In our product reviews], some of our customers share their height and weight with us and then customers can see if someone has the same body shape as them. Every product has reviews and ratings from customers that tell you about the fit and give you additional information and insight.
IR: What I like about the Princess Polly site is that it clearly uses models of different sizes in its marketing campaigns. Can you tell me about the role that body positivity and diversity play in the brand?
KZ: We want to create a brand that everyone can identify with. We launched our curve drop last year and we are constantly dropping styles in our curve range. We have received such positive feedback. Customers send us messages saying, “Thank you so much for being such an inclusive brand. I look at your website and I can identify with the model.” At Princess Polly, we celebrate every body size, shape, or form. If we have one style, everyone should wear it and we have it in all different sizes. We don’t have a different curve range. The curve range is made up of our existing products. Our goal is to eventually have all products available in curve sizing.
IR: I heard that Princess Polly has recently launched a diversity and inclusion strategy. Can you tell me about what that looks like?
KZ: We’ve always understood the importance of using our platform to empower our audience and we’ve definitely grown to be extra transparent with it recently. We’re committed to ensuring that the Princess Polly customer can see themselves represented in our marketing and find the right product. We launched the curve collection [as part of the strategy], which extends to size 20 in the US and 24 in Australia. We are also engaging with more partners – from our models to ambassadors to charity partners – that reflect the diversity in our audience. We also have a really strict policy against [Photoshopping] all our images. We show things how they are.
We’re also working on improving the accessibility of our website, taking into consideration those with different abilities. We’re launching an internal diversity, inclusion, and belonging council to ensure that we’re really executing these initiatives, programs and strategies to create an inclusive space for customers and team members.