Guido Campello, CEO of lingerie retailer Journelle and lingerie brand Cosabella, has seen the wholesale business totally transform in the last year. Two years ago, direct sales were just under 30% of Cosabella’s total sales, but they now make up more than half of all sales. He said wholesale’s role in the overall business is changing, though it’s not going away.
Campello joined Glossy editor-in-chief Jill Manoff on Tuesday for a discussion on wholesale versus direct-to-consumer sales, the way brands can differentiate when selling on multiple platforms, and the roles that small boutiques and giant marketplaces play in the retail market.
Selling on multiple platforms
“You should be everywhere and on every platform,” Campello said.
In the modern retail market, there’s no reason not to sell on as many platforms as possible, particularly with new trends like drop-shipping making it easier for brands to take a chance on new platforms. The problem that creates, however, is that brands need to find a way to differentiate how they’re sold on a giant platform like Amazon versus a smaller boutique or specialty retailer.
“Differentiation is key,” Campello said. “If you’re avoiding a platform, you’re being a little elitist toward people who might otherwise love your brand. Brands should be everywhere, but their assortment should be different. The Nordstrom customer is not the same as the Free People customer, for example.”
Cosabella has sold on Amazon for years, and Journelle just joined in the last two weeks. But both brands sell a unique assortment of products on Amazon, with a focus on basics and value packs of underwear. Comparatively, the brands sell more upscale products directly and more collaborations through other retailers.
The Etsy of intimates
Speaking of new platforms, one of the most interesting new developments in retail, per Campello, is the idea that brands can partner with small boutiques and independent designers to create small-batch product on an individual or one-of-a-kind basis.
“One reason I like to collaborate is because we can do things that we normally don’t,” Campello said. “There are so many great DTC brands and little indie designers who are great to work with. We want [Journelle] to be like the Etsy of intimates and give all these designers the opportunity to make homemade, one-off products, and have the option to sell them through us.”
Campello said that eBay, which both his cmpanies have started selling on in the last year, has proven to be a great way for Journelle to test out independent brands and designers before investing more into larger productions.
Campello said the change in the relationship between brands and retailers, due to new options like drop-shipping, has changed how both players think about inventory.
He said that, in 2020, Journelle’s inventory decreased by 40% year-over-year, while sales were up 30%.
“The turnaround on product is much quicker,” Campello said. “We’re actually under-inventoried at the moment and need to build that back up. But the overall lowering of inventory across the industry means retailers can be a bit more experimental and take a chance on smaller brands and new categories, which is good for us. We can do lingerie, without having to buy heavily into the product.”