Cult fashion retailer Incu is known for bringing some of the freshest local and global brands to Australian customers, from Rag & Bone to Gentle Monster and Maison Kitsuné. CEO Doug Low chats with us about the lessons he learnt from 2020 and who he’d invite to his dream Zoom chat. Inside Retail: How are you feeling about 2021? Doug Low: I’m pretty optimistic about the opportunities it will bring. Obviously, if you could get through it all and come out the other side as a business, there
there were some real positives. For us, there were some great things we took out of it. We’re 18 years old and we didn’t have a mission statement before, but it was really great to go through that process, which forced us to think about what we want the brand to stand for in the next 18 years and beyond. We landed on “creating community, curating experience”. Now we can always go back to [that statement] as we approach brands, work with suppliers and staff and all those wonderful things. It grounds the business. Recently, we’ve hired a lot of new talent that we brought into the business. We’ve also seen some great development among our staff. We’re so lucky to have them all, and everyone dug their heels in deep for us during Covid. It makes you excited to make them part of the business. When we can give them the tools they need, the possibilities are endless. Seeing the best come out of everyone has been excellent. IR: What are some of your favourite retailers around the world and why? DL: Aesop. They’re so scientific in their approach to retail and so consistent in their experience. It’s so tactile and well thought out, it’s amazing. Everything is done at such a high level. It’s probably the only luxury Australian retailer that’s really out there. Mecca. Even just speaking to people about the brand, they get so excited. The way they train staff and run the business seems to be done in a really great way. They do physical retail really well, but they’ve also bridged that gap to digital as well. I wish we could do things like them. Bunnings. When I was growing up, whenever we needed something done, we’d call in a handyman; we never had a drill at home. But I can go into a Bunnings store, where they have diverse staff, who can break down really complex things for me in a simple way and show you how to use things or fix things. They give you very honest service and don’t try to oversell you. It’s very Australian. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female or from whatever demographic, everyone goes to Bunnings. I’d love us to attain that same level of service and experience for fashion: where we educate people on brands, where the service is approachable and we have diverse staff who are so helpful. IR: If you could invite anyone, dead or alive, to a Zoom group chat, who would you choose? DL: Tony Tsieh, who used to be at Zappos. His dedication to delivering happiness in a way that he approached service is completely different to the way that I think any other business would do it. How I Built This podcast host Guy Raz. I think he can ask great questions and he’s so intuitive. Tyler Haney, the founder of activewear brand Outdoor Voices. Her ability to create a community and approach to activewear was quite different. It’s not about being the fastest athlete or the best at something, it was about just getting out there. She was able to shake up an industry that had an existing model but she approached it from a different angle. Bruce Lee. I’d invite him just for his philosophy and dedication to being a better martial artist. IR: What are some of the retail trends you’ve got your eye on? DL: Definitely omnichannel. Everyone’s going to be gearing up for that, but where it will get interesting is how it relates to the specific business. We have WeChat and we’ve input a service called Hero in our online store, so when someone clicks on the button, you can speak to someone via phone, text or WhatsApp. Click-and-collect. I think about getting our products to people in the fastest way possible, but we want people to come in to pick up items, but be prepared to match them with other items they’ve already put aside. Maybe have a champagne service or a special offering; it’s almost like how when you book a restaurant through a concierge, they ask what you might like. We want to tailor our service to someone in a natural way and make them feel special. The more information you can get to know about someone, the more you can tailor it to them, but it has to be genuine and offer something to them.