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11/17/2021

Exclusive Q&A: Express turns shoppers into influencers

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture
Brian Seewald, senior VP e-commerce, Express Inc.

Express Inc. is expanding its well-established celebrity influencer program to include fashion-savvy customers.

Brian Seewald, senior VP of e-commerce at Express Inc., recently spoke with Chain Store Age about the fashion apparel retailer’s nationwide rollout of a new program called Community Commerce. Initially launched as a pilot in July 2021, the program brings together a group of style experts called Express Style Editors, who receive product information and education, personal coaching, and ongoing mentorship.

What made Express decide to create the Community Commerce program?
We had already established a compelling, industry-recognized influencer marketing program, and as we looked to find new, innovative ways to engage customers and fulfill our brand purpose to create confidence and inspire self-expression, we reimagined the role community could play in our business.

Express Community Commerce is the perfect intersection of fulfilling that brand purpose and leaning into where the industry is going organically. Our new program connects people through a shared love of fashion and takes influencer marketing to the next level.

What advantages do retailers obtain from celebrity social influencers?
When the connection is authentic, influencers can very effectively engage new audiences, encourage them to become a part of a community, and drive traffic and sales. We chose to partner with global fashion influencer Rachel Zoe as lead style editor of Express Community Commerce not only because she is one of the most recognizable and respected fashion experts, but also because her values align with our own.

Her personal story has inspired fashion enthusiasts and we believe it will inspire many of our Style Editors. As lead style editor, Rachel will help us recruit, guide and mentor our Style Editors.

What specific benefits do retailers and their customers receive from shopper influencer programs?
The national rollout of our Community Commerce program is the next step in building a strong, engaged and loyal community. By forming stronger connections with our customers, we aim to drive increased digital revenue and bring the Express brand purpose to life in a powerful way.
By giving our customers the opportunity to share their style with their own communities, we help them turn a passion into a fun side hustle. By becoming an Express Style Editor, influencers and customers who love fashion and have an entrepreneurial spirit can set up a digital Express storefront, style our product and earn commission. These Style Editors will have access to exclusive products and events to deepen their knowledge and connection to Express.
With Rachel Zoe as the program’s Lead Style Editor, this next generation of stylists will learn tips and tricks of the trade from a true expert, and our top-selling Style Editors may also have the opportunity to attend an Express photoshoot and meet Rachel Zoe.
Can you mention any future plans for the Community Commerce program?
In December, we plan to debut an exclusive ‘Rachel Zoe’s Picks’ curation, to be followed by co-designed collections next spring, that will all be available through our Community Commerce program app. We believe that our Community Commerce Program can truly bring ‘experiential retail’ to life in our brick & mortar environment.

Beginning in 2022, we plan to offer Style Editors the ability to host their own in-store events – working in partnership with our Express store teams. Our style editors will have the opportunity to build amazing relationships with their followings both digitally and in our store environment. We believe that this brings an element to our Community Commerce program that is truly differentiated. It truly speaks to our brand purpose and the fact that we think clothes can serve a higher purpose.