My-wardrobe.com's Rob Moss on keeping it personal while expanding globally

Rob Moss, global marketing director, My-wardrobe.com, is using new technology to sustain prolific growth. Interview by Nicola Clark.

Rob Moss, global marketing director, My-wardrobe.com
Rob Moss, global marketing director, My-wardrobe.com

Rob Moss is wearing a crisp white Dolce & Gabbana shirt and Hudson shoes - both, of course, purchased from My-wardrobe.com. Since he joined the online designer fashion retailer in April, his choice of outfits has undergone something of a renaissance. 'Lauren is helping me become more brand-aware,' he jokes, referring to My-wardrobe's PR director, Lauren Stevenson.

Moss' new role requires more than just a step change in clothing, however. He has joined at a pivotal time for the five-year-old, privately owned company. It might be easy to presume that a luxury retailer like My-wardrobe, which focuses on designers from the UK and Europe, as well as key US and Australian names, would be under pressure.

However, the numbers show that it is successfully defying the prevailing mood of austerity in Britain. In May, My-wardrobe reported like-for-like annual international sales growth of 96%, following the overhaul and relaunch of the site. This followed an 83% growth in international sales for 2009-10, plus a $9m injection of funding from Balderton Capital, one of Europe's biggest venture-capital firms.

So is Moss daunted by the prospect of maintaining this phenomenal growth trajectory? 'We are in a very fortuitous position - the market is growing and our focus is on maturing and continuing to listen to what people want,' he says.

At the heart of this drive is a focus on new platforms; according to Moss, 5%-10% of sales already come via mobile devices and iPads. In line with this, he is working on a plethora of mobile initiatives, including the launch of a mobile-optimised website. 'There is no doubt that the app economy is in rapid growth, but many of our customers still want that "virtual fag-break" in the office, so browsing on desktop computers will remain key,' he adds.

Moss joined My-wardrobe at a crossroads in its development. It is attempting to achieve greater scale, without losing its small-business mentality - personalisation and service are what has made it such a hit. He believes that technology and innovation will be key to this growth. 'Our core customers shop in the "seam" of their lives,' he explains. 'On their iPads, at work, on their mobiles, or flicking through the traditional print version of our style guide.'

As a former car marketer and tech-addict, Moss is not in the traditional fashionista mould. 'I'm a bit of a geek, I'm really into tech,' he confesses, holding up his iPhone - a device he was presumably denied during his stint at Nokia.

'I fell in love with new media working in computer games and spent six years agency-side. There you are focused on execution; client-side, you need to execute and make the decision,' he says.

Once Moss made the move client-side, however, there was no turning back. 'When you work for a single business you can really allow yourself to become immersed, but I am always passionate about working with agencies as partners,' he says.

Moss is also getting to grips with My-wardrobe's customer base. The site's highest-spending customers are to be found in Saudi Arabia and Knightsbridge, a world away from the clientele of his last employer, Lastminute.com.

'It's a totally different market; the travel sector is hugely competitive and the profile of our customer was people without children in their 20s and early 30s. Our customer here is a very busy woman with a very active social life. This means a huge focus on planning and high service,' he adds.

This approach is in line with the brand's intense focus on service, where the call-handlers often know customers by name. This is a top-down business style fostered by its founder and chief executive, Sarah Curran, a former Times journalist and creator of London fashion boutique Powder. 'When it snowed (earlier in the year) and we couldn't get deliveries through, our team, including Sarah, was in touch with customers,' notes Moss.

While My-wardrobe is expanding its global footprint, Moss is at pains to maintain this attention to detail.

'We have a unique position and there are some very big players operating in this market, but we don't want to get sidetracked by them. We can have a conversation and have a new function up and running in an hour,' he says.

Indeed, the brand is not resting on its laurels: Moss is streamlining its customer data to deliver more targeted editorial messaging, as well as bringing social media to the forefront of the communications mix. He confides there are 'healthy targets' to reach through a combination of partnership marketing, data acquisition and some above-the-line investment.

The brand already engages in significant partnership marketing, having forged alliances with Mr & Mrs Smith, Bobbi Brown and Sisley. The etailer is also looking to increase its focus on customer reviews, while Facebook activity will include a 'top buys of the season' function.

My-wardrobe and Moss make a neat fit. He is one of a new breed of entrepreneurial, tech-savvy marketers breaking free of the traditional corporate world to work with brands where they feel they can make a difference to the business. He is clearly at ease in this milieu. 'It's a cliche, but retail is all about the detail and integration of technology. Mcommerce is a key focus for us. At the end of the day, we are a content business,' he adds.

With ecommerce darling ASOS an ever-present threat - and one that's based almost on My-wardrobe's Camden doorstep - will the luxury site look to discounting and free delivery? No, insists Moss. 'We offer tailored packaging options to high net-worth individuals; it is about speed and service.'

There are areas in which the company believes it can improve, particularly loyalty and sizing, where Moss is focused on innovation. As a luxury etailer, a sizeable chunk of the stock My-wardrobe sends out to its highly selective customer base gets returned; for example, a customer may order the same item in several different colourways or sizes, then return the ones that do not fulfil their requirements.

This represents a significant logistical challenge. 'There is a huge opportunity to innovate around sizing, both to improve the customer experience and reduce the costs of returns,' explains Moss.

My-wardrobe's headquarters certainly has the buzz of a brand on an upswing.

As Moss puts the finishing touches to his team with the appointment of several new marketers, his excitement about his role makes it clear that, inside this self-confessed geek, there was always an inner fashionista just waiting to break out.

2004-2007: Dealer marketing manager, Honda
2007-2009: Global campaign manager, Nokia
2009-2011: Head of marketing, Lastminute.com
2011-present: Global marketing director, My-wardrobe.com

Lives: Walton-on-Thames, with wife and two children
Sport: Tennis, football and cycling
And another thing ... Thai green curry is his signature dish