My Work: Marco Deseri

Portrait of Marco Deseri of Artemest

Interview: Haris Stavridis // Portrait: Gil Gilbert

Could you please tell us about Artemest?

Artemest is the destination for the most beautiful crafts from Italy. Our platform helps artisans reach an international audience through a modern digital approach. We are building a curated space with a growing number of handpicked artisans in the fields of home décor, jewellery, design and fine art. We launched in late June and our catalogue already features close to 1,500 products from 80 different artisans. While we add more artisans every week, we carefully evaluate each one to keep our assortment outstanding. We strongly believe in the power of their stories: this is why our team interviewed many artisans and captured the core of their legacy and passion in exclusively produced videos. We think videos are crucial in presenting handcrafted products.

What is your role there?

I am heading all digital activities: technology, online marketing and customer service are the key areas. We worked with an agency to design and build the site and they did an amazing job. This was key in going to market faster and allowed the internal team to focus on the tools used by the artisans and our own team. Over the course of next year, the idea is to move development in-house.

Could you please describe your typical day at work?

I live in Bologna and work in Milan, so my day starts early and involves a few hours of commuting. High speed trains helped make this possible and my commute is usually very productive: I have time to set my goals for the day and catch up with emails. It's amazing how fast our days are changing and how much we did in just eight months.

How has your experience at Yoox helped you with your current role? What's the most useful thing you learned there?

Seven years at Yoox taught me a lot. It was intense and challenging—frustrating at times—but in the end very rewarding. I worked with talented and truly passionate people, who collectively achieved amazing results. Ten years ago I'd never thought it possible that an Italian company could become the most important player in fashion e-commerce. Talent, hard work and perseverance bring amazing results. This is the most important lesson I learned and it’s one of the reasons I’m so confident about the future of Artemest.

What are your business priorities for the next six months?

Customer acquisition is the top priority. We are working to acquire both end customers and to create a network of interior design professionals and decorators.

What kinds of tools, applications, or services make your everyday business life easier?

I rely on many apps and services: Slack helps in keeping the team aligned without over relying on email; we use to store and share media assets. Some of my favourite apps are on my iPhone: Reeder to go through my RSS list, Pocket to save interesting articles, and Evernote to take notes and scan documents so I can easily find them months later.

When it comes to fashion and business news, what's on your daily reading list? Any great business books you'd like to recommend?

My RSS list counts hundreds of sources, most of which are about technology and digital. Business of Fashion helps me keep up with the fashion industry and I keep a close eye on Tech Crunch, as I am very interested in the startup scene. The print version of The Economist is one of my favourite weekly reads. Being so passionate about data and digital analytics, I highly recommend a classic: Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik.

What is the biggest setback you have faced in your career and how did you respond to it?

It's from a few years ago: it was the first time I was tasked with managing a growing team of people and I wasn't fully prepared. We were under constant pressure and a part of the team was not responding as I hoped. While we achieved our business goals, there was a lot of contrast inside the team. I felt I needed a change. After the rush was over, I took on a new challenge inside the company, basically starting from scratch in a new position. It felt so refreshing!

What are your three biggest headaches at work right now?

At this stage, securing funds to sustain growth is one of the key aspects. The other big challenge is customer acquisition.

A great number of fashion and retail companies have embraced content marketing in order to boost their sales and Artemest seems to be one of them. What is the right way to approach content according to you?

We believe stories are the heart and soul of our products. This is the reason we are dedicating that much effort to our content strategy. We invested heavily in digital content production and in our magazine. We independently produced video interviews with our artisans and we publish three new articles every week. It's a big bet for a startup, as there are cheaper ways to run an online store. We value beauty and quality and our content strategy reflects those values. The right strategy always depends on the core values of each company: I love working at Artemest because we all share the passion for things well executed.

What are the biggest challenges for luxury companies trying to offer an effortless mobile browsing and shopping experience to demanding customers worldwide? Can luxury truly fit into a small screen?

Luxury has a growing place on small screens, but this doesn't mean small screens can provide luxury class experiences. Part of the problem is that digital experiences are so similar and increasingly aligned: even perfect execution can not guarantee exclusive or unique experiences. What makes a product special is very difficult to convey digitally. Outstanding content and service can be important differentiators and there are still creative ways to delight customers. It's an endless race.

It seems that personalisation is key when it comes to mobile commerce. What kind of services do you see happening based on this need?

Relevancy is key and personalisation is one of the ways to get there. In mobile, experiences are at their best when they are simple and narrow in scope, but e-commerce is broad: customers need to explore and shop for products, interact with customer service, stay informed about their order status and easily return a product they don't like. Mobile apps/sites serve the first task, shopping, very well. I see a growing market in serving the other tasks as well, with simple, dedicated experiences that are contextually relevant.

What's the one thing that fashion retailers need to stop doing when it comes to their e-commerce strategy, especially when it comes to the field of User Experience?

Over complicating their sites and adding features to solve a problem in the wrong way. Let's take QuickView as an example: if customers use QuickView it is likely because of two underlying problems: images in category pages are too small and product pages load too slow. Those are the things to focus on. Another thing is the lack of care in typography; there are no excuses today for poor typography on a fashion site.

What kind of opportunities do you see in your field at the moment?

I see a bright future in service-related apps that simplify life for the online shopper. The return experience is an area I see full of opportunities, largely untouched.

Who would you like to recommend next for My Work?

My wife Giorgia Roversi, who's an expert in service innovation and customer experience, and my friend Andrea Trocino, who's an authority in mobile commerce.

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