Luxury e-retailer Ashford names a new president
August 26, 2015 06:00 AM
Luxury e-retailer Ashford.com hired industry veteran Engle Saez as its president with the new added title of chief e-commerce officer. Saez says he will use his more than 25 years in retail to expand Ashford’s offerings to such products as jewelry, handbags, eyewear and high-end writing instruments.
“Our [e-commerce] platform has a tremendous amount of leverage potential, and the long-term vision is to take advantage of that,” says Saez, 59, a former chief marketing officer at Blue Nile, No. 85 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, and Eddie Bauer (No. 103). He’s also a former marketing and category management senior vice president at Starbucks (No. 456), and co-founder and former president of women’s sleepwear firm Zovo Lingerie LLC. He most recently was managing director of Brand DNA Associates LLC, a management and strategy consultancy.
At Ashford.com, a key goal is to attract more female shoppers, Saez says, though he could not give specific demographics on Ashford’s customers.
“We already have a small amount of jewelry built into the site,” he says. “Expect to see the jewelry category built out. That’s important because the customer we can attract through jewelry is much more of a female customer. It allows us to participate in a broader cross-section of important holidays. For instance, for Mother’s Day, I may not buy a watch for my mother, but I’d definitely buy her jewelry. The same is true for a daughter and similar occasions. Jewelry will help us extend that,” Saez says.
“We want to ensure that Ashford gives our customers the same and a superior experience across all touchpoints when they are discovering what kind of watch they need,” says Mozes Hoch, Ashford.com CEO and chairman who has filled the president’s role for the past four years.
“We want to give help and advice by curating our knowledge and expertise in the luxury and watch business,” he says. “It’s all about offering convenience and a good experience to customers. That has to come from the top.”
Ashford has many repeat customers, Hoch says, and he is counting on Saez to push more data analysis so the retailer communicates in a more personalized and customized way. The e-retailer has started that initiative by translating its website into Mandarin, Korean, Taiwanese, Japanese and traditional Chinese languages for customers in those countries, Hoch says.
Hoch says he oversaw Ashford’s expansion globally in the past four years: 50% of Ashford’s business now comes from overseas, with 45% of the total business coming from Asia. The company has hired 25 employees in Hong Kong and China in the past two years. “Customers want to have a local experience, and we want to further understand the customer and focus on improving their experience with us,” he says.
Saez says Ashford is a solid company that has built equity and trust by selling authentic products that it stands behind. He says he intends to supplement the existing staff with employees skilled in buying, merchandising, content creation and online technology.
“We will start with presenting the product in an aspirational way,” Saez says. “You’ll see a significant shift in the look and feel of our presentation,” Saez says. “Our copy will change, our photography, our graphics—all those things that conspire to create the DNA of the brand.”