S5 E23: The ethical implications of using AI-generated content in fashion marketing with Ivy City Co’s VP of Performance Marketing Rachel Ricks


Mariah Parsons and Rachel discussed the importance of prioritizing customer experience and tailored marketing strategies to grow e-commerce brands. They emphasized the significance of celebrating milestones, launching new collections, and understanding the target audience to create effective marketing strategies. Later, Mariah and Rachel discussed digital marketing strategies, including social media marketing, influencer marketing, and the ethical implications of using AI-generated content in fashion marketing. They also explored the challenges of the apparel industry, including returns and exchanges, and the need to balance profit margins with offering lower prices to attract more customers.

Episode Timestamps:

  • 0:05 E-commerce brand growth and marketing strategies with Ivy City Co

  • 3:24 Marketing strategies and roles within a company

  • 9:33 Using AI in photo shoots for fashion brand, balancing efficiency with human connection

  • 16:36 PR and social media strategies for a fashion brand

  • 21:31 Leveraging Instagram and TikTok for a clothing brand, with a focus on content strategy and audience engagement

  • 25:07 Social media presence and trustworthiness

  • 30:51 Marketing strategies and customer experience for a fashion brand

  • 37:33 Apparel industry returns and exchanges, with strategies to reduce them

  • 41:50 Reducing returns in retail with a focus on product pricing and marketing

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This transcript was completed by an automated system, please forgive any grammatical errors.


dress, people, love, brand, returns, pr, launch, customers, guess, customer experience, fun, instagram, social, buy, marketing, work, year, consumer, find, agency


Rachel Ricks, Mariah Parsons

Mariah Parsons 00:05

Greetings and welcome to retention Chronicles, the podcast with learnings from expert e commerce brands and partners. I'm your host, Ryan Parsons. If you're here, you're either on a quest for ecommerce enlightenment, or you accidentally clicked the wrong link. Either way, I am thrilled you stumbled into our corner of the internet. And I hope you'll stick around. We've got pearls of wisdom for everyone, whether you're running a multimillion dollar business, or simply just starting out on your entrepreneurial journey. Before we unleash the brilliance of today's guest, let's give a shout out to our podcast sponsor Malomo. Malomo is so much more than just another Shopify app, their post purchase wizards making beautiful and branded order tracking smoother than a jazz solo. So our amazing founders, like our guests can keep their customers happy and up to date while they track their orders. So hit that subscribe button, like it'll increase your LTV overnight, and go listen to her other episodes. Echo malomo.com That's gomalomo.com. Get ready for insights chuckles and perhaps a profound realization or two with this newest episode of retention. Hello, everyone, and welcome back to retention Chronicles. I'm joined by Rachel today. So excited to have you here today with us. It is going to be a great episode, I already know it. These are my favorite favorite conversations that I get to have during the week. Our audience members know this. And I told you this as well that we just launched. This will be like I said, this will be going live in July. So it will be it'll seem like a lifetime away from today. But beginning of May just launched our Costco integration this morning on the Malomo side. So I know I was so excited to get through that push publish on this. And then I got to finish off my day chat with you, Rachel. So we are going to start with you having with you saying hello to our listeners and then giving a bit of your background and then we'll dive into it.

Rachel Ricks 02:07

Awesome. Yeah, super excited to be here. Thank you for the invite. The I've been excited about it. Yeah, I can just give a little bit of background of me. I am the VP of performance marketing at Ivy city CO. We are mostly a women's dress company. We've got a few other things that we've been testing out the last year like blouses and shoes and jewelry and things like that. But Ivy's been around we by the time this comes out, we'll have hit our ninth birthday or night for like I was exciting. Okay, yeah, come on up here in a few weeks. So it's it's been fun to just even I've been with the brand for almost a year. But just to go back and look at all the things that the brand sent over the nine years and how it's evolved. It's it's been a fun time for sure. Yeah,

Mariah Parsons 02:51

I love that. Are you doing anything fun for the ninth birthday? Celebration? Or can you tell us a little bit about it? I'm

Rachel Ricks 02:57

so cute. Yeah, well, yeah. So this week, we'll launch we're calling it our party collection. Think sparkles, sequins, bidule. Dresses, lots of tool. They're cute. They're cute, cute, cute dresses. I I keep thinking how am I going to give myself enough excuses to buy all of these and wear like, where? Will I wear them too? But so we'll do that. And then we'll do a little birthday sale to here in a few weeks.

Mariah Parsons 03:24

Oh, that'd be awesome. I feel like right now. And it definitely influenced by the arrows tour and Taylor Swift and it just everything is so girly. And I love it. Between

Rachel Ricks 03:35

releases in the Barbie movie, we're like, Oh, these are our people. Yes.

Mariah Parsons 03:39

Yeah, exactly. Have you been listening to the new album? Are you

Rachel Ricks 03:46

loving the new album?

Mariah Parsons 03:47

They just literally like two minutes before I hopped on this call is like okay, I guess. Yep. And then come back to it. Of course. Um, when it's all said and done, but okay. Very exciting. I feel like yeah, nine years. That is, that is an incredible accomplishment. Because just the, you know, the percent of people that you know, found a business and then actually make it to, like a year, let alone nine is pretty impressive. Yeah. That's awesome. So you've been with IV? Do you all say IV city or IV? Because I think you said either or right. Yeah. Either.

Rachel Ricks 04:26

The company's IV city but yeah, a lot of people just say IV. Yeah.

Mariah Parsons 04:31

Okay. Wonderful. Maybe by the end of this podcast, I can be like in the in crowd. Totally. It's like the nickname Right? Um, okay, so you joined the team a year ago. So what can you kind of walk us through your background before IV and just like how you landed out this team? Yeah. Yeah, I

Rachel Ricks 04:53

worked in the agency space for quite a few years. Let's see probably six and a half, seven years was a two different agencies and started off specifically in the paid social space and worked a lot with Facebook and Instagram and then Pinterest and then tick tock when that came along. The agency that I finished that I was there for about five years. And by the end, I was over all of the social division. So I had probably about 25 people in my division running social ads for both b2b and b2c clients. And we had about 150 ish accounts that rolled up to me. And my job was to make sure that these clients were having the best experience that we could give them that they were hitting their goals and results and that the the people on my team were learning and progressing to so a lot of experience in the social sphere. From there, I went to a beauty brand, where my main job was to help with new customers, and brand and revenue growth. And that was a lot of fun did that I found that I really liked working in house with a brand because you can go a little bit deeper, though I will always be so grateful for everything I learned at the agencies. And then Ivy city, my sister actually sent me the job posting and said, I think this may be your dream job. And I said I think you might be Yeah, so I applied for that job, I applied for the job just to see what they were looking for, and ended up being a really good match. And so currently what I'm doing, I oversee, basically anything that we put spend behind so our paid ads on all the different platforms is one arm of it. And we've got the influencer and like affiliate team is the second arm. And customer retention with email marketing and templates, SMS, customer lifetime journey, all of that. And there's so much you can do with email templates in ecom these days. And then PR so those are, those are like the four buckets. I've got my hands in currently, which which has been a lot of fun. It's been cool to be able to dive deeper into just like every part of the business. It's also it's a tricky job because I feel really responsible for revenue because oh my god, all new customers and all customers. All right. Yes, I will. I'll help them all. But it's it's a lot of fun to figure out what people are looking for and how to give them the best experience.

Mariah Parsons 07:24

I love that. So it's totally okay if you don't have a mental like rank of them. But I'm always curious, because paid social is probably something that we will not probably I know. We don't really a lot of our traffic is organic. And so I'm always curious to hear how someone like NPR to like, do you have just what you enjoy? And what you find the most interesting to work on? Like, what really gets you going? Do you have like a dental rank of those four categories?

Rachel Ricks 07:53

Yeah, I love I mean, it's what I've done the most. And I love paid social. I think for me, it's a really good mix of creative meets analytics. And those are the like the two parts of my brain that I really like playing around with. So I like being able to look through our creative and say, Is this giving the right message to the person? Are they hearing what they need to hear. And it's interesting with dresses, because a lot of a lot of marketing, I think can get really sloppy to just be like, Oh, it's a pretty dress, let's show it to people, let's find the right person. But to really give them the right experience. Like some of our best ads are ones where people are taking like selfie videos in the mirror and talking about what they love about themselves in the dress. Like I love how this makes me look, I love how this makes me feel. And just to be able to connect to someone a little bit deeper, versus just like, Oh, it's a putt, it's a pretty dress that's fun and then meets the analytic side of, okay, what are the numbers behind this? What do I need to do to hit our revenue targets or CAC targets or just every number you can think of and those mesh really well for me and social. Because they have both of them. I also find like YouTube campaigns to be a lot of fun I think because of the same thing I just it gets my creative brain working so that's fun, but PR PR has also been kind of fun too. That one's more of like it's a longer journey of seeing results from it but every once in a while we get a really big hit that we were working on like three or four months ago and then seeing some of the like I guess fruit of our labors from that start and and like see a big partnership come together that's also a lot of fun.

Mariah Parsons 09:32

Okay, love it. So social and PR are definitely the top

Rachel Ricks 09:38

probably I mean you need everything else right you need the surgeon and influencers and all of that it's it's all good but for me that's where I I find a lot of fun.

Mariah Parsons 09:48

Yes, yeah, I think I yeah, I very much you know, like SEO search is one of those things of you need to do it like there is a lot of fun So it benefits to be eligible. But I kind of in the same encampment, I guess were being able to find a creative way to showcase this on social. And I call it I guess, chaotic, like neutral marketing, where it's just like Duolingo, or the world where their team has so much confidence in each other that they're able to be. Just, they're able to stretch the line a little bit. Past, like what you would expect, and it works, at least in my opinion, really works. Yeah. Especially in the day and age of engagement is what you're looking for, and like attention. So I always I always find it so interesting. And then PR as well, we've seen just with some organic stuff around launches, how it's like you said a little bit longer tail results. When you're when you're dealing with that kind of thing. You said that some of your best ads are more like UGC type of people actually trying on dresses and talking about you know, this is XYZ reason why I'm really like in the dress, do you find that? Like for UGC ads, you're able to pull from like, are you so this is how I want to phrase it? Are you seeing people just talk about your dresses naturally? Or are you going out and finding influencers of like, okay, this is their audience matches our target audience. So we want to do more of an organized like affiliate campaign with that person.

Rachel Ricks 11:42

Yeah, we do a little of both. It's interesting, I think, this one word for every business, but the product is really good. It's high quality. I know it makes my job so much easier. And so a lot of times we'll have people reach out, or we'll reach out to influencers. And we, we don't do a lot of upfront payments, it just hasn't worked well for us in the past. So we'll do like an affiliate thing and percentage of sales or like product trade, depending on the person and the following and things like that. But it's so interesting to me that if we say, I don't know that this partnership will work, most of the time, that person will come back and be like, Okay, I'll do the product trade, or I'll do the percent of sales or things like that, which is so nice, because it speaks to the product that people want it. Which is, I guess a little bit of a tangent. But to answer your question, we do a little bit of both. So we get a lot of just, and I guess where I was going with that is we get a lot of good content without really having to pay a ton of money for it because people want the product. So I definitely pull from our influencer, like specific programs that we have going on. And we'll run some of those ads. But it's been interesting to me just to even, I want it to be authentic, but at our photoshoots either me or the videographer who's there, I'll just have them pull them and be like, Hey, I've ever dress you put on today, which one's your favorite? Okay, now just like, can you just talk to the camera like you're talking to your sister and tell me what you like about this dress. And so then they'll go find their favorite dress like this is one of my like the best. This is why I like how I look at it. I like this cut. And those have done really well. So I'll try to do a mix of things. We always will have a mix of more professionally curated videos to with our launches. But that Yeah, I think the ones that feel raw and personal to people, they just tend to resonate. Yes.

Mariah Parsons 13:39

Okay. So I love that you brought up kind of how you're thinking through an actual photo shoot of like, what you're I guess prompting someone to think about, like, a dress in a certain way or like, talk like you're talking to your sister. And I think this is something that I it was a recent dove campaign of it was like a national campaign, they were speaking to how like aI generated images will just be become more and more common. So I want to ask, Is that something you all are thinking through? Or has that popped up at all in terms of like their their campaign was around like, we will never use AI generated content? Because that's not what we've been working for. For 20 years? I don't know if you saw this, it was like going around on social for a bit. And I got it sent to me. And I was like, Oh, that's a great campaign. Yeah. So I'm curious, like, what are your preliminary thoughts, I guess, are there any discussions around what this could look like? What it maybe wouldn't look like all that stuff? Yeah,

Rachel Ricks 14:46

we've talked we've just very briefly talked about it. It's interesting, right? Because there's a lot of costs associated with photo shoots and they're needed and they're they Like pay for themselves, but there's a lot of cost with it. And so it's like, do we shoot everything in studio right now we do everything in lifestyle and everything in studio. So do we just shoot everything in studio and have a I put the beautiful lifestyle background shots in it, we want people to see lifestyle, I think it helps sell the dress better to be able to see where you would wear this, like, what does this look like? But I feel like there's an ethical question there too with? Do we just shoot it on a mannequin and then have an AI generated model? I don't think we'd ever go there. Because I do think there's an ethical mind. Like, I want the models to have work. I want to I think there's a human connection. Obviously, that's better than an AI. Yeah, like a generated connection. So we'd like very briefly talked about and is this something that we would do to save on costs? Is it worth it in the long run? What does that all look like? And so I think there is probably a balance between the two of like, yeah, maybe it's more effective and efficient for our team to shoot some things in studio still on a model. But like maybe AI generate background so that we can give people different options of this is the dress at the beach, this is the dress at The Chapel, this is the dress at the park kind of a thing, which hopefully would be more helpful to the consumer, which is just doesn't make sense. timewise or budget wise to shoot at so many locations currently. So that could potentially be helpful. But yeah, AI is an interesting one. I mean, I use, I use it to help me write ad copy. And yeah, I

Mariah Parsons 16:36

was, um, yeah, see.

Rachel Ricks 16:39

I love that. But yeah, I'm interested to see where that all goes. But yeah, very, it's a very, very high level conversation.

Mariah Parsons 16:45

So far. Yes, I do think too. Yeah, the differences of like images versus copy for like, creative versus copy. And then also like the story that you're telling of like, okay, what's the most important piece like, it should be how someone feels in this dress versus another dress? So it's like, that's the main point, then like, maybe that should be like you said, something that is not generated with the software, but then something that is maybe more of like a minor note of the whole campaign that could, you know, like a background or even like product images that you can make it like, okay, have this be sitting in this setting? Right? Yeah, have the same product be sitting in this setting? All that stuff. Um, so super interesting. I want to keep talking about all of the like nuances with, like social media and PR, because they're very closely related, and isn't often that we get someone who also is in charge of PR. So I would love to hear how you kind of compare and contrast the two of like, this is where they work really well together, obviously trying to get maximum coverage. But then where do you kind of draw the line between like, this is what sits in the PR bucket versus this is what sits in the social bucket?

Rachel Ricks 18:05

Yeah, I think we're, we're in a really cool spot as a company that our social like organic social does. So well. I think we spend a lot of time there, we've gone out of our way to feel like I don't even know the word but a brand. Hopefully people want to follow and we take like, we take it really seriously when people tag us in things. We want to comment on those. We want to interact with our community, like we really want to be a community, I think that's what I'm looking for, is really taken that seriously that our social is a community building space. And so everything there is a little bit more fun, a little bit more engaging. I think depending on the platform, we've got slightly different content or images for tick tock than we do Instagram, but PR for us, we've seen the most success in putting our new or our unique things out there. So we just launched a like a bridesmaids, bridal line so bridesmaids, little flower girl dresses, matching like groomsmen ties, bow ties. And so that's where the PR space has really picked up for us is can we get on the publishers that brides are looking at? Can we get on the places that people are looking for? Even like wedding guests type dresses, and, and then working with a team to okay, go find those people? How do we get there? What does that look like? Um, the other thing PR has done really well for us, which has kind of been a secondary, like additional KPI that I've really liked is that organic traffic is way up. I think because we have so many links that it's kind of playing that SEL role for us in a lot of ways. And we start we've started ranking for a lot of search terms organically that we weren't before we were really pushing PR and so that's That's kind of how that's worked. And then all of our dresses come in, usually 24, sizes 11, if it's Alpha sizing, it's extra extra small through 5x. And then 24, if it's numeric, we're double zero through 34. And so just making sure that that stores in the right place two that we are a very inclusive brand, and inclusive in the Mommy and Me space. So I really love when customers come back and say, on all in all sizes, that they love that they can match their daughter. Like, if someone's an extra extra small, typically, there's not a cut for them and a cut for a little girl. Different that would fit to both styles, right? And then the same thing, like I love when people come back and say, Thank you so much for having my size and my daughter size on the plus size aspect of it too. And I really love that we've been able to make that community. So I think we play that really well in our socials too. And I think those work together, but PR wise, getting in the right articles getting in the right spaces, so that those communities know what we're offering has been really impactful. And that being both plus and mommy and me, mommy and me is one of our our specialties. I feel like we were one of the first brands to do that. And anyways, that's just been a lot of fun. So yeah, that will be showcased on social and a little bit more fun way. But PR wise, we're just trying to get ourselves in the right spots so that people know. Yes, that totally

Mariah Parsons 21:30

makes sense. I feel like with the mommy aspect of your product line. Like when I was going through the website, I was like the little girl in me that I was playing with American Girl dolls and like, wanted to match my marriage. I was like, this is exactly that translated into a real life or the Barbie movie. Like, you're just you're wanting to match whatever. Yeah,

Rachel Ricks 21:53

any kids, but all the time. I'm like, Ah, do I just need to buy these little girl clothes just in case?

Mariah Parsons 21:59

It's just add them? Yeah, yeah. Like, do they fit a pet? Like where can I? Right? Yeah, very, very fun. Um, you also mentioned something that stuck out to me, which was that like, your content is slightly different for Instagram and tick tock, I think a lot of the brands I've spoken with on this podcast and a lot of the, you know, just like what I see very on the internet and what people are paying attention to. A lot of people are trying to crack tick tock because it's the newer, newest platform, and it's like you can, the virality component of it is very strong and all that jazz. So I would love for you to kind of double tap on that a little bit more and explain it because something that I think that's something that could be very tactical for brands if they're trying to have Okay, their tick tock account and their Instagram account, like where can they reuse content or use the same type? And then what are you You know, what are you doing to make it different?

Rachel Ricks 22:52

Yeah, yeah, I think we we work a lot as a team to figure that out. I don't know that there's an exact answer and it'll probably change again in the next few months but but Instagram for us has been more like our curated videos work really well there where they don't on tick tock and so the things that we go out and video for a collection will still post them in both places, but they don't necessarily take off on tick tock. We've done some videos like the guest, the singer type video. And it's been fun because we're for a lot of our shoots, we have models of 11 to 24 sizes there so we can showcase the full size range. And we'll do like yes the singer type things with that. And that's one that does really well on Instagram and really well on Tik Tok. I think everyone's like just that no matter where they are, they want to guess they want to be a part of that. Some of the things that are a little bit like more fun behind the scenes doesn't necessarily fit like our style on Instagram, but it's fun and typically does decently well on Tik Tok. So it's it's always a little bit of a balance between it I feel like with reels and what Instagram is pushing that platform has become a little bit more tic talkie, so to speak to and so it's, I feel like the the overlap is getting more and more. But Instagram, for us, is a lot of people who have either bought from us or would like to buy from us. And our price points or our price points a little bit higher than other people in the space. Which I think our dress quality really speaks to and so if someone buys from us than they, they they usually also are excited about the price because they they see the quality of the dress. So we've got the people who have bought and the people who would like to buy someday, usually an Instagram or Tiktok. For us. I feel like it's more of a new customer place of people who are watching because of some of the fun videos or because of the fun content that we've had. So I will speak to people a little bit differently there too with launches. Instagrams, a really big community for us. Where tick tock is. Maybe those friends kind of a thing that we the friends we'd love to bring in. Yeah.

Mariah Parsons 25:13

Yeah, I like kind of a higher higher funnel like brand. Yeah. You're just getting acquainted with like, what is what are we? What do you all even do type thing rather than someone who's on Instagram? Probably looking? I was. Yeah,

Rachel Ricks 25:28

I'm assuming we're talking to someone who knows us. Tick tock. I'm assuming we're talking to someone who doesn't know us.

Mariah Parsons 25:32

Yeah. Okay. That's a that's a great, I guess. Easy, generalist. Live Live guy in the crazy land of social media. I was speaking to. So I live in Indianapolis, but I went to a ecommerce DC happy hour in Chicago, and I was speaking to someone there who runs social for his brand. And he and we were talking about how like, I go on someone's social media, especially if I'm not familiar with their name before seeing it online, and go to their social media to like, look through, okay, what do they offer? What you know, are they reputable brand, all that, you know, all that kind of stuff? Where as a thing, like my parents generation would, wouldn't think to go on Instagram, like, verify the I tell my mom that all the time? Isn't that hilarious? And he was like, Oh, I've never thought about that. And he's like, You just gave me a great idea of like, what we need to do, because they haven't been they just are, you know, getting started on they haven't really hacked the social media side of things yet. Um, yeah. So that's like, Oh, my God, that's such a good thing to know

Rachel Ricks 26:42

for like, yeah, I use that all the time at the agency I worked with because we would do, we had what I consider to be fun brands, we had a lot of fun brands. And then we had a lot of brands that like, is it worth their time and effort to invest in an organic strategy? I don't know. Probably not. Like, I don't know that. You should spend too much money for the car dealership down the road, like, or a bank or like things like that, that? You totally could. But if, if it's not a priority, I'd always tell people, like have a presence there, though. So when someone looks you up, you look legit. Because that's my mom will send me ads all the time and be like, is this a legitimate company? And I always say, have you looked at their Instagram? Yeah. What does their website look like? Does it look like it's legit? You're probably okay. This one's kind of scammy you're not don't don't buy?

Mariah Parsons 27:26

It's not worth it? Yeah, yeah. I've had the same conversations with my mom as well. Like, she'll send me something. She's like, this is cute. Is it good? Like, is it good to buy from like, well, let's, let's look at a couple of things. Especially like, if it's someone if it's a targeted ad, and like now from working in this space, I know that right. But like, having to explain that to someone who isn't in marketing, or just in this space at all, like my mother's in health care. And so to not know, like, Oh, this is someone that's either a targeted ad like a sponsored ad, or it's someone who might be an influencer or something, something of the sort. If like, your first interaction with something is trying to sell you on, like, just go like, click on the profile that is talking to you right now. And just see what you get right? Of like, if they if this person has like zero posts probably don't like, or their message or their right, like, little things like that, where I guess it's like, etiquette, maybe like social media, or whatever that may be inherited, inherited from growing up in

Rachel Ricks 28:33

this. Yeah, I would love someday, maybe I should just do it to be like, a PSA to everyone on Facebook, who's over 40 years old. giveaways are scams. If you click on it, and the page was made yesterday. Yeah,

Mariah Parsons 28:49

yeah. Exactly. A great example as well. Good to be true. It's probably too good to be. Yeah, exactly. Sadly, this is so timely, too. Because just last night, my friend, we're coming back to Taylor set knows that I would love to see her in concert. And so and I saw her in concert already, but like, how could I not? Yeah, totally. And so and she's coming to Indianapolis? So I was like, yeah, the opportunity. Yeah. So he had sent me someone who posted in a Facebook group of, you know, I have these four tickets I'm trying to sell and from me being in marketing, when I saw the screenshot, and I guess it's after like the text itself. He was like, the email from Ticketmaster was like from the screenshot was fuzzier than like when they typed over their like own name and like your tickets are confirmed or whatever. And I was like, You sneaky people because I don't know unless you would know like i i know that still look for the weirdness, quote, unquote, and an email thing that would be off because I work in this industry, but people who don't are like a 14 Your old who's seen that and sending that to her mom, and the mom is like, oh my god, I'd love to take you like, right. They're just gonna, it's so sad. So I was, you know, telling my friends that I was with and I was like, stay safe because No, no. Um, yeah, so it's definitely a tangent and I think very applicable of bringing it back to make sure that your presence even if you're not like going viral, or if you don't have hundreds of 1000s of followers, there still is something there is yes, there is something there's value of just having consistent brand. awareness or appearance on social media for that reason. Which is yeah, it's just, I'm sure everyone has felt at least once in their life of like, oh, do I trust this brand? Yep. How do I investigate? So little disclaimer out there? I guess. Um, so I would love to hear about what it was like transitioning from just focusing more on the paid social side with agencies and representing, you know, a Rolodex or a book of different brands versus in house, and focusing more on performance marketing, and like the four different buckets that spoke to earlier in the episode, like, what was something that you when you hopped into this seat, you weren't maybe expecting or had been a challenge? That was like unforeseen?

Rachel Ricks 31:27

Yeah. Yeah, it's interesting, just the depth that you go into focusing on one brand versus a lot of brands, which I think has been super fun. But just, I think like, I had, I had a really cool opportunity at the agency I was at to eventually, I was working just with our the biggest brand that we were working with, with a couple other people. And so I kind of got that experience from the agency side of, okay, these people are spending enough, there's enough going on that like they can they they merit someone's full time attention from us. And so I got to see, like, get a taste of that. Even there. But the biggest difference I think being in house has been I knew what all these channels did, right? Like I worked with their in house teams, or I worked with other people at the agency. Like I knew really well how these work together, I knew the strategies behind all of them. It's been interesting to figure out how the details of everything worked together. For like a brand for for us like a launch. Just the details that down to our customer service team needs to know which it's just not been in my sphere before. I've just been so marketing focused on like, Oh, right. Customer service, you would probably really like to know this, or website needs to be ready to go before I want something. Oh, obviously. Right. But just like little things like that have come up. Um, I think the other thing that's been cool is just I feel like I've gotten to be more almost even have a business leader to think through what is our promotional strategy? Do we want to be a promotional brand? We don't want to be a promotional brand. So what does that look like? What does the what what happens when we move items to a discount bucket or markdown page? Do we want to market that? Do we not like what does the long term effect look like on the brand versus what's our return on adspend? Today, kind of a thing? And I'm obviously still looking at that. But some of those bigger picture questions have been fun to dive into. I think the same thing on like, even the supply chain side. never had to worry about any of that with like at an agency, but to work with that team to say, okay, are the things going to get here in time? What does that mean for marketing? If they do or don't? What's the impact to sales? If we put like a ship by date on something? Or do a preorder? What does that do to like my revenue targets? Do I think they move because of that, and so just like all of those details, and how they play together, in the larger sphere for a business has probably been the biggest difference. But I think it's been a lot of fun, because it's a lot of like, small challenges that need problem solved. And I like doing that. Yes, yeah. I

Mariah Parsons 34:16

love that. I love that you brought up one, the supply chain of like, just having to think through, okay, that's the ability of all of this and the customer experience in ecommerce as well. So, as our listeners know, we talk a lot about the customer experience and like how, I guess the, like little or touches like air quotes on that, because like, we all are consumers and we know it's like a little touch but it's also like it means so much in the consumer world of like, really going the extra mile and making sure that customer experience is a good one. So I would love to know how are you thinking about the customer experience from like a marketing standpoint, where you're like, checking in, I guess, with your team of like, okay, what is what are these little things that we can tweak, or what are the, you know, the knobs that we can turn to make sure that the customer experience is, you know, staying to be is keeping up with the expectation your customers have?

Rachel Ricks 35:09

Yeah, I think I mean, customer experience is at the root of everything, because my numbers will never make sense. If people only ever buy once. Like, the whole way everything is programmed, what we're spending, what we're doing is so that people will come back. And so I need them to have the best experience possible to so that the business grows and so that everything keeps working. So that being said, like that those details I feel like are constantly at the top of my mind with like, so an example from this last week, which will be timely when this episode comes out is we've got a dress that will launch with our Fourth of July collection that the manufacturer put on a boat instead of air shipping like they were supposed to. So I what I spent yesterday doing was thinking through all of the different marketing scenarios, do we launch it with our Fourth of July collection? Or do we not the dresses to Fourth of July II to me for it to launch with anything else? And so then also looking through, okay, so we're, we're going to be a few weeks later getting this than I thought, can I launch it at the same time with its collection? Should it be its own one off thing? What does that look like? I'd like people to buy this with the little girls version or with the family version of this. And so from a customer perspective, it's probably not the best experience for them if they have to pay for shipping twice. Or if they have to get this multiple times or if that this version isn't out when there's other versions that will be out. And so then I'm also thinking through like, will they get it in time for the Fourth of July, that's what we're calling out. And at the end of the day, yes, they'll get it in time for the Fourth of July. So we'll probably just end up putting a like this will ship by x date, they'll still get it in time from a customer's perspective. If they buy something else with us, we'll probably split ship and we'll cover the cost of the second shipping so that they are having a good experience if they're they're buying multiple things from us. But that's that's like a very small example of of how we do that. But But yeah, I want I want our customers have really good experience. I think that's something that we do really well. And it's something that is a differentiator for us in the market is that we do make sure customers come first. And so yeah, even those small details are are important in that aspect.

Mariah Parsons 37:32

Yeah, for sure. And I love that. It was real quick, but you said like it, you have the I guess like this, this dress will, will ship later. Because you have that expectation right, right there front and center for the customer to see. So that if and when you know, they get that second shipment, they're not like what is going on here. And they know that yeah, the most important part is that they're buying something and when they intend to wear it, they'll have it all. Even if it's you know, when they're buying it, you don't maybe have it in your warehouse or wherever you're sitting from. Um, I also want to ask, and I know we're rounding up. On our time here, do notoriously the apparel industry sees a lot of returns and exchanges just because of the nature of you want something to fit. I know like I sometimes struggled with new companies trying their sizing guide and like all the different guidelines and just everybody's different. So I wanted to ask you, yeah, do you all first off? Do you experience a decent amount of return returns and exchanges? And then how are you kind of mindful? Thinking through like what that looks like with a customer experience in this like bigger umbrella topic?

Rachel Ricks 38:49

Yeah, I think a few things come to mind. So Apparel does have higher return rates or exchange rates than anything else. When we look at our KPIs is like a leadership team. We love exchanges. I mean, obviously, we want it to fit the same time. The first time, but if someone's exchanging in that number, our percentage for last week's hire great, they liked the dress, they like the quality, they want to keep it they're just getting the same size. Returns wise, actually, we've done a ton this last year to bring our returns down. And it's worked. We our returns are down significantly year over year. And so a few things. This is mostly on the the product development team, they've done a lot of good work, but we went from we have a few different manufacturers. So sometimes things would fit differently. And so we were giving our customers measurements for every single dress and then they'd have to measure themselves for every single just to make sure that fits and that wasn't a good that was a poor customer experience. So we developed a body chart internally that all of our manufacturers now have to abide by. We check every dress sample that comes in to make sure okay, the extra small Yep, that fits our sizing our extra large Yep, that fits to the body chart that A 5x That fits to the body chart. And so there's always going to be like a tiny bit of difference just that's the nature of the game. But for the most part, having that has been a really positive change for returns. The other thing we've done is we moved any of our tight dresses. So the ones basically that aren't smoked to numeric sizing versus alpha sizing. So instead of having 11 options, from extra extra small to 5x, like I said, we have 24 now. And so, for example, our medium is like an 810, I think, an eight or a 10. Now and so if you're on the smaller size of medium, great, go with an eight if you're on the larger size of media and great go with a 10. And so there's a little bit of variance within that. So because everyone's bodies are different. So if you know like, yeah, my this, this one's fitted in the waist, I've got a smaller waist, I should probably size down or, or something like that. So that that also has been really good. And then like I said, We'd love for people to exchange we do free exchanges, and our customer service team is always trying to help with any customer questions. If, if anyone has a sizing question, we're like, great, send us your measurements will tell you what is it what we recommend for the dress and, and things like that, because I get it Apparel is hard. It's been interesting. This is something I didn't know before working in apparel, I could price things so much I could price things cheaper if we didn't have the return rates that we do. Like, if I do a sale that's like sale on sale, and everything's final sale, I can give everyone such better discounts because I know we won't get any returns. And I don't have to account for that. So it's it's like such a beast. But in the end, it would be better for the company and the consumer. If returns were were better. So that's that's something that is always top of mind for us. Okay, that's a great, I

Mariah Parsons 41:50

haven't heard anyone kind of articulate that of like, if returns were better, which would assault like motivated by both parties of us. Yeah. You know, like, I'm already in disorder, because I want it and you're providing it to me that it would be a better win win scenario. If there was just less returns overall, this is something and I like similar to what you said around I wouldn't have known this without having been in the apparel industry, I would never have given two thoughts about returns and exchanges, the differences all that on like the business end of things, if that happened at Malomo, integrated with loop where that's their whole jam, right of returns and exchanges, and how do you reduce those returns, so that, you know, you can have better profit margins, but also offer your product at a lower price to? Obviously, I

Rachel Ricks 42:44

think people think they're like, oh, businesses are just greedy. They want to get as much money out of them as they can. And the conversations we're consistently having are how do we get prices to be as low as possible because more people will buy like it makes it makes my job easier, the cheaper we can price things, then more people want it. But it's it's like balancing all of those numbers. And yeah, returns is a big part of it. If if something is final sale, I can offer a bigger discount, I can spend more on marketing to get the right person like it changes the numbers quite a bit.

Mariah Parsons 43:14

Yeah. And to I don't even like, again, I would have been naive to all the things that actually cost money and what they cost if I wasn't in this space, like if I was just a consumer and I didn't work in retail, econ, like any anything that touched kind of like a a consumer selling point, I would be like, what the like, you don't need all like all this stuff, it's you probably have such big profit margins. And then it's like no, money can go so quickly. So expensive, like, all of this stuff that you just wouldn't think about. And it's easy, because as a consumer, you're seeing the dollar amount you're going it's just for the product itself, right? You don't think about all the other, you know, software, all other things that are that are feeding into it. But um, so I totally get it. That yeah, it's an easy, it's easy assumption or easy thing to easy fallacy to believe that like, Oh, it's just the cost of the product plus the business getting a little bit on top of it. So I love it. I want to round out this episode, you've given us a couple of teasers in terms of what you're looking forward to in July with product launch. Is there anything else that you want to you know, say to our audience, get out there keeping in mind the timing of our recording and then our launch date for the episode? Yeah, I

Rachel Ricks 44:33

think this is a really exciting time for IV we basically are launching new product every week. So first week of July, we'll we'll finish out our the last of our summer launches and then we go straight into fall. So if if you're getting ready for any sort of follow up event in the next couple of weeks, we've we've got you covered and I'm also really excited I'd said earlier we launched bridal, like a bridal party line. Part one came out in the spring Part Two, just probably came out in the summer before you're listening to this and then part three in the fall we'll come out with like a fall bridal bridesmaids ties again, flower girl, accessories type line and those I just saw the samples for those. They're super cute. So excited about all of those things.

Mariah Parsons 45:19

I'm excited to see them I will ton of weddings coming up. So I'll definitely be adding people be like, check this website out. All that fun stuff. But Rachel, it's been a joy to have you on today. I can't wait to continue to follow you and everything that IV is doing with your weekly product launches, which is like a crazy, insane timeline. So just congrats on being able to do that. But this has been a joy just talking about all things performance marketing with you.

Rachel Ricks 45:44

So thank you, Yes, appreciate it.