Alejandro Betancourt Lopez’s Hawkers Lands On Amazon UK’s Virtual Try-On Service | Fashion Week Online®
T here are no unflattering mirrors and lighting at home, but buying clothes and accessories online can be a shady business. And there’s still angst aplenty: The process can be fraught with uncertainty and subsequent buyer’s remorse. No matter how trusted the brand is, a customer won’t be able to try it until they buy it.
This is where virtual technology can help allay some of the fears that stop customers from making a purchase. On the cutting edge of new technology is the Virtual Try-On service available through Amazon UK, which helps customers make smarter decisions. The conglomerate chose sunglasses to test out the technology, and is now featuring select brands on the platform. Alejandro Betancourt Lopez, president of Hawkers, is pleased to be a part of this launch, largely because it echoes the success of past initiatives he’s taken to grow the brand and its influence among the company’s target demographic.
Says Betancourt, “I used the social media advertising that was already in place for Hawkers, allowing us to sell high-end sunglasses at an affordable price. We used guru-style marketing through platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube. Ray-Ban sunglasses cost about $200 a pair, but all our sunglasses were in the range of $20 to $40. We targeted the average customer while still providing the quality of high-end brands. We have since become one of the top 10 fashion companies in the world on value and are well known for selling quality products at a fair price.”
VTO on Amazon UK
Sunglasses can be one of the tougher products to buy online. Customers with a heart-shaped face may appreciate general guides that tell them to go for rectangular sunglasses, but the advice is often too generic to really be of use. Instead of forcing customers to buy multiple pairs only to send a few back, the Virtual Try-On service, at amazon.co.uk/virtualtryon, lets people know exactly what they’re getting into.
The process is as streamlined as everything else on Amazon. Customers with iOS devices can click on the VTO button on the product page, and then point the camera at their face to see how different colors and shapes will look. There are 1,500 products to choose from, all from trusted brands like Calvin Klein and Hawkers.
As they compare and contrast, clients can see how a pair of shades will fit on their cheeks, nose, and forehead. They can also experiment with various angles to help them cement the decision to either buy or abandon. If customers can’t make up their minds, they can take a photo of the sunglasses and share it on social media for comments and reactions. This interactive aspect of the technology is a huge draw for people, particularly if they know someone who will always provide an honest assessment.
The Hawkers Success Story
Amazon UK didn’t develop this technology specifically for Hawkers, but it does fit with the larger values of the brand. Alejandro Betancourt Lopez, along with its four founders, have always embraced how technology could fill the needs of modern-day consumers. In particular, the company has long catered to the fashion sensibilities of younger people.
It’s worth pointing out that profit wasn’t a foregone conclusion. At the beginning of the business, the young founders floundered with the fundamentals of their operation. They certainly had people who were interested in buying, but the cost of fulfilling the orders was eating heavily into their margins. It was making it impossible to scale up when they could barely stay afloat. When they brought Betancourt in, it was as much for his financial investment as it was for his business acumen.
“Hawkers’ financial status was quite poor when I first considered investing in it,” Betancourt recalls. “It wasn’t producing a profit yet, nor did it have the funds needed to maintain production. However, it did own a winery, which I used to keep Hawkers going. The brand itself was also a positive factor, as many people associated it with quality products. I believed that hiring the right people to support my vision would be the key to making the company financially successful.”
Betancourt could see that, in addition to production inefficiencies and customer service deficiencies, the team was spending too much on marketing. He correctly identified that the company’s momentum was driven by a devoted following of young people. Its customers weren’t out to make millions of dollars by becoming supermodels. They were more concerned that friends and families found a brand of sunglasses that was as affordable as it was stylish.
If they talked about Hawkers, it was because they had a sincere love of the eyewear and how it could help them complete nearly any outfit. This was the message Alejandro Betancourt Lopez wanted to push on social media, and it paid off.
Influencer marketing was certainly around in the mid-2010s, but it was nowhere near the saturation level it is today. Betancourt decided to lean into the social media craze by asking young people to do what they did best. By offering modest incentives, including free products, to some of the most passionate and fashionable advocates of the brand, he helped catapult the company to $60 million in revenue.
When Hawkers first started, it was the definition of a fledgling enterprise. The four founders had spent 18 months trying to develop a Craigslist-type site in Spain to no avail. They invested a few hundred dollars in sunglasses on a whim, and they elbowed their way into the fashion world from there.
Part of why they were so successful is because they were able to ask for help. When they saw how difficult it was to manage the logistics of success, they didn’t just assume they would figure it out. Instead, they asked people like Alejandro Betancourt Lopez to intervene. When the company was in a sink-or-swim phase, Betancourt was there to ensure it didn’t go under.
Today, Betancourt continues to help Hawkers push a forward-thinking agenda. In addition to syncing his brand with the latest technology like VTO, he’s also minimizing the impact that Hawkers shades have on the Earth. By hitting strict environmental standards, he’s catering to a generation that cares about the eco-friendliness of the products they buy. As Hawkers looks to the future, its staff is ready to stay on top of the changing needs of its customers. Whether it’s technology, fashion, or sustainability, Betancourt’s company will always look to the horizon before making major decisions.
“My success largely comes from my ability to identify trends that will transform markets and adapt to those trends,” states Betancourt. “These things are changing so fast that it’s essential to anticipate what they mean for consumers and markets.”