If digesting the digital landscape is giving you agita, here’s a remedy: Maison MRKT, a start-up that specializes in e-commerce. The agency will lasso potential customers from the growing number of digital platforms—Instagram, websites, e-blasts, and the ilk—and collect intel you can actually work with. Intrigued? Co-founder Matt Nastos breaks it down.
In a nutshell, what does Maison MRKT do?
We’re an e-commerce customer acquisition agency. We help our clients align their digital presence—whether it’s e-mail, search engine optimization, or social media—with target customers. We offer a blend of services that takes a multichannel approach to e-commerce, and we analyze the relationship between them.
Where did the idea come from?
Maison MRKT was started by me, Matt McGlynn, and my younger brother, Lexi [Nastos]. Matt and I met while working at an e-commerce startup, The Cools. We were responsible for onboarding different collections to the platform. We noticed that a lot of the collections didn’t have an overarching e-commerce strategy. Businesses would spend an enormous amount of money on the development of the online shop, but once it was up and running, there was no one to take the reins and guide the digital retail strategy.
So how did you land on the name?
I’m a big fan of Johan Lindeberg and his collection BLK DNM. So I came up with BLK MRKT, but it was already another company. Then on Mr. Porter, I saw Maison Margiela, and thought that alliteration had a great ear-feel. Maison MRKT has the alliteration, and it mixes commerce and fashion.
Who was the first to sign on?
Orley, a luxury knitwear collection that’s part of the CFDA Fashion Incubator. We’re still working with them. It’s always been our goal to grow with our clients. We now have 15.
Do many clients have a desire to learn, or do they prefer to take a backseat?
Our clients have a great appreciation for the shift toward direct-to-consumer and e-commerce. While they defer to us as the experts, they all want to increase their fluency. That said, there are a lot of acronyms, lingo, and metrics that are pretty new, and many are unique to specific platforms. On some, there are no solid metrics, because they’ve only existed for a few months. We go through the exploratory experience together and help guide the way.
In terms of the lingo, do you find that you have to do a bit of hand-holding?
What’s differentiated our business is that we’re not sitting back and telling our clients, “Hey, if you do this, you’ll be successful.” More often than not, we integrate and run the campaign ourselves. A lot of the clients that we work with are not digital experts; they’re product and business people who are more focused on getting their collection to the market, so they look to us to steer the ship.
Why was the timing right to launch this kind of service?
There are lots of exciting things going on in Silicon Alley—that’s what people call the New York City tech scene. We realized that a lot of fashion businesses are driven by creative entrepreneurs who don’t necessarily have a skill set nor interest in data and technology. Because we come from a fashion background—Lexi has experience at Theory and on the men’s buying team at Scoop—it helps put a lot of our clients at ease. We admire their collection and understand it, much more so than statisticians or nerds who can’t tell one product from another. You also get to a certain point where you have to pick up the wheels and take off.
How do you interface with clients?
We speak with everyone, from the owners and the operators to e-commerce managers or in-house digital marketing point people. At least once a month, we go over a detailed e-commerce recap of the previous month; we’ll review the data and analytics, and identify points of opportunity.
How do you personify customers?
We ask clients to share all the demographic information they have about their target customers in a questionnaire. We then create personifications—the jet-setter, the bro, or the Upper East Sider—that allow us to segment our campaigns in a more refined way. At the midpoint of each campaign, we look at the sales data in the online shop and compare that with our projections. So sometimes clients think the core customer is a woman who’s 45 to 55 years old in Tribeca, but it turns out that it’s the recent college grad from Long Island.
It’s very nerdy, but we’re excited about what’s happening with data science. Now you can apply machine-learning techniques to your information and you can use that to make predictions. Essentially, we’re figuring out how to bring the worlds of data and fashion together. It’s an exciting challenge that presents a lot of opportunities. The fashion community is hungry for the data we’re bringing to the table. While the two might use different sides of the brain, a realization has occurred in fashion that this is the wave of the future.