Make Studios invests in SaaS startup Luxlock to give luxury retail salespeople tools to sell online as well as they do IRL.
The luxury retail industry faced a rough time during the pandemic. 90% of luxury sales occur in-store with a salesperson. But consumers are now shopping alone online, resulting in only 2% conversion rates and 35% return rates. This hit the industry’s sales talent especially hard.
“When COVID-19 canceled 20-year careers and supercharged ecommerce, personal stylists from LA to Milan had to adapt. An entire commission-based workforce was left analog and incomeless,” explains Casey Golden, Founder and CEO of Luxlock.
She’s been obsessed with bridging the digital divide between personal shoppers and the luxury shopping experience since 2008. During the recession, she helped budget-constrained customers work the wardrobe they already had, resulting in lots of referrals to their friends. But this outlier success left her, “overwhelmed with guilt being praised for a 32% sales increase while my colleagues were losing their homes.”
Casey has amazing founder-market-fit. She worked her way from being a store manager at Abercrombie & Fitch, managing over 300 employees, to a buyer and luxury salesperson at Marios (a men’s and women’s specialty store line with over 50 years of stellar service) before stepping up to lead luxury sales in the Americas for Ralph Lauren. She saw not only how technology was disrupting online commerce, but also how it also could deliver transformative solutions. She co-founded an on-demand live-styling DTC startup. But, the concept proved to be ahead of its time in 2011.
“I left fashion after my first failed start-up and moved into enterprise retail tech.” Casey held a number of enterprise sales leadership roles learning supply chain ERPs, virtual showrooms, and digital strategy working with brands like VF Corp. (Supreme, Vans, The North Face) and C.O. Bigelow. But you know how founders are, entrepreneurship is in their DNA, so Casey once again left the security of corporate employment, sold her “fancy clothes”, and embarked upon a new startup. This time around, determined to find a product well-timed with the market, she took time to identify the right opportunity. “I sat in luxury brand offices working for free for months to find the magic.”
It was the fragmented, broken world of online retail sales that inspired Casey to dream up Luxlock, a retail experience platform that gives salespeople software-based tools, starting with grouped product recommendations in live chat, to elevate and personalize the online shopping experience. The market is huge — $1.2T in annual luxury sales — and get this, only ~5% of annual transactions are made online. That number is expected to grow to 50% by 2025. The timing seems to be working — Luxlock has signed over 50 brands in the past year, and it’s worth noting that it’s one of the worst times in retail history (second only to the 2007-08 recession).
But here’s where Casey’s vision for Luxlock goes to the next level. In addition to offering SaaS-based digital sales enablement tools to retailers, Luxlock also brings access to a workforce of hundreds of personal shoppers and retail associates. This is huge because skilled retail talent employment has fallen by more than 50% and 190,000 retail stores may never reopen.
“We’re reskilling and have digitized the best sales channel in retail: people.”
As Casey puts it, “we’re reskilling and have digitized the best sales channel in retail: people.” Luxlock is also experimenting with luxury NFT launch packages, a natural experience layer between the physical and digital world. And — without giving away too much — I’ll say that this is all just the beginning. 😎
We at Make Studios are thrilled to invest in Luxlock and support Casey and the team to realize this ambitious vision to modernize luxury retail and bring opportunity to millions of displaced workers. We love founders with deep domain expertise who are obsessed with solving big problems, and that most definitely describes Casey. I’m inspired by her hustle and ability to recruit smart people around her, and I’m excited for the bright and luxurious future of Luxlock.
Make Studios is a venture studio that partners with idea-stage founders to build scalable tech startups. Leveraging a 15-person team that thrives on execution, we take companies from idea to customer revenue in 6 months or less.
If you’re a pre-product founder and software is core to your business, apply today so we can explore working together. Let’s build!