Conversation with Talin Vartevanian

The conversation was realized as part of Dr. Nadzeya Sabatini‘s course Conversations with Industry Experts offered by USI – Università della Svizzera italiana and Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne’s Master Program in Digital Fashion Communication.

The article was written by Chiara Podini, Elisa Da Re, Karina Caraghiulea, Mariam El Hayek, Miray Gürsoy, Tess Stenzel – Master’s students in Digital Fashion Communication and edited by Alice Noris – PhD student and Teaching Assistant.

Biography – Talin Vartevanian is a senior manager with a vast experience in leading eCommerce teams. After a successful career in riding horses, Talin joined her brother in managing his motorbike business. During her seven years at the company, working in the clothing section, she led the development and the creation of the online shop also through the help of a customer who was at the forefront in terms of e-commerce experience in the 90s. Soon she became passionate about the world of coding, she taught herself web design and also attended night school to learn HTML programming. This life-experience taught her that in order to succeed you need to be passionate, to carry on, never give up, and apply yourself by doing the best you can in every situation. This kind of mind-set helped her manage eCommerce platforms from the beginning to the end of the process. This meant for her being able to have a full understanding of her work environment by choosing the product, taking the picture, putting them online, writing the content, managing the shipping and doing all the customer service. Through her work experience Talin realized that one of the most important aspects related to eCommerce to keep into account is to offer to the clients an amazing customer service. 

After this insightful and enriching experience, Talin was asked by other brands to help them optimize and re-launch their eCommerce platforms. These opportunities contributed to enhance her knowledge in the field, helping her to further improve her skills in managing websites that, if not well designed, could crash due to a large amount of traffic and visitors. Her achievements led her to have a brilliant career spanning companies such as VF International, a corporation that owns over 30 brands, to Aldo Shoes, where she managed their European websites. From June 2019, Talin joined Fossil where she is taking care of the O&O eCommerce platform and key Digital Accounts such as Amazon and Zalando.

The eCommerce World – User experience is crucial for Talin and her team when it comes to work on eCommerce platforms. According to her experience customers look for relevance and personalization, therefore for a company it is important to get a full understanding of the consumer behavior by analyzing different markets and needs. Talin shared with the students that working on localization has been very useful for her in order to better improve the website by offering to the customers accurate translations, local payment methods, local hero shipping options and by adapting the merchandising preferences among different countries. Localization within the marketing environment is a useful tool to present and advertise different items depending on the location and a helpful strategy to be implemented in order to offer a greater omnichannel experience for the users. She stated that one of her main challenges and goals while working on eCommerce platforms is to always make sure that customers will come back. In terms of different types of objects to be sold online, Talin explained that items that require a size are more difficult to manage within the eCommerce platforms, because the possibility of returns is increased. Furthermore, she underlined how reviews can play a major role in improving online sales of clothes, and therefore, it is important to be able to create a seamless shopping experience, offering the customer as much information and details as possible, simplifying their purchasing experience. In turn creating a happy customer, good reviews, and an easy experience. According to her experience customers are looking for authenticity and one of the main challenges nowadays for eCommerce platforms is to properly communicate brand content; storytelling, in this sense, plays a major role and also through captivating use of newsletters it can serve as a way to better engage with different audiences and keep customers up-to-date on news. Furthermore, she added that the use of analytics and user testing are helpful for her and her team to keep track and manage which resources and tools contribute to the achievement of maximum profits. 

The most interesting part of Ecommerce job  – During the conversation Talin stated that she considers herself as a very customer focused person and her main aim while working is making sure that she is giving to the customers the best possible experience. She explained, that the first thing she does in the morning is to check the data and examine the analytics of the previous day, in order to be more focused on what can be improved and the daily goals of her team. While doing her job in the day-to-day business operations Talin underlined how much is important for her to always keep a customer centric viewpoint.

Online traffic during the Pandemic – Talin also predicted, that due to the current Covid19 situation there online traffic will continue to be strong – since customers do not still feel fully comfortable in entering the stores. She also stated that for her company during the pandemic shutting down the production and their sites has never been an option because the demand has always been present. Fossil’s strategy was to be always present and active for its customers, at least online. Despite the lockdown and the difficult situation, the pandemic demonstrated to fashion companies that the future of eCommerce is bright and customers still have a high demand to purchase items online. 

Working in the eCommerce domain – According to Talin, to be successful in the eCommerce domain, it is important to have an analytic mindset and a forward thinking mind in order to constantly optimize the customer experience. Within the online environment it is important to know that bugs, that might occur, require by the team a quick and organized reaction in order to timely solve the problem. Besides time management and prioritizing tasks, within the eCommerce team it is required to have a good eye for the visual aspects of the website. The eCommerce domain requires general technical skills as well as soft skills and a strong level of collaboration among the different departments in order to succeed, as in any other job, Talin explained that being approachable and collaborative with colleagues is crucial.

Additional Links: The conversation with Talin Vartevanian helped the DFC students to think about further connections concerning the choices that need to be made to create an engaging eCommerce experience. Here some educational insights that students shared on the topics that Talin presented: