Dillard's Home Wares
Sell 5x Faster with
Red Clay Designs
Marco Gallagos WINNING DESIGNER
Since its founding in 1939, Dillard’s department store has been known for its fine clothing and homewares, particularly among women ages 35 and older. In recent years, however, Dillard’s has successfully attracted 20-something Millennial women by expanding their fashion offerings to include younger, hipper clothing collections.
Betsy Parkinson, a creative director at Dillards, saw this influx of younger shoppers as a huge opportunity for growth across the store. Millennial women regularly returned to Dillard’s each season to buy new clothing, but barely knew the store had a home department. The only time these women visited homewares was to set up their wedding registries. Drawing these young women across the store, and keeping them interested beyond big, special occasions, could be a huge boon for the company on the whole.
Parkinson wanted to test her hypothesis by launching a more modern, spring tabletop collection on the Dillard’s private label targeting Millennial women. The problem was, she couldn’t afford to divert her existing in-house design staff away from reliably profitable, classic tablewares in order to develop a small, experimental collection.
Her usual vendors were great at designing for Dillard’s traditional customers, but didn’t know Millennials well enough to take on this task. And she definitely didn’t have the time or budget to source and hire freelance designers on her own.
The designs were so popular that they sold out 5 times faster than the store's other collections.
On the suggestion of the company Vice President Bill Dillard III, Parkinson decided to create her new product line on the Red Clay platform. Since Dillard’s hadn’t created a homewares line for 20-something women before, she couldn’t be certain what would resonate with this audience; she hoped to receive dozen-or-so initial concepts which she could use for a social media and email voting campaign, empowering younger Dillard’s shoppers to weigh in on the new collection. And although she usually shied away from working with freelancers due to the management involved, she felt confident that the platform could keep her project streamlined and on-time.
Within 10 days, Parkinson received over 150 new design concepts from 60 designers around the world. The platform made it easy to browse through concepts, and the quality of the designs made it hard to pick just a dozen designs. She eventually chose 28 contenders for her social media and email voting campaign.
Votes poured in over the 2-week voting period. Nearly 5,000 Dillard’s guests weighed in, ultimately selecting 2 collections comprised of 12 exclusive SKUs — twice as many collections and SKUs as Parkinson expected to buy when she started the project. Red Clay also saved Parkinson an enormous amount of time; managing the project only required a few hours, not a few weeks. Overall, the full design process — including her voting campaign — only took less than 2 months.
Being able to share a large selection of beautiful, fresh designs with the next generation of Dillard’s shoppers was a great way to increase engagement. “Tapping into Red Clay’s community of designers enables our guests around the country to be the first to co-create those fresh and bold designs,” said Parkinson. It also proved to be a brilliant business decision. The designs were so popular that they sold out 5 times faster than the store’s other collections.
Parkinson went on to run two additional homewares projects on Red Clay that year, creating products targeting Millennials. She spent less time and money developing these products than she would with other freelancers, and continued seeing high sell-through rates when they went to market.
UnaliWear had an unusual request for a tech company: design a smart watch that your grandma would understand how to use, and actually wear.
The Beloved Brand
Dillard's department store saw a huge opportunity for growth in homewares for Millennial shoppers, but needed fresh, new designs to win them over.
The Online Innovator
Moving away from flash sales of hard-to-find designer home goods, the online retailer launched an initiative to design its own private collections.
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