Sophistication. Innovation. Dedication. These are the signifiers of 124 Shoes and Altea, two fashion retailers devoted to elegant and high quality garments.
With both businesses informed by decades of experience creating beautiful pieces, the team behind the scenes has to ensure that their operational excellence matches their exquisite garments.
Quarterbacking this initiative is Luke Colaianni, who is tasked with running and modernising the operations of both businesses.
You may ask, “What retailer doesn’t want that?” While achieving operational harmony and revenue growth is the north star for every retailer, it’s a complicated endeavour for just one business. So how did Luke and the team manage to achieve this for two businesses?
The answer lies in the ideals that define both 124 Shoes and Altea; sophistication, innovation and dedication.
Maintaining a brand of excellence
With two brands steeped in an air of brilliance, the team can’t afford to drop the ball on any front.
Luke’s mission statement is to ensure things run smoothly. From his perspective, when things go wrong they can quickly domino into problems for customers, staff and suppliers alike.
“Once there’s hiccups, there’s always a domino effect, there’s something else that can go wrong,” he reflects. When you’re steering two ships, Luke’s sentiment may be an understatement.
To ensure smooth sailing, one of Luke’s priorities is to simplify internal processes. For him, keeping things straightforward is important so other team members can pick things up and crucial tasks aren’t dependent on one person.
Luke is always looking for ways to make training more efficient so staff don’t get flustered and can focus on things that matter.
“If I can simplify that in any way possible, it makes it a little bit easier. So that’s a big one. You don’t want too many words running through people’s heads in certain situations. It might get them flustered.”
“It’s a domino effect.”
Luke believes that a foolproof process is what unites a team and ultimately helps a business succeed.
“A little checklist is pivotal. It doesn’t matter how old we get or how long you’ve been doing it, there’s always something new and something that you haven’t done. No matter where you go.”
It’s a solid business philosophy, one that removes unorganised chaos and instead enables his teams to bring out their best.
A premium brand has to deliver superior customer and employee experience
There’s a need for everyone on every level of the business to be reading from the same script. 124 Shoes and Altea are premium brands, and this needs to be reflected in how they run their business behind the scenes.
Making the customer feel at home is ultimately the number one focus for both businesses. Even for people who don’t purchase, Luke maintains that the brand philosophy needs to be consistently communicated from the online store to the shop floor.
“You give every customer or even the person not purchasing every bit of information you can and make them feel as welcome as possible so it feels like they’ve shopped there 1,000 times, even if they’ve only just walked in once.”
This dedicated approach to customer experience is informed by employee experience, something that has to also be excellent to deliver to Luke’s standard. It results in a delicate balance of customer and employee experience that constantly informs the other–permeating every facet of the business and influencing every decision for both businesses’ growth.
“It’s a big team effort.”
“From the outside, we try to make people understand that what we’re trying to provide to people is a ridiculously high standard, whether it’s in product or services.”
“From customer facing roles to the deepest parts of the back end–you try to give the best experience. And then you pass it on. It’s that positive domino effect.”
So what’s the key to keeping both businesses operating at such a high level? Altea and 124 Shoes operate as a supportive family unit. According to Luke, they’ve managed to foster a culture where there’s no cut-throat competition–they’re all in it together and lift each other up.
“The beautiful thing is, they’re both very family orientated.”
“Everyone knows everything about everyone. We’re all very passionate in what we do. And there’s no competition which can be quite toxic, especially in retail.”
Weaving excellence into every fibre of the business
Juggling two businesses in fashion retail is no simple feat. But Luke and the team have dedicated themselves to their creed of excellence, taking great care to ensure it informs their culture and approach to every opportunity.
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