Sure, online shopping is super convenient, but while that model may look like Timothée Chalamet in those cool shades, what if they make you look like the star of the Revenge of the Nerds reboot? No worries. Hawkers is teaming up with Amazon U.K. with its cutting-edge Virtual Try-On service, a new technology available on iOS devices at amazon. Amazon has chosen to feature certain brands on the experimental platform, so shoppers can see what a product will look like before they actually buy it.
Alejandro Betancourt Lopez, the president of Hawkers, has long embraced technology as a way of connecting with their target demographic, making this revolutionary advance right on brand. Internet sales make up “about 90% of our sunglasses online in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic struck,” says Betancourt. “Our strong online presence was an advantage because our sales weren’t significantly affected by the loss of physical sales that caused nonessential brick-and-mortar stores to struggle. As of 2020, we have sold over 4.5 million pairs of sunglasses in over 50 countries.”
VTO: Less Frustration, Fewer Returns
Trying to buy a pair of sunglasses online could be a non-starter for many people. They may say their head is too small or their cheeks too big to guess what the pair will look like in person. Much like trying to find the right pair of jeans, the whole concept might seem far too messy.
Amazon’s introduction of Virtual Try-On is a way to bypass at least some of the fears that stem from buying online. Shoppers can choose from 1,500 pairs of sunglasses, all from trusted companies. So, if a shopper wants to see how a pair of Hawkers would look on their face, it’s as simple as clicking the Virtual Try-On button and aiming the camera at their face.
The technology allows shoppers to experiment with different angles, so they feel entirely confident by the time they commit to buying. As Amazon gathers feedback from users, the developers have promised to fine-tune the service so it’s as accurate and reliable as it can possibly be. In time, they’ll offer it across the board (and not just for certain categories).
“We’re thrilled to be introducing another innovative feature for our Amazon fashion customers,” said Ruth Díaz, vice president of Amazon Fashion Europe. “Finding the perfect pair of sunglasses online that you will love and wear all year is now fun and easy with Virtual Try-On technology. We look forward to listening to our customers and brands enhancing the VTO experience with more product categories and styles to come.”
VTO doesn’t just cut down on frustration and returns; it also improves the reputation of both Amazon and the seller. As one of the few brands featured on the website, Hawkers is thrilled that it can give its customers another reason to trust its products.
Alejandro Betancourt Lopez’s Hawkers
Alejandro Betancourt Lopez built his reputation by being hands-on. His career has taken him all over the world, and he’s picked up a thing or two about how even the most promising of ideas can crash and burn. If he invests in a company, it’s because he’s seen something in the brand. If he’s asked to provide assistance, he’ll stop at nothing to help the enterprise find its footing.
When he first joined Hawkers, the brand already had a following. The founders were more interested in capitalizing on the interest without overspending. Even as revenue was rolling in, it was rolling out just as quickly to cover their many operational expenses. Betancourt didn’t have much time to fix these mistakes, which is why he homed in on a few key aspects of the business.
One of the most noteworthy decisions he made was to pivot the marketing department toward influencers. This strategy, widely used today, was less common in the mid-2010s. During this time, shoppers were more interested in what influencers had to say, particularly when those influencers were acquaintances or friends who had sincerely stumbled upon a great product.
Hawkers sunglasses are fun, fresh, and affordable. They look equally at home at a fancy cocktail party as they do strutting across campus from English 101 to Physics 211. Alejandro Betancourt decided that if his best customers were already advocating for the brand for free, they might as well formalize the process. By offering small incentives and free products, he was able to help the company go from a $300 investment to a $60 million brand in just two years.
Technology and fashion may not seem to have much in common on the surface, but both appeal to people on the edge of the latest trends. Both industries move quickly, with little to no compassion for those left behind. Betancourt took what he knew about both worlds, and used that to build Hawkers into a company that conserved resources without compromising the value of its products.
The Future, Lessons, and Ethos of Hawkers
While social media marketing may have been what Hawkers made news for, it was far from the only reason the company continued its epic rise. Alejandro Betancourt Lopez prioritized not only the influencer crowd but all brand customers. To that end, he pushed the company toward sustainability, so the team could be attractive to its socially aware audience.
He also advocated for more transparency, which helped both customers and the customer service team overcome supply chain snags. When small business owners consider the lessons of Hawkers, they should know that these policies didn’t just evolve without effort. Betancourt used his experience and instincts to switch things up, so the company could keep up with a target demographic moving at the speed of life.
“My success largely comes from my ability to identify trends that will transform markets and adapt to those trends,” says Betancourt. “These things are changing so fast that it’s essential to anticipate what they mean for consumers and markets.”
Hawkers is poised to make even bigger strides in Europe. This is, in large part, thanks to leaders who have their fingers on the pulse of their audience. The Virtual Try-On service is more than just a recent innovation from Amazon; it’s a testament to the brands that showcase their wares on the platform. Companies like Hawkers want to go the extra mile for a demographic that will notice the effort.