Make conversions with Liberty’s digital commerce manager

Katie Hall is Head of Digital Commerce at Liberty. She has been with the luxury department store on Regent Street in London since 2013 as merchandising director specializing in the beauty and accessories categories, before taking on the additional role of digital commerce manager at the beginning of the year.

Katie Hall, Head of Digital Commerce and Merchandising Director of Liberty

Hall began her career in fashion retail 12 years ago, working as an allocator at Selfridges between 2010 and 2013. She leads a team of 30 people with four direct reports, and is responsible for ensure that Liberty converts as many visitors as possible into sales on its site, using the data to optimize the merchandising and navigation of the platform.

Liberty invested in a new analytics tool to better understand its customers’ online experience, as well as redesigned its e-commerce platform navigation, changed its taxonomy, updated its search functionality and improved attribution and product refinements. The department store has nearly tripled its business since 2019 and is on track to achieve its “biggest year ever in terms of revenue and profit”.

Hall and her husband live in Lewisham, south-east London, where she is running what she describes as a ‘carousel’ of builders, plumbers, carpenters, electriciansinspectors and decorators as she renovates her home.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

I’m a lark, so the alarm goes off at 6:20. It’s Radio 3 to me these days – the relentless political gloom of the Today program [on Radio 4] I don’t get off to a good start anymore. I generously apply Rich Cream by Augustinus Bader [moisturiser]grab a coffee and stroll through Blackheath for an hour.

Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream, retail from £135 at Liberty

What was your first job?

I worked for G4S as security guard at Wimbledon a summer, which should tell you everything about its business model. Federer won and Tournament miraculously avoided big Security incidents.

How did you start your fashion career?

I got a taste for the fashion business while working in a local store during the summer holidays in [the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, as a student of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American studies]. I loved seeing the new product arrive and betting on what would and wouldn’t sell.

I graduated a year after the financial crash of 2008, so finding a job was difficult. Unpaid internships were the norm at the time, and I was lucky enough to gain excellent buying and marketing experience at Fortnum & Mason and Selfridges, working evenings and weekends as a waitress for earn money.

Eventually I got a job as a dispatcher at Selfridges, and I’ve been working in retail ever since.

What’s your coffee order?

Cappuccino. In the pantheon of modern coffee orders, I appreciate that this is a very simple order.

What business factors keep you up at night?

That Covid has disrupted the retail industry is an obvious statement. How he recovers is less obvious. The stakes are higher and the margin for error is smaller. And yet, if you don’t change, you are left behind.

If you don’t take risks, you can’t change. You need to achieve short-term goals while protecting your longer-term strategy. You have to balance and meet often competing priorities. Resolving these tensions is both a fascinating challenge and an arduous task.

Where is your favorite place to shop?

Freedom, of course. But if I cheat Liberty, Borough Market and Maltby Street Market [both near London Bridge] For alimentation, and KemptoneBay and furniture auction house and antiques.

Last fashion purchase? Why did it catch your attention?

I bought an oversized striped shirt from Totême, it is perfectly cut.

Riviera Stripe Totême Signature Cotton Shirt

Emails or phone calls?

If I have to choose, it’s phone calls. But really nothing beats face to face.

The most important lesson you learned in your career?

That you never stop learning lessons.

What’s the last book you read?

Speak to me nicely one day by David Sedaris.

Who in the fashion/retail industry inspires you?

Sharmadean Reid, the founder of WAH Nails and Beautystack, gave a talk to our team at Liberty and she was truly inspiring – such a smart and impressive woman.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

At the risk of sounding like a rag of motivation: dDon’t be afraid to break the rules. Retail is changing so rapidly, and conventions become obsolete. If you don’t adapt, you are left behind.

Who do you turn to when you need advice and why?

My sister is a corporate psychologist and coach, so I’m trading her advice for my Liberty discount.


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