The theme of this year’s NFTParis was ‘exploring the future of creativity.’ Across the convention, a special focus was given to both NFT art, fashion and e-commerce. One of the leading lights combining the latter two areas is French blockchain start-up Clos3t, which is well on its way to demonstrating one of the most compelling use cases yet seen for blockchain technology in e-commerce and fashion.
Some of the Clos3t team were present at the Venly booth on Friday to give a demonstration of their NFT-powered client engagement platform. We managed to sit down with Amandine Degotte, CEO and co-founder, to discuss how Clos3t’s use of blockchain wallets and NFTs will upend the fashion industry as we know it.
A business school graduate and alumni of the French Institute of Fashion, Amandine spent seven years at Dior, starting in retail and eventually working her way up to digital client engagement.
“My job was to design the perfect journey for the client,” she recalls. “I loved it. Digital didn’t exist at the time. Marketing was only about events - fashion shows.”
Her work incorporating the latest technology into the venerable fashion house’s client engagement got her noticed. She worked in partnership with the LVMH Group to develop client portfolios apps for Dior and, later, Chanel.
“It was really cool,” she tells me. “We installed connected mirrors in the boutique, so when you do the fittings you can see all the information. You can order, you can share with your friends, you can book an appointment. Everything was tracked on your app.”
In need of innovation
Eventually, however, she realized there were gaps in the way the major brands conducted client engagement.
“It takes a lot of time and people to personalize the relationship [with clients],” she says. “coordination is a nightmare.”
That meant that, constrained by limited resources, marketing departments could only provide a small section of their client base with the full customer experience. Naturally, that led to targeting only the biggest spenders. In addition, while client engagement efforts were strong throughout the sales process, there was little follow-up.
“If I go to a Chanel store to purchase €1,500 boots, I will have an amazing experience. The bill comes in a nice envelope, you have champagne, somebody walks you out of the store. But once you leave, nothing. You just receive an email a few days after. It’s exactly the same experience as if you go to Monoprix.”
“So I was a bit obsessed with client engagement and I said, ‘Okay, we need to do something about the experience.’”
NFTs & client engagement
“I discovered blockchain in 2020, because of an NFT project, and I realized I was touching something which was going to revolutionize the relationship between brands and their clients.”
The Clos3t platform is built on the back of an NFT wallet with custom features specialized for the fashion industry. In searching for a company to supply the wallet API, Amandine knew that the priority would be simplicity and ease of use. Fashion and tech enthusiasts are not traditionally the most overlapping demographics. Complicated set-up processes and overwhelming security management would only serve to alienate Clos3t’s audience.
Making use of Venly’s Wallet API addressed these concerns, allowing the Clos3t team to build a product that was powerful and secure while maintaining ease of access and use. Even better, the Wallet API is a totally white-label product, meaning that it blends seamlessly into Clos3t’s branding aesthetic, amplifying the company’s impact.
The benefits of blockchain for e-commerce
Asked what exactly about blockchain technology is so groundbreaking for brands, Amandine points to several factors.
“The first thing is personalization. If you want to build loyalty, it has to be personalized. It’s what makes you feel recognized and valued by the brand. Clients expect it, and that’s now NFTs can be super useful - to build more loyalty and more long-term clients.”
“In the wallet, we also have a messaging feature, which is one of the best features. It’s less intrusive than WhatsApp, it’s less polluted than email. It really gets a lot of attention from the client because it's something new. It’s surprising, it’s innovative and it’s only dedicated to fashion and luxury.”
Brands are always looking to gather more information about their clients, to build what’s known as a ‘360 profile’. That allows them to customize every aspect of their service to the individual needs of each client, from recommendations and offers, to in-store experience, to follow-up communication.
“One of our main strengths is new data enriching the original client 360 profile - new behaviours you can track.”
Optimization and automation
In the traditional model, “you would have to ask the client advisor to do it because they are the ones in conversation with the client. [But] it’s hard for them to manage a lot of client services with their clients. It’s not their job, normally. It takes a lot of time. Marketing directors would love to be able to have data tracking that is optimized but still personalized. That’s the challenge.”
But, for the first time, NFTs “enable personalization at scale.”
“You can distribute [NFTs] automatically to any client without involving the sales associates in the store. You can offer something truly special. It’s unique, it’s exclusive, it’s a real product.”
Even though the company has only just launched its minimum viable product, the signs are positive.
“There are seven of us in the company. We’ve completed first pre-seed fundraising with two tier-one VCs. We’ve rolled out our MVP. We’ve built a connection with Salesforce. We’re already working with four brands.”
Their efforts are attracting attention in an industry traditionally among the most conservative when it comes to innovation.
“Before I left Chanel, I went to the president and told him that we needed to do something about blockchain.” The response was hesitation. “So I decided to do it myself. Then, when I reached out to them later to say ‘I’ve built this amazing stuff, do you want to test it?’ they were super interested.”
“They’re not going to move everything tomorrow onto the blockchain. We try to reassure them that it’s not about changing everything. It’s more about enriching what you already have.”
The future of digital fashion
Asked where she saw the fashion industry moving in the next few years, Amandine described a little of her idea of digital fashion.
“[The fashion industry] is used to helping people express themselves through fabric. I think they’re going to do the same with pixels. It’s the continuity of identity. It can be on screens or in real life, people still want to be a bit special, a bit different, and to express themselves.”
“When you speak [to brands] about NFTs for loyalty, it’s still very new. When you say you’re going to dress someone, but with pixels, they completely get it.”
“From an artistic and creative point of view, I think it’s super interesting for them. So I think it’s going to be the first step and progressively it will really become part of the business, with CRM and everything.”