Retail in Asia had the pleasure to interview Adam Hershman, Vice President of TUMI Asia Pacific and Middle East.
Based in Hong Kong, Adam is responsible for building the brand in the region, as well as overseeing operations and overall business management throughout Asia Pacific and the Middle East.
Prior to this, Adam played a key role in developing TUMI Asia Pacific markets as General Manager Greater China, Asia Pacific Distribution and Travel Retail -a position he held since 2018. Adam holds a diverse background of international business experience, prior to joining TUMI, Adam held positions at Christian Dior Couture in New York and luxury travel retailer DFS Group in Hong Kong.
Adam spent over five years with DFS accumulating extensive Greater China and Asia experience in roles covering liquor, accessories, jewelry, watches, and perfumes categories.
RiA: How is TUMI coping with the Covid-19 crisis given its core business being travel accessories?
Adam: Last year significantly changed how we all travel, and by constantly evolving as a brand we were able to support our customers as their needs and circumstances changed too.
From a channel perspective, over the past few years, we have heavily invested in making sure that we are everywhere that our customers are. We expanded our omni channel capability with a focus on digital and also introduced O2O (online-to-offline and offline-to-online) systems to make sure that our customers have an easy transition between the offline and online TUMI spaces. This meant that, when the COVID-19 crisis hit and customers rapidly migrated to the digital environment, we were well positioned to cater to their needs.
On the product side, TUMI is known as a brand that has a strong travel heritage. However, for a long time, everyday bags have been a core part of our assortment. As our customer gave us permission to move into their everyday life, Victor Sanz, TUMI’s Creative Director, and the design team created bags to suit these every day needs including backpacks, rucksacks, slings, totes, briefs and more. Whether our customer is looking for a bag for their daily commute, a hike or a weekend getaway, we create high performing products to elevate all journeys and life on the move.
RiA: In terms of market priorities, we know at the moment each and every brand is focusing on Mainland China, how is TUMI addressing that market?
Adam: In Mainland China, we have been steadfast in growing the brands’ awareness and have adapted our communication styles and product offering in line with the Chinese customer, while remaining true to TUMI values.
Mainland China has a well developed digital ecosystem so when we built the business we developed it with a heavy emphasis on this channel. This direction did not change as the pandemic unfolded. We simply continued on this path and the digital channels we built worked well for us as consumers shifted even further away from physical touchpoints in mid-2020. China was and still is one of our key focus markets in Asia.
RiA: How about travel retail in destinations such as Hainan?
Adam: Travel retail is naturally a very important channel for us, with our roots being in travel. We have had a strong presence on Hainan for a number of years as we identified it as a destination that will continue to grow in popularity. This came to a particular focus over the past two years as the Chinese government increased its efforts to develop and promote the island.
In July 2020, with the pandemic in full flow elsewhere, the government raised the duty-free spending cap for travellers to Hainan, giving it another huge boost. With the closure of many international borders, Hainan has been a natural go-to destination for the domestic tourist. We were well prepared for this surge and Hainan will certainly remain a very important part of the market going forward.
RiA: Recently you have launched a virtual store, what are the main features aimed at retaining and attracting customers?
Adam: With this new store format we really wanted to bridge the gap between experiential and immersive experiences, and the current e-commerce approach. We wanted to create an environment that is as close as possible to the actual physical store experience – and make it better.
With the Virtual Store we combined a familiar, visual shopping interface that allows the store visitor to browse the products and collections in 3D with a full 360° view of the bags. We also implemented an AR function so that customers can place the selected bag in their own environment – their office or home – and experience it more viscerally. One of the challenges of digital shopping when it comes to bags is seeing what size they are in real life and this AR function takes care of that.
Going back to my earlier point about improving our O2O systems, we also have the chat and shop function which allows the customer to quickly connect to a TUMI associate to ask questions about a product or purchase.
Beyond the shopping experience, we wanted to add an entertainment factor for customers to have a bit fun whilst in the store. We created an Instagram and WeChat adventure game where customers can race through a forest or across the city on their vehicle collecting TUMI bags while avoiding obstacles along the way. We also created a Magic Mirror where customers can record a short video selfie that gets superimposed into the store environment. The video can be downloaded and shared with friends via social media.
What is great about the virtual store format, beyond convenience for the customer, is that we can continue to evolve and build on it, making the customer experience better and better as new technologies and creative solutions come into play.
RiA: In this difficult time, what allowed TUMI to remain resilient?
Adam: TUMI is an innovation-driven brand. We are always moving forward, learning, improving and pushing the boundaries – it is all part of our DNA. From our product to the customer experience, we are never standing still. This gives us the confidence that we can overcome challenges and has allowed us to stay positive, drive forward and evolve together with our customers even during tough times.
The critical factor in this is the people. We have some terrific people that make the brand what it is today. Folks globally at all levels of the organisation who are relentlessly focused on being creative, agile and moving TUMI forward, in step with the customer.
SEE ALSO : TUMI launches first virtual store
RiA: With the spotlight on topics such as sustainability, what are the initiatives that TUMI has maintained/launched?
Adam: Yes, it is a huge focus as it is our responsibility to preserve the planet we live on for future generations. Our focus on sustainability starts with design that migrates beyond a singular, seasonal function. TUMI products are built to last and built to repair – we design products that can be fixed easily and do not need to be replaced.
In terms of material technology, we introduced our first recycled capsule collection three years ago and it had a fantastic reception. Since then, we have been building on this offering and introducing more products throughout different collections and categories from backpacks, to slings and gym bags to hardside and softside luggage.
We are delighted to now offer TUMI bags made from recycled materials including post-industrial recycled nylon and post-consumer recycled water bottles across our Alpha Bravo, Devoe, V4 and Merge collections – and we will continue to add to our assortment. All our recycled materials have to undergo rigorous testing and meet TUMI’s exacting standards of durability and to achieve this has been a tremendous feat by Victor Sanz, TUMI’s Creative Director and his team.