Re-inventing a brand and turning engagement into transactions with Fancy.com CEO, Greg Spillane

Using influencer, channel and email strategies to turn engagement into transactions

For some companies, there comes a point in time when a pivot is necessary in order to keep the business running. Greg Spillane has led that pivot at a number of companies, and most recently at Fancy.com.

Spillane, also known as “the turnaround guy” is the CEO of Fancy.com. When he came into the role, he was tasked with turning a growing brand into a profitable company. Having gone through this journey a few times before, Spillane knew a bit of what to expect. He also knew what not to do.

“What not to do is go in and start making changes too quickly,” Spillane said. “One of the easiest things in the world to do is be a critic. And you can go into a company that’s somewhat distressed or has had some issues, and you could just start just tearing things apart. … And even though you can quickly come up with the right direction and the right solution for what you need to do, you can lose your people. And ultimately, your people are the most important assets you have.”

Instead, Spillane said the best possible thing a new CEO or leader can do is just listen.

“Most of the issues that you’re going to eventually have to address, [employees] already know they exist and they know what they are,” Spillane said. “So let them tell you, and you’ll start to pull out the solutions. Then when you have to make those really difficult changes that impact people’s lives and careers and whatever it may be, the people that you need and people that you keep are on board because they see the rationale and they understand it.”

So what were those changes at Fancy? And how is the company doing now?

One of the biggest things Spillane had to do was get excess spending under control. Gone were the days of giving away $1,000 gift cards or hosting extravagant parties with celebrities, models, and influencers. Instead, the focus shifted toward profitability and engaging the audience by leveraging the proprietary technology platform that Fancy had under the hood.

Throughout the years, the team at Fancy built a mobile app that has approximately 2.7 million active users. And the Fancy.com domain name generates huge amounts of organic traffic. All told, Fancy has seen more than 12 million accounts created, and the company works with more than 800 merchants and ships to 135 countries. That is a significant data set to work from, and Spillane believes that if used correctly, Fancy could rise to compete against Amazon.

At its core, Fancy is a marketplace and discovery platform that shoppers go to when they want to find unique products from purpose-driven brands delivered via highly-curated collections.

Spillane said that at Fancy, he is trying to leverage influencer marketing, but in a much different way than most other companies.

“The traditional influencer model of, ‘Hey, let me find a micro-influencer. Let me pay him X amount of money, depending on their size. And let me have them do a post talking about our product or driving people to our site,’ the experience that we’ve had ourselves and then with brands that we’ve worked with is, you’re really not going to get an ROI there,” Spillane said. “So we’re looking at it a little bit differently. We want to create more of a platform that influencers can leverage and become a little bit more native in what they’re doing that helps them expand their own reach, expand the value to their user base. And then ultimately monetize that user base, because that’s really what the influencers, especially micro-influencers are looking to do. But it has to be done somewhat organically.”

“Fancy.com and then our mobile experience for that is a little bit more of a traditional commerce-based experience,” Spillane said. “You go to it, you have categories, you search and find the things you like, and hopefully you transact. We look at mobile as much more of a stickier, joyous engagement where you just want people to open it up similar to how we open up Instagram 25 times a day. Nobody opens Instagram because you want to buy anything. You’re just opening it up because there are cool images and there are things that you’re going to discover. And it’s going to bring a little moment of joy in our lives. That’s a lot of how the experience with the Fancy app has been created. Our thought is that people will discover things and they’ll find things and they’ll like things and personalization will happen through our mobile app and then in many cases, they’ll end up going to the web to transact.”

Spillane hopes to keep growing that engaged audience, and has a lot of ideas that they will be putting into practice soon that he believes will drive more conversions, while increasing high intent engagement.

To hear about that and more, check out his full interview on Up Next in Commerce.

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