Fashionistas are all aflutter with the news that Amazon UK recently launched a Virtual Try-On service. People are already buzzing about the possibilities of the perk. This technology allows every customer to see how a pair of sunglasses will look on their face before they buy. And Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez’s Hawkers shades are one of the first beloved brands the stylish will be able to “try on.”
While VTO is still in its earliest phases, the test market and trial period will give the team valuable insight into the product. Eventually, they’ll roll out VTO for a variety of accessories and clothing.
It’s no surprise the team chose an accessory like sunglasses as their first venture. When everyone’s face is a different size and shape, the margin of error can stop people from even attempting the purchase in the first place. VTO makes 1,500 brands from reputable suppliers — including Hawkers — available to customers.
Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez, Hawkers’ president, was excited about this new development, particularly when his fashion empire is driven largely by online sales.
“We were selling about 90% of our sunglasses online in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck,” Betancourt explains. “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.”
Click, Try, and Share
It’s a breeze to use the Virtual Try-On service at amazon.co.uk/virtualtryon. All products will have a Virtual Try-On button that customers can click on to more fully explore a product. From there, they simply point the camera at their face to check out how the shades will look from different angles. If they’re still not sure about whether the accessories are right for them, they can take pictures on the Amazon app and then share with friends and loved ones on social media.
“We’re thrilled to be introducing another innovative feature for our Amazon fashion customers,”
said Ruth Diaz, VP 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.”
Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez Innovates at Hawkers
The VTO technology may not be available through the Hawkers website — yet — but it’s aligned with the history of the brand. The team at Hawkers has always looked ahead rather than back to stay relevant to their customers.
This overarching attitude is, in large part, due to its leadership team. As president, Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez is known for his instinct and foresight. When he was first brought to the company as an adviser and investor, the founders were struggling with their business model. The demand for their fashionable and affordable sunglasses already existed, but they were wasting resources to fulfill all the orders. Across departments, there were inefficiencies that Betancourt was expected to fix.
He came in with guns a-blazing. “We needed to expand quickly to ensure we could produce sunglasses at a cost that would allow us to remain competitive,” Betancourt recalls. “We already had competitors in our local market, so we needed to find a business model to help us succeed. The primary challenges at this point were the unusually high barriers to entry, both in terms of manufacturing cost and product quality.”
Hawkers has long embraced the market shifts that stem from changing customer preferences. One of the major perks of being a part of a small business is that leaders have more freedom to make daring pivots. It’s a benefit that Betancourt was happy to take advantage of, making Hawkers a truly exciting place to work.
One of the first decisions Betancourt made was to pivot the marketing strategy of the company. He saw that younger people — particularly college students — took a strong interest in the fashions available from Hawkers. Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez realized that they were the best possible brand ambassadors, and that influencer reviews would be more trustworthy than standard advertising.
He also made a strong push for better customer service, which, when applied specifically to the brand, came down to transparency. Because so many of the products had to move from one part of the world to the other, the customer service team at Hawkers became more proactive about supply chain delays. Paying customers may not want to hear that a snag has occurred, but they’re usually more receptive when they don’t have to chase down a rep for an answer.
“If I had to do this over again, I would advise my younger self to immediately implement customer service policies that were more transparent,”
“Today, we notify customers right away whenever there’s a problem with their order, no matter what stage that order is in. This wasn’t always the case, but making the change has resulted in greater customer loyalty and goodwill.”
Hawkers On the Move
There are so many lessons for small businesses to learn from the story of Hawkers. The four founders would stop at nothing to ensure the survival of their brand, which is why they reached out for assistance in the first place. They found an investor who could immediately internalize their brand values. As Betancourt saw it, this was a modern fashion brand catering to everyday young people who wanted to look their best.
Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez knows that as the company continues its upward trajectory, both in terms of influence and scope, it won’t be as easy to make major organizational changes. However, this hasn’t stopped him from moving forward at every possible opportunity. For instance, the company has already pivoted toward selling more sustainable products. This eco-friendly focus has little to do with jumping on the bandwagon for the sake of profit and everything to do with Hawkers’ impact on the planet.
His tactics seem to be working, particularly as they pertain to the latest available technology. Whether at a ski chalet or on a campus, Hawkers can be found in every corner of the globe. The Virtual Try-On Service from Amazon UK is just one more reason for customers to choose Hawkers. Now, they won’t have to worry about returning a pair of sunglasses if they’re not suitable for their face. They can avoid the hassle, which only gives them a better impression of both companies.
And with Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez taking the lead, Hawkers will continue to innovate and disrupt the sunglasses sector.
“My goal as an entrepreneur is also to continue learning about new marketing techniques, which helps me achieve a willing attitude and remain humble,”
“I take advantage of learning opportunities from online sources, trade publications, and networking events whenever I can.”