Design Feels: The Incu Story | #105

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Incu CEO, Douglas Low, shares how they translate Incu’s unique design culture and physical store styling to the online experience.

EP 105
Hosted by

Nathan Bush is a director at eCommerce talent agency, eSuite. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.


Douglas has been lucky enough to have an organic trajectory within his career and has been in retail since he started University in 2000. He has had a range of roles within fashion from store management to wholesaling brands to finally ending up in Senior Management and has been with Incu approaching 17 years.

You can contact Douglas at LinkedIn

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Douglas Low from fashion brand Incu. Douglas began on the shop floor 17 years ago and is now CEO of the company, which has 13 physical stores, retailing high end fashion brands as well as operating brands such as Rag & Bone, A.P.C and Saturday’s Doors.  In this episode, you are going to hear how Covid has accelerated Incu’s online business to now account for over 20% of sales, how Doug and his team hire the right people to deliver the Incu experience and how design and beauty lies at the heart of everything that they do. 

You can have the best product, the best system, all the gadgets in the world.  It’s the people that unlock everything.”

Douglas Low

Questions answered in this episode include
  • How do you translate Incu’s unique design culture and physical store styling to the online experience? 
  • How do you use the Wechat platform to facilitate sales?
  • Which retailers inspire you?

People power

“You could have the best fit out. You could have the best product, the best system. You could have all the gadgets in the world. I think it’s people that unlock everything. 

So, we do mystery shopping. We do it slightly different to other businesses because we just run it ourselves. And it’s a formula that we’ve got. And what we do is we reach out to contacts that we know or we know that shop within our network. And we usually send them in.  And it’s interesting, the people that have got the best results of those things that you just couldn’t teach to our staff. 

So, one of them I remember, she came in with her five-year-old kid. She knew from the onset, she was like, “This is going to be a horrible experience, but I don’t ever go into the city. And so, I’m in the city, I’ve got to do it now. Otherwise, I’m not going to do it for a month.” Her kid was in a horrible mood, but she decided to do it anyway and she walked in.

And we have a staff member there, Charlie, who is great with kids. And she wasn’t motivated by the fact that she was trying to get someone to buy something. She just genuinely loves interacting with kids. So, she ended up playing with her kid while her mom got to shop. And because of that, she basically got a 100% for the mystery shop.”

Design thread

“It’s really interesting, especially from the eCommerce perspective. We talk to a lot of people and they’ll often say, “What’s your demographic?” And they’re expecting the typical GA breakup, the age group between this, the interest groups of this. It’s not typically how we look at our customers.

The common thread that ties everything together is that they appreciate good design. And that doesn’t matter whether you are a 16-year-old kid or whether you’re 66 and everything in between, you appreciate those design elements. It’s why you go to particular restaurants, it’s why you shop with us, it’s why you buy particular garments. It’s just a common thread through everything.”

300% growth and ship from store in 11 days!

“So, online has been going for about 10 years. It’s just been every time we’ve looked at online versus brick and mortar, we know brick and mortar so well. So, when we invest in the business, we know how to forecast what the results are, all that kind of stuff. Digital and COVID, obviously, was terrible for everyone, but there have been some silver linings within there.

So, going through it, I think, also because it was COVID, everyone’s appetite for risk was so high. It was just like, we’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure that wheels keep turning in the business. So, yeah, in answer to your question in terms of what’s been the challenging things over that period, I think, yeah, it’s operationally how to run it but also the expectations. Because as you grow by 300%, there’s a lot more people with eyeballs on your business online.

The single biggest thing we did was that we did ship from store within 11 days. So, what happened during COVID is that all the stores were closed. And before that, we’re only shipping out of two stores because we were not able to fulfill customer expectations. So, what we did over COVID is we pulled all the stock back to the warehouse, and that’s essentially what enabled us to see part of that big growth.  

When we realized the stores were going to open, we were a little bit terrified because we didn’t know what to do. We obviously had to bring the stuff back into the stores. We engaged a great team and they helped us to ship from store in 11 days, and it was pretty phenomenal. I think we didn’t realize how quick that was going to be. But looking back on it and then talking to other people, our current head of digital said they were doing ship from store, I think, over the course of two years. So, if you look at it like that, it’s something that was a really great team effort and we’re really proud of. It obviously took a lot longer than 11 days to knock out all the issues. But the fact that we did it and we’re able to maintain sales was amazing.”

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