On Tuesday, global luxury online marketplace Farfetch announced that it had signed a deal with Condé Nast for an exclusive content and commerce partnership that will result in an editorialized shopping experience, starting with Condé Nast’s American Vogue and GQ properties, that links items featured in content to Farfetch’s website.
–Farfetch is gunning after Net-a-Porter, the luxury e-commerce store that has a robust in-house content-and-commerce strategy in the form of its shoppable quarterly print magazine, Porter, and its online content site, The Edit.
–Farfetch and Net-a-Porter are the frontrunners in the global race to build the biggest technology-backed luxury online marketplace. Other contenders include Moda Operandi, MyTheresa.com and LVMH’s new e-commerce site, 24 Sèvres. (With the new Farfetch and Condé Nast deal, Condé’s e-commerce experiment, Style.com, is effectually terminated.)
–Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet, it should be noted, joined the Farfetch board of executives in 2016, after leaving Net-a-Porter following its merger with Italian offseason retailer Yoox.
The big numbers
–Yoox Net-a-Porter Group: $2.1 billion in revenue in 2016, a jump of 18 percent year over year.
–Farfetch: $305 million in six rounds of funding; $800 million in gross sales in 2016, a jump of 70 percent from the year prior (internal figures, covers overall company growth); a projected $1.5 billion valuation ahead of its IPO. (A recent report by U.K.’s Sky News suggests that number is much higher, at $5 billion.)
–In terms of sheer visitor volume, Farfetch surpassed Net-a-Porter in 2015 to become the highest-trafficked global luxury e-commerce site.
Farfetch and Net-a-Porter’s traffic rankings, via data analytics firm Alexa
–Under the Yoox Net-a-Porter umbrella is Yoox, Net-a-Porter and The Outnet, a multi-brand offseason e-commerce site for marked-down designer fashion. The offseason business, which includes The Outnet and Yoox, accounts for 38 percent of overall revenue, while Net-a-Porter’s in-season online shop pulls in the remaining 62 percent.
–Since 2012, Yoox Net-a-Porter has operated the online stores of 38 designer brands, including Isabel Marant, Chloé and Lanvin. In 2016, the revenue of these combined online sites grew by 24 percent.
–The Group’s content properties include its in-house quarterly magazine, Porter, and its online style blog, The Edit.
–Farfetch’s other owned property is Browns, a London-based boutique it acquired in 2015 as a way to test first-hand the cross-channel developments it planned to roll out to its other boutique partners.
–In 2016, Farfetch launched Farfetch Black & White, its back-end solution for powering the operations of brands’ and boutiques’ online stores. So far, seven brands have signed on to use Farfetch’s technology, including Thomas Maier and Manolo Blahnik. Slow growth for that solution implies that Yoox Net-a-Porter has a stronghold on the market.
–This year, Farfetch announced its Store of the Future technology platform, which plans to act as a solution for brands and boutiques looking to update their physical stores with data collecting and customer recognition technology, among other cross-channel tools.
Net-a-Porter’s EIP (or Extremely Important People) program caters to its highest spenders of $70,000-plus a year, through offerings like personalized customer service (through WhatsApp is some countries), free and same-day shipping, private sales and early access to product drops.
Farfetch’s most valuable clients can spend quite a bit less than Net-a-Porter’s EIPS, at $10,000-plus a year. That gets them private styling sessions and free concierge service for deliveries. With Store of the Future, Farfetch is also testing 90-minute shipping through a partnership for Gucci in 10 cities, open to all customers.
The final word on content strategy
Stephanie Phair, Farfetch’s chief strategy officer: “We are in the luxury fashion space, and luxury fashion requires editorial. It inspires, it educates, it tells a story. As much as Farfetch has scalability and speed, and everything else you associate with a tech company, we are believers that luxury has to have storytelling, so editorial is absolutely a component of what we feel we need to provide.”
Lucy Yeomans, Porter’s editor-in-chief, in a previous interview: “In traditional print magazines, it’s a tease. You flip through the pages of Vogue, see a bag you like and you’re unable to find it. It’s selling the customer, saying, ‘Sleep with me, sleep with me,’ and then — ‘Never mind.’”