Farfetch has big ambitions for 2017.
Earlier this month, the e-commerce platform announced plans to reveal a forthcoming “Store of the Future” concept. Though there are few available details about the venture, Farfetch announced the shopping experience will operate as a suite of emerging technologies that leverages data to enhance efficiency, with a focus on personalization. Now, Natalie Massenet, the founder of Net-a-Porter, is reportedly in talks to ascend to an advisory role at Farfetch, after her non-compete agreement with Net-a-Porter expired in September — a fortuitous transition to a competitor site.
Though both Farfetch and Net-a-Porter declined to comment on Massenet’s alleged appointment, acquiring the brainpower of Massenet would be a savvy move for Farfetch, which has been focused on expanding its business for the past year. At the helm of Net-a-Porter, a role she stepped down from in September 2015 after founding the company in 2000, Massenet transformed the company into a major e-commerce platform worth $1.86 billion.
Massenet left shortly before the Net-a-Porter Group, which also includes the menswear platform Mr Porter and discount shopping platform The Outnet, was acquired by Yoox Group. Since relinquishing her role, she has continued to be an integral player in the fashion industry, maintaining her position as chair of the British Fashion Council and announcing plans last year to start her own advisory firm, Imaginary Ventures.
Meanwhile, Farfetch — which is reportedly valued at nearly $1.5 billion — has been focused on expanding its customer base through innovative tech efforts. Last month, Farfetch debuted its first shoppable video, a collaboration with Cinematique technology, with help from Beyonce’s choreographer Dana Foglia, who developed a unique dance ensemble for the site. It also made awareness-raising plays to help bolster the brand, including teaming up with Apple Music in July to upload playlists of music used during Farfetch photo shoots.
The Apple collaboration, which included Farfetch branding and was available to stream on the iOS mobile and tablet app, was said to “not only create a way to further engage with consumers, but also increase brand awareness in a global capacity,” Farfetch CMO Stephanie Horton told Glossy in July.
Farfetch has also continued to refine its e-commerce strategy, cashing in on Singles’ Day by offering discounts in honor of the Chinese holiday that yielded a record breaking $20 billion in sales, as well as participating in brand collaborations with Manolo Blahnik and Rihanna.
If rumors ring true, Massenet will likely be involved with FarfetchOS, the event at the Design Museum in London set for April that will announce the specificities of the “Store of the Future” concept. Surprisingly, founder and CEO of Farfetch Jose Neves alluded that the new tech offerings will place a focus on brick and mortar shopping.
“The e-commerce model that most companies embraced until now needs to change to become much more customer-centric,” Neves said in a statement. “The future of luxury fashion, we believe, will involve — to a large extent — the physical store, where nine out of 10 transactions still take place. But the future of the physical store will be augmented by digital platforms. At this intersection of physical and digital retail, many new customer-focused, unique experiences are suddenly made possible; at FarfetchOS, we will reveal a series of such experiences in partnership with some of the world’s luxury super-brands”
Photo courtesy of Net-a-Porter