Luxury brands have long resisted change, but an evolving consumer mindset is forcing a revolution.
That revolution needs some handholding.
Lyst is a fashion e-commerce aggregator that lets people shop from brands like Proenza Schouler, Valentino or even Asos. It’s one guiding light helping brands make sense of e-commerce and build marketplaces to appeal to a new type of consumer.
The startup, which has raised $60 million to date from investors including Groupe Arnault (the controlling shareholder at LVMH) and Accel, works with brands to both provide e-commerce services as well as help with marketing. Jenny Cossons, a Condé Nast and Net-a-Porter veteran who heads partnerships at the company, joined this week’s podcast. Edited highlights below.
Luxury is still wary of digital.
Cossons said the biggest surprise to her in the last decade has been how digital moved from being the “poor cousin” inside fashion brands and publishers to being a central force in decisions. But despite that mindset shift, luxury companies are still very “hesitant” to jump into e-commerce, or mobile payments, or even tech platforms. “There is so much investment in making a brand so desirable that it’s hard to make the leap sometimes,” she said.
Lyst considers itself a tech company.
It’s now fashionable for every company to call itself a “tech company.” But Cossons said it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Half of Lyst’s 150-strong team are data folks and engineers. “Effectively, we’re doing is what Spotify does for music and what Kayak does for travel,” she said. Cossons said that ultimately, any company that thinks about the customer and making things easier for the customer is a tech company.
Brand FOMO is driving a lot of the change.
Even four years ago, a lot of brands were hesitant to try services like Lyst, or even dip toes into mobile or e-commerce. The tech has changed and gotten better, but fear of missing out is also real. As brands read about new technology, they feel keen to jump on. “There has been a huge shift in people’s desires to try and do new things,” said Cossons.
Lyst hopes to be able to affect in-store purchases too.
The reason Lyst works is it because it lets luxury brands, afraid of diluting their image, own their own brand on the platform. The platform pulls in brand information and images all from the brands themselves — and also helps act as a marketing platform for the company, said Cossons. That’s why it has competed and won against bigger marketplaces like Amazon which don’t feel as high-end. Ultimately, there may be a way to use “lysts” — lists, literally, of stuff people want to buy — and use beacon technology to get people into brick and mortar stores, too. If someone is walking past a store and has a “lyst” on their phone, the store could send them a notification about a particular item being available. “There is a lot of opportunity here,” said Cossons.