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Farfetch.com

A Portuguese entrepreneur has developed "an Open Table-like platform that connects shoppers to 300 boutiques" worldwide, reports John Koblin in The New York Times (4/30/14). "When I go to New York, I don’t go to the department store," says Jose Neves. "I go into that tiny little boutique, that hole in the wall, where I discovered a selection that I can’t find anywhere else. But how do you do this at scale?" The answer to his own question is his own creation, Farfetch.com.

The six-year-old site has grown "into a big business" that attracts "well-heeled" customers who spend an average of $650 per visit. Farfetch holds particular appeal among millennials: "For millennial customers it’s beyond comprehension that there’s something available in a physical store that’s not available online," says Jose. "They just don’t get it. It’s like an artist who releases an album but they cannot download it from iTunes … I do think we’re changing the way we shop for fashion."

For retailers, the opportunity, obviously, is to reach a global marketplace. "If you have a store in say, Dallas, or in Chicago, you only have your own local clientele," says Jose. "That clientele is not shopping online as well. This is a huge missed opportunity. These boutiques in these places don’t appeal to the customer just in Chicago or Miami. They appeal to a global audience these days." Farfetch has raised more than $100 million in venture capital, and "had more than $160 million in sales last year."