bets big on mobile and sees growth soar bets big on mobile and sees growth soar

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Next year, will celebrate its 10 year anniversary. Since their founding and under cofounder Thierry Petit’s leadership, they’ve grown substantially to establish themselves as the #2 European player in the online exclusive sales market, posting 480 million euros in revenues last year. A success? Undoubtedly, but Petit, a serial entrepreneur and seasoned angel investor, has begun to put in motion an ambitious plan to take to the next level.
The shift to mobile has continued to show that innovation still has a key role to play in improving the online shopping experience. From their point of view, as their target customers evolve in terms of how they use and engage with technology, they should evolve as well. One illustration of this was their move to accept Bitcoin as a mode of payment, a first for a major ecommerce player in Europe.
01_iphone_home (2)The biggest trend they’ve observed in recent years is the increasing impact mobile has in every aspect of consumers’ lives. As a result, the linchpin of their growth plan is their shift in focus to mobile, which started with the roll-out a more personalized, secure, multi-device version of their app. They then launched a new app called ‘smart promo’, a web-to-store concept which gives shoppers access to exclusive promotions they can access in numerous fixed outlets/stores. Lastly, although they don’t yet have localized sites in markets outside of Europe, is accessible in 167 countries around the world. As many people, particularly in developing markets, don’t have access to smartphones, apps are not yet as relevant in many markets. Striving to be truly international, they’ve moved to adapt their site to all types of devices, fully confirming their multi-device approach.
The focus on mobile has already paid off in spades. In 2014, their revenues leaped 40% over the previous year to 480 million euros, which was generated from a customer base of more than 20 million subscribers. Much of this growth looks to be coming directly from mobile as it now makes up 45% of their sales and 60% of their traffic.
Going global
As mentioned, is currently accessible in 167 countries around the world. To be able to serve consumers from outside of their current core markets (France, Spain, Italy, UK, Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, and Belgium), they’ve partnered with global payments company Adyen to handle transactions coming from these new geographies.
However, having recently spoken with Petit about their growth plans, expanding beyond Europe will play a big role in fueling their future growth. Currently international accounts for 20% of their sales, but this percentage will undoubtedly grow in the near to medium term. Their focus on mobile also makes them a good fit for many markets around the world as m-commerce, rather than e-commerce, is quickly becoming the norm in many places.
Thierry Petit 2012Expanding an e-commerce/m-commerce operation into new geographies is no small feat as managing logistics always make this a challenging task. This is particularly acute in emerging markets where the infrastructure is still developing. Thus, Petit wants to make sure he has a well thought through approach and, where possible, solid local partners that can help ensure a successful entry into new markets.
In terms of where to expand, he’s quite bullish on many parts on the world including Asia which is a natural fit for them given that many of the products they carry on their site (i.e. luxury goods) are already produced in the region. Also, many parts of Asia are already developed markets or close too it so infrastructure is less of a concern. He also sees South and Latin America and, particularly, Brazil as offering substantial opportunity, although the complexities of the geography, political climate and varying speeds of development can make them challenging. In the longer-term, he also sees significant promise in North and Sub-saharan Africa, where m-commerce is quickly taking hold.
As Petit stresses, the beauty of their model is that its focus on exclusivity, luxury, and ‘deal pricing’ strongly resonates across cultures and geographies. Although there is an increasing level of competition in this space, particularly in Asia, the size and growth potential of the opportunity (projected growth in Asia , Africa, and South and Latin America) is simply staggering.  Petit and his team have shown that they understand how to innovate and create compelling shopping experience for consumers, and have the results to back it up. Now they just need to draw on that success as they take around the world.