Private shopping clubs miss a few Web 2.0 tricks

Next Story

AT&T's EDGE network still down? [Update]

News International appears to be hopping onto a new trend in online shopping: members clubs. Today the parent company of newspapers such as The Times and News of the World, is investing in online fashion company Brand Alley UK, which offers private sales and bargains designer fashion brands. The joint venture with French online boutique BrandAlley will be a luxury “private members’ club”. You’ll soon see ads appear in the Sunday Times’ Style magazine and other NI titles. BrandAlley was launched in France in 2005, is backed with VC cash and claims a membership base of 1.3 million and 200 brands.

Meanwhile in Germany Brands4friends has appeared. Like Brand Alley it is a free-of-charge community which allows its users to buy selected original products from well-known and popular fashion and lifestyle brands in time-limited and quantity-restricted sales promotions at attractive prices. As a result it is growing at 10,000 members per day and is now one of the world’s fastest growing eCommerce communities. Last December it closed a second round of 5 million Euro funding from Mangrove Capital Partners, a leading European venture capital fund and the first institutional investor in Skype, with other private financial investors. The Brands4friends attracted more than 200,000 registered members in just ten weeks after its launch. It is currently just in Germany.

However I can’t help wondering if there is a more Web 2.0 approach to this model which has yet to be applied, and a wide open market in the UK. In the UK Crowdstorm is a privately-backed ‘social shopping’ site which is going for the generalist end of the market. Type in Armani and you will find nothing in its inventory. That’s not to say this is a failure – they are going for a mainstream market, not a luxury one. But their model could possibly be applied in a niche like luxury as well, and certainly be more open. Brand Alley is the kind of site where you can see nothing without logging in or becoming a member, putting of many potential customers. And I doubt very much if they have thought too heavily about distribution (widgets etc) amongst social sites like Facebook or MySpace.

  • David Petherick

    It’s an open opportunity, as you say Mike.

    But can I also suggest that many Web 2.0 sites are missing a few branding tricks? Some new social networks are going full steam down the ‘exclusive’ route, but they are not partnering with these ‘old media’ outlets to launch.

    My wife finds social networks too full of geeks and snakeoil purveyors, but if there was one where the F-word was the focus, (fashion, dahlings, fashion) and even the hint of a discount or limited edition exclusivity, she’d be in there like a ferret up a drainpipe, or a footballer’s wife let loose on Rue Fauborg St Honore…

  • David Petherick

    My comment reads as being 11:46.
    It’s 10:46 in the UK. Shome mishtake shurely?

  • Mike Butcher

    Daivid – have changed time on blog. Should work… testing…

  • Fergus Burns

    Hi Mike

    Check out koodos

    using widgets, etc – and have great product range


    Best regards

  • Miriam Lahage

    Fergus, thanks for the nod!

    Mike and all…as current inhabitants of this growing space, we’ve seen massive growth in our Private Sale business, echoing the interest that these two companies have received. We agree with your point, however, that some people can get put off, which is why we choose to carry additional product that is open to everyone. In fact at koodos we’ve noticed a trend of two types of consumers – the ones that simply want stylish products at smart prices (hence our strapline–koodos–stylish brands, smart prices) and the ones that want a bit more, a feeling that they are being part of something exclusive and getting something they can’t get elsewhere (hence our Private Sales).

    For the latter, brands also love being part of it, as they get huge koodos from customers that they won’t necessarily attract on the high street. To sum up, both our exclusive Private Sales and our open access for other products have equally contributed to our success so far.

    Further to Fergus’ point, we have and will continue to try our hand at implementing Web 2.0 technologies such as widgets from Nooked and customer reviews courtesy of Reevoo. I would agree that we all have some work to do before we could ever call ourselves 2.0…I’d also recommend everyone to have a look at, as it has a really interesting social networking model.

    Best regards,

  • Russian shopping club KupiVIP raises $8m second round

    […] I wwrote in February last year, News International saw the trend early in the UK and invested in online […]

  • Russia’s KupiVIP raises another $8m as Europe pounces on buyers clubs « shankarsoma; Change the View

    […] I wrote in February last year, News International saw the trend early in the UK and invested in online […]

  • The $1.5 billion scramble for Vente Privee by Gilt, eBay and Amazon

    […] year Newspaper group News International invested in BrandAlley UK, a joint venture with French online boutique BrandAlley France, itself backed by […]

blog comments powered by Disqus