JackThreads, the members-only shopping club bought by men’s lifestyle brand Thrillist two years ago, just hit a major milestone this morning: 2 million members. At the time of the original acquisition, JackThreads was really small, says Thrillist co-founder and CEO Ben Lerer. It only had around 100,000-150,000 members in total. But it soon grew. JackThreads hit the 1 million member mark in July 2011, and since then, the average number of orders placed per month has more than doubled, average daily sales have more than doubled, unique site visitors per month grew 143%, and mobile visits grew 163%.
The company hosts flash sales with top apparel brands, but is now starting to try new things. It recently launched its own private label line collection called Goodale, which Lerer says led to the best-selling sale the site has ever hosted. It’s also planning to expand beyond flash sales, and will soon allow members to search the site’s inventory for specific items.
What’s interesting about JackThreads’ growth is that it’s mostly been organic. “Frankly, we would like to do more marketing,” says Lerer. But for now, the top source of referrals to the site comes from JackThreads’ “invite a friend feature” and 80% of its traffic comes from free traffic sources. The company has yet to take full advantage of Facebook integration, either, Lerer admits. You can’t log in with your Facebook credentials, and the site hasn’t exactly made it easy for people to share. But these things are changing.
Lerer says that JackThreads’ slowness to integrate more deeply with Facebook will prove to be an advantage. “There’s a lot of data that shows what’s moving the needle for commerce sites,” he says, adding that JackThreads is “building a ton of stuff as we speak,” and have recently hired a new front-end lead to help with that.
Mobile is another big focus for the company, which plans to launch new iPhone and Android apps (pictured) in a week to ten days, and has a native iPad app in the works. Currently, around 20% of the company’s daily sales come from mobile and the iPad app will help to grow that number. The new apps will also start to collect data from JT customers around personalization by allowing shoppers to star favorite categories and track their favorite brands and products.
However, the typical JackThreads customer isn’t coming to the site to buy from a specific brand. It’s more of a lifestyle experience, something which is reflected in the site’s editorial, which presents a more magazine-like images of the clothing as opposed to a headless torso or “lookbook” type of shot. This association with the JackThreads’ brand, instead of the brands it sells on the site, is why it was able to successfully launch its private label collection Goodale, which joined the 1,000+ brands JT currently offers. “JackThreads is the curator. That’s why we can release a brand that no one’s heard of before and sell it at the same or greater volume than a well-established top brand,” says Lerer, “the trust is not with the brand, it’s with JackThreads.”
The site’s average shopper is also not exactly an exact match with Thrillist.com. They’re a little bit younger (early 20’s) and they live in the top 20 U.S. cities. Surprisingly, L.A., not N.Y. (#2), is the biggest market served. They’re also…well…not embarrassed about shopping and sharing, as the (stereotypical) male may be.
Lerer has a theory on why this is true. “In a generation of people growing up with social media, they’re more prone to share in general…they’re different. The JackThreads guy who’s 22 years old, grew up differently than I did – and I’m 30. They have a different mentality and different comfort level with sharing. We’re really speaking to directly that guy, and playing into that culture and psyche,” he explains.
“That being said,” Lerer adds, “one of the things we are working on is creating a shopping experience where when someone does say ‘you know, I just need a f***ing pair of shoes,’ we will soon be a place people come to.”
There won’t only be flash sales going forward, he says, but customers will be able to come to the site and search the available inventory. If that sounds a lot like Fab’s current path, it is. Fab is also moving away from associating itself with the “flash sales” moniker, to focus on a new social shopping experience. Part of that experience is a real-time, Pinterest-like design for browsing.
Will JackThreads do the same?
No. “You’ll never go to JackThreads and say ‘ooh, it’s the Pinterest design,” says Lerer. He says that he thinks the “jury’s out” on the feminine Pinterest look-and-feel, but admits there’s something to be said for “super-visual, graphic-driven shopping.”
The company is now over 100 employees, up from 33 in July 2011. Combined, the Thrillist Media Group (JackThreads, Thrillist and Thrillist Rewards) reaches between 4 and 5 million daily subscribers. JackThreads did north of $20 million in revenue last year, and this year, it will more than double that. From a company-wide perspective, Thrillist Media Group did over $30 million in revenue last year and is on track to more than double this year as well.