How do local boutiques compete with the Amazons of the world? The easy answer is they don’t. When you shop for quality and design over cheap and easy, it’s a different market entirely. But the popularity of online retail has created a need for boutiques to have a presence online. London startup Trouva is helping small boutiques open up their customer base to the global community. The TechCrunch video team visited Aida in Shoreditch, London to learn more about how the process works.
Trouva is in the business of logistics. The platform eliminates the work of maintaining an online store by providing a shop with the software, customer service, and delivery teams needed to keep the experience consistent. According to Trouva, adding an online store to the mix can be tricky. You have to worry about stock, packaging, shipping and how to juggle on and offline operations with very few employees. In addition to offloading some of the more boring parts of online business, there’s the additional perk of promotion. Featured shops and products on the platform drive awareness of trendy or lesser-known boutiques.
Trouva wants store owners focus on what they do best; having beautiful offline experience and selecting the right products for their customer base. There are different tiers of partnership where Trouva can take more or less of the logistical work off the owner’s hands, but all boutiques share the same underlying technology and operations platform. Joining the program is free and provides customers with third-party tracking, reporting and commission. Since Trouva manages payment processing, shops keep track of sales and money owed to them on their dashboard.
Before starting Trouva, CEO Mandeep Singh was a retail strategy consultant and consumer investor. “The future is not just about offline or online, but about maintaining an offline presence and still being able to sell online,” says Singh. “By selling online with Trouva, we’re going to give you the money to pay your rent and keep your shop going.”
The inspiration for starting Trouva came from Singh’s experience watching large retail chains change the way they do businesses to accommodate online retail. Seeing a hole in the market, where no one was helping ‘the little guy,’ Singh decided to build a business around what he had learned.
Currently, the platform supports around 150 boutiques located solely in the UK. There are quite a lot of logistics involved with expanding to new cities, including partnerships with local couriers and bulk shipping deals with postal providers. That said, consumers can order goods on their platform from anywhere in the world. As the global demand for online retail continues to grow, it will be interesting to see where and how the brand grows from here.
Trouva, formally StreetHub, launched a year and a half ago and has raised roughly $4 million in two rounds of funding. Watch the video above to learn more about Trouva and retail’s shift online.