Thinking About Scaling Your Fashion Marketplace? Think Onport
Fashion was once the sole domain of the high street, from low cost fast fashion mega stores to boutique outlets and exclusive avenues like Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles or Königsallee in Düsseldorf. However, ecommerce has changed the game massively.
Nowadays, buying clothes online is as natural as buying groceries in a supermarket. A number of recognizable brands have firmly established themselves in the online fashion space, such as ASOS, Zalando and FARFETCH (more on that later). Even some social media platforms have recently thrown their hat into the ring. Due to this migration of major players into the space, it's now more important than ever to have a model in place which maximizes your value proposition to your end customers.
Nowadays, online fashion marketplaces are simply a fact of life and chances are either you or at least someone close to you has bought something online in the past 6 months. The model has expanded rapidly over the past few years due to giving consumers a greater choice than ever before.
When it comes to fashion, this is no exemption. Dozens of sites offer hundreds of different brands, allowing consumers to make in-depth and well informed decisions about their purchases. The multi vendor model has continued to empower both brands and consumers in terms of choice and finding the best deal.
The curated marketplace approach is one which has seen great success - for instance, a fashion marketplace which carefully selects which brands it wants to work with and sell on its platform. Taking such an approach allows for greater control and helps to reinforce the brand positioning of the marketplace at every step - i.e a luxury marketplace selling high value brands or an ethical marketplace selling ethically produced products.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the ecommerce landscape and the fashion industry is no different. The level of economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic has been unparalleled compared to any past event since WW2. With physical, brick-and-mortar stores having to shut, many brands and companies were forced to make a paradigmatic shift to focusing almost entirely on online sales. Factories were forced to close, creating mass disruption around industrial production output and supply chains worldwide.
Of course, this sudden change quickly caused problems for marketplaces - particularly increased traffic, as well as having to manage more orders now than ever before. Online fashion marketplaces were forced to rethink several aspects of their operation, from their shipping workflows to the commission arrangements with their vendors. The good news, however, is that projections show a strong recovery for the industry for 2022.
When it comes to luxury fashion and online marketplaces, there are few names which hold as much weight as that of FARFETCH. FARFETCH (NYSE: FTCH) an online luxury fashion retail platform, founded in 2007. Today, it is the largest luxury fashion marketplace in the world, selling products from over 700 brands from around the world. In 2021, their revenue climbed to $2.3 billion.
In a previous article, we covered how FARFETCH were able to navigate the disruption to their supply chain caused by the pandemic, better than their competitors due to their unique supply chain structure.
You can read more about that in our article here - Why the Online Marketplace Model Will Lead The Way After The Pandemic.
As you may have heard by now, Onport has become a part of the FARFETCH Group. This means that we now have great resources at our disposal and an even greater understanding of how fashion marketplaces operate and how to eliminate the pain points involved.
Together and augmented with this tacit knowledge of running an online fashion marketplace, we can further provide our customers with a flexible solution that is built for scale.
Another critical aspect of running an online marketplace is ensuring an up-to-date product catalog. Onport enables you to import vendor product catalogs, directly from their e-commerce stores and publish them on your store, using supported front end solutions. Onport allows you to save time by mapping product attributes automatically. For example, for products with different sizing options (small, medium, large) you’ll also be able to automatically map vendor sizing to your store.
A good return policy is a must for your customers - the dress that didn’t fit, the shoes that ended up being too tight. Onport enables you to offer them a simple, speedy and reliable returns process, allowing you to issue returns authorizations automatically, as soon as your customers request them. Onport even provides returns shipping labels to make the process totally pain-free for every customer.
An efficient shipping strategy is a key ingredient in the success of your marketplace. With Onport, you can generate shipping labels with a bundled USPS account as well as generate shipping labels with any carrier using 3rd party carrier services such as Shippo, Shipstation, Shippypro just to name a few. You can also provide labels to your vendors to ship the order directly.
For shipping rates, you can define and blend shipping rates at checkout considering parameters such as Origin, Destination, # items, Vendors in the order, order value and thresholds - allowing you to always ensure that your margin is protected and that your business remains profitable at all times.
Onport is designed to be truly malleable to a customer's requirements - thanks to our composable architecture. But what do we mean by this?
Composable architecture is designed to empower marketplaces to select best-of-breeds solutions to sculpt their own unique stack - pertinent to their own individual requirements and that of their customer base. Such an approach, often referred to as MACH, allows marketplaces to test quickly and implement new changes faster as well as construct touch points that truly resonate with their target audience.
For instance, you may wish to create a feature which allows a customer to virtually “try on” a new item of clothing - composable commerce can make this a far easier task to test and deploy.
By choosing to opt for composable commerce and therefore go “Headless”, marketplaces can avoid the common pitfalls of a monolithic, legacy-based system - too much rigidity and complexity that stifles innovation and prevents companies from responding with agility to fast-changing market forces.
Of course, the pandemic has led to other changes in how we as a society view our world and in particular, the issue of sustainability has been brought to the forefront in the mind of consumers. Fast fashion has begun to slightly fall out of vogue for lack of a better term.
Ethical clothing brands which specialize in bespoke pieces have seen a lot of growth as well marketplaces which feature such brands. Here at Onport, we support several companies who pursue a more ethical and sustainable approach to fashion. Ad Hoc Atelier is one such company, created to celebrate and promote smaller Italian brands who produce bespoke pieces that are built to last - you can read more about them here with our case study.
Making The Right Choice
The modern ecommerce environment presents continuous challenges, for brands and marketplaces alike. The ability to navigate these challenges successfully can be the difference between a thriving marketplace and a failed enterprise - that is why it is vital that a marketplace has a solid but flexible foundation which allows them to quickly adapt to changes in the macro-environment.
Here at Onport, we have a wealth of experience when it comes to helping fashion marketplaces scale and transform their processes. Providing a stable platform, our nimble infrastructure can adapt and expand in line with our customers' sustained business growth. Fully intertwined, we cultivate a space for on-going and flexible development.
Fashion moves quickly - your marketplace deserves a solution which can move in tandem with trends and continue to deliver a reliable and valuable experience to your customers. Our ability to provide adaptive solutions to our customers helps to ensure that you are never stuck with a platform that is “so last season”.
Onport - Reliable And Scalable.
Onport is a multi-vendor marketplace platform. It enables product marketplaces to streamline and automate their inventory, orders, payments, and shipping operations. Designed to be flexible, the Onport Platformcan accommodate both those seeking an out-the-box solution and through our API, those who require a more flexible implementation. From growing SMEs to well-established Enterprises, our adaptive infrastructure is designed to be a reliable partner for growth.
With Onport, our customers can scale with confidence, streamline their daily operations as well as create truly unique marketplaces. Onport is trusted by brands such as Bombinate, Ad Hoc Atelier, and Naduvi as well as over 200+ other companies.